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Virginia Railway Express (VRE) broke ground yesterday on a new rail station planned for the Potomac Shores master-planned community in Prince William County, Va.Scheduled to open in 2017, the station will serve as a "vital link" in the region's commuter-rail network, said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who joined railroad and local officials at a groundbreaking ceremony."A robust, effective transportation system is key to ensuring that Virginia can compete in a 21st Century economy," McAuliffe said in a prepared statement. "This means investing not only in road improvements, but also rail and mass transit, which is why today's groundbreaking is a critical part of my transportation agenda."Situated along the shores of the Potomac River, Potomac Shores is a waterfront community that is being created as a transit-oriented development (TOD) due to its convenient access to the on-site VRE station and a variety of planned transportation options, VRE officials said in a press release.VRE has been the driving force in efforts to bring rail improvements to Northern Virginia, they said. Making the new station possible was the Federal Railroad Administration's 2012 authorization of $74.8 million to build 11 miles of a third track from Stafford County to Prince William County, thereby reaching Potomac Shores. The state invested $15 million and developer SunCal is contributing $20 million toward the design and construction of the Potomac Shores station through a public-private partnership.VRE and CSX Transportation recently reached an agreement that permits the addition of the Potomac Shores station. The station's design and planning process is under way, with the design review by VRE, CSX and Prince William County expected to be completed by late 2015. After a contractor is selected, the start of construction is anticipated to begin in fourth-quarter 2015.