Seven years ago, Prince William County officials identified Swan’s Creek as a “severely eroded and degraded” waterway. Today, the stream is repaired and clear of fallen trees and eroded slopes, and is delivering cleaner, high-quality water to the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart, Potomac District Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, officials from
the Virginia Department of Transportation, and 95 Express Lanes partners, Fluor and Transurban, recently met at the newly restored creek to plant a dogwood tree at the project, which broke ground in January 2013.
“The restoration of Swan’s Creek has long been needed,” Caddigan said of the $1.5 million project. “It was quite ugly, as the homeowners’ association board of directors will tell you. Trees were uprooted. There was tremendous erosion. It was quite an eyesore. If it wasn’t for the partnership with VDOT, Transurban, Fluor and the Federal Highway Administration, and of course, the money from our governor, this would never have taken place.”
Stewart said the project, where 750 trees have been planted and 1,000 are scheduled to be planted, would be considered a “legacy” in 50 years.
As construction projects, such as the High Occupancy Toll Lanes, proceed, any disturbance to natural resources must be mitigated. Since not much mitigation could be done directly along the I-95 Corridor where the HOT lanes are being built, 95 Express Lanes Project officials sought other suitable projects in the same watershed crossed by the express lanes. The creek near the Southbridge community was on the list of streams that needed attention, but a lack of funding kept work from proceeding. The 95 Express Lanes Project was bound under its environmental permit commitments to pay for a project such as Swan’s Creek, according to 95 Express Lanes spokesperson Jamie Breme. “When the 95 Express Lanes Project was kicked off, we had to mitigate impacts from that project. We found that this project was available.”
McDonnell said the project, which was completed on time and included the planting of nearly 7,500 native trees and shrubs in total, would not have been possible without cooperation between state and local governments and their private partners. “It’s the homeowner’s association. It’s the Prince William County Board. It’s the state leaders. It’s Fluor. It’s Transurban. It’s environmental groups. It’s all of you just caring about your community and getting together and saying, ‘Here’s something that we need to be able to do.’”