County Expedites Dredging Through Public/Private Partnership to Keep Waterway Open

Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi noted that National Fishing & Boating Week was the perfect time to officially welcome the public back to Neabsco Creek Channel during a ribbon cutting on June 6, 2019. The event celebrated the successful $1M dredging project that restored the waterway to navigable depth, thanks to a Public-Private-Partnership (P3) spearheaded by Supervisor Principi and other Prince William County officials.

In March 2018, the United States Coast Guard replaced the channel’s navigational aids with “Danger” signs after finding parts of the channel too shallow to navigate due to silting.  Located in Woodbridge, just past Leesylvania State Park, the Neabsco Creek Channel is an essential navigable waterway for emergency rescue craft, commercial vessel traffic, boat fueling and recreational purposes.  Thanks to a Public-Private-Partnership (P3), led by the County, recreational boaters will again be able to access the Neabsco Creek Channel and new and existing businesses will gain from the enhanced economic and recreational activity for residents and visitors alike.

“The channel dredging is a model Public-Private-Partnership.  When marina owners contacted me, I organized a stakeholder group of local residents and businesses, and brought county, state and federal officials to the table,” said Woodbridge Magisterial District Supervisor Frank J. Principi. “Together, we secured the resources to remove 20 tons of silt and get navigational aids restored in time for boating season.  Using the P3 model, the County successfully preserved small businesses, boater safety, jobs and protection of the watershed.”

As a result of these efforts, the Neabsco Creek, LLC was formed for the purpose of dredging the Neabsco Creek Channel and to support the continued operation of 12 marine-related existing businesses, retain 50 jobs and maintain the economic development, recreation and tourism opportunities that abound in Prince William County.

Neabsco Creek, LLC further extended the dredging project to use any remaining funds to dredge three state-owned “fairways” including the docks used by Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Fire Department for its rescue boat, and two public access boat ramps.  The dredging itself began in summer 2018 with work taking place around the clock, when weather and other conditions permitted, to open for this year’s boating season.

The nearly $1 million P3 capital improvement project was made possible by the Virginia Port Authority providing a $194,330 grant that must be matched with three dollars for every one dollar of funding and the Prince William Board of County Supervisors therefore authorized $725,325 grant to Neabsco Creek, LLC that was managed by the Prince William County Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

“Today is truly a celebration of commitment at every level.  As we ramp up our Potomac Communities economic development and tourism attractions, we are reaffirming our commitment to existing and small businesses,” said Chris M. Price, Prince William County Deputy County Executive and Interim Executive Director, Department of Economic Development.

The Neabsco Creek is a 13.9 mile long (22.4km) tributary of the lower tidal segment of the Potomac River in eastern Prince William County.  The Neabsco Creek watershed covers about 27 square miles, which has served as a waterway for trade and commerce since the 1700’s.  Today, it is a bustling area for recreational boaters, fishing, kayaking and paddle boat rentals and sundries are available at EZ Cruz, the Pilot House Marina and Hampton’s Landing Marina.

The dredging also sparked business expansion on the channel, with Potomac Boat Rentals adding four new pontoon boats to its fleet and a new, fourth marina under construction.

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