Greater Greater Washington

Northern Virginia picks transportation projects to fund

For years, leaders in Northern Virginia have been asking Richmond to let Northern Virginia raise its own money to spend on its own transportation priorities. They are finally getting the chance.


Almost $20 million will go to new VRE railcars. Image from BeyondDC.

When the Virginia General Assembly passed a broad new transportation funding bill earlier this year, it included a section letting Northern Virginia raise and allocate hundreds of millions per year. Those new taxes began rolling in on July 1, with the beginning of Virginia fiscal year 2014.

On Wednesday night, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) officially approved its first set of projects. The authority allocated about $210 million, split roughly evenly between transit and roads.

The largest projects include the Silver Line's Innovation Center Metro station, new VRE railcars, and widenings along Route 28.

NVTA also approved a bond validation lawsuit that will preemptively ask Virginia courts to rule on NVTA's legality. That process should take 6-9 months, and NVTA will have to wait until it's over to actually start spending money. Taking the issue to court now means NVTA won't have to spend years fending off other court challenges.

The project list is below. For more details, see the project description sheets on NVTA's website.

ProjectFunding (millions)Location
Transit and multimodal projects
Innovation Center Metro station$41  Fairfax Co.
VRE railcars$19.8Regional
VRE Lorton station 2nd platform$7.9Fairfax Co.
WMATA buses$7  Regional
WMATA Orange Line traction power upgrades for 8-car trains$5  Regional
DASH buses$3.3Alexandria
Potomac Yard Metro station environmental study$2  Alexandria
Crystal City multimodal center bus bays$1.5Arlington
VRE Gainesville extension planning$1.5Regional
VRE Alexandria station pedestrian tunnel & platform improvements$1.3Alexandria
Herndon Metro station access improvements (road, bus, bike/ped)$1.1Fairfax Co.
ART buses$1  Arlington
Leesburg park and ride$1  Loudoun
Loudoun County Transit buses$0.9Loudoun
Route 7 Tysons-to-Alexandria transit alternatives analysis (phase 2)$0.8Regional
Falls Church pedestrian access to transit$0.7Falls Church
Duke Street transit signal priority$0.7Alexandria
PRTC bus$0.6Prince William
Alexandria bus shelters & real-time information$0.5Alexandria
Van Buren pedestrian bridge$0.3Falls Church
Falls Church bus shelters$0.2Falls Church
Road projects
Rt 28 - Linton Hall to Fitzwater Dr$28  Prince William
Rt 28 - Dulles to Rt 50$20  Fairfax Co.
Belmont Ridge Road north of Dulles Greenway$20  Loudoun
Columbia Pike multimodal improvements (roadway, sidewalk, utilities)$12  Arlington
Rt 28 - McLearen to Dulles$11.1Fairfax Co.
Rt 28 - Loudoun "hot spots"$6.4Loudoun
Chain Bridge Road widening$5  Fairfax City
Boundary Channel Dr interchange$4.3Arlington
Rt 1 - Featherstone Rd to Mary's Way$3  Prince William
Edwards Ferry Rd interchange$1  Loudoun
Herndon Parkway intersection with Van Buren St$0.5Fairfax Co.
Herndon Parkway intersection with Sterling Rd$0.5Fairfax Co.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

Comments

Add a comment »

The stuff highlighted in black is kind of hard to read. Arlnow also pointed that the NVTA also rejected funding to extend the VRE Platform at Crystal City.

by drumz on Jul 26, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

2nd platform at Lorton?

Does anybody know more about that?

Also, nice that the Orange Line will get a 8 car power upgrade, but how about the Blue Line?

by Jasper on Jul 26, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

Are the VRE railcars replacements or an expansion of the existing railcar fleet?

by Jacques on Jul 26, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

The real question will be whether the tax fund, as set up, is constitution. There is a strong argument to be made that the NoVa tax carve out is unconstitutional in a similar vein to the referrendum 8-10 years ago that did basically the same thing.

by Burger on Jul 26, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

The black is an error. I think some browsers were handling the formatting in a weird way. I think it's fixed now.

by David Alpert on Jul 26, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

Burger - hopefully we'll know for sure in 6-9 months. This is on much firmer constitutional ground than the last attempt - NVTA only allocates the money, it doesn't impose the taxes.

by Chris S on Jul 26, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

I believe being that the transportation bill, which includes the tax hikes for NoVA, was passed by the General Assembly (made up of elected officials), it stands a better chance of surviving litigation. From what I remember about the previous plan, the entire notion that an unelected body was imposing taxes was quite unconstitutional and IMO it deserved to not see the light of day.

Getting back to the projects, I'm heartened to see the Gainesville/Haymarket VRE extension at least get some money to move forward with planning and design. It may still be 5+ years away but it's the most realistic transit solution for western PWC, as the costs/time of getting metro out there put it more in the 20-30yr range.

by Joe on Jul 26, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

There is a constitutional issue as to whether the NVTA passes the one person, one vote test. Federal courts have held the Constitution requires any state or local entity that exercises general governmental powers must comply with the one person, one vote standard. Here the NVTA issues bonds and appropriates tax money - certainly the functions of government.

The NVTA's internal rules regulate voting in a way that gives the larger jurisdictions more voting power. For example, Fairfax County's representative Sharon Bulova has an effect veto power over any appropriation. The City of Falls Church, on the other hand, has much less sway.

NVTA has representatives from every local jurisdiction paying the new, higher taxes. And with the exception of Prince William County, each representative is elected on an at large basis (or this is what I've been told in response to my inquiry). However, PW representative Nohe is not elected at large. So some PW residents don't have a vote.

In contrast, constituents of Senator Ebbin and Delegates Rust and May have two votes. And how the two gubernatorial seats fit is an open question.

This issue should be resolved in the bond validation lawsuit. Alternatively, it would be easy to fix in legislation. The NVTA voting seats could be limited to the local governments and representatives could be limited to officials elected on an at large basis.

by tmt on Jul 26, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Do all of the route 28 projects further reinforce the fact that the Bicounty Parkway is really not necessary?

by Alan B. on Jul 26, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

@ Alan B.
Nope.

by Rich on Jul 26, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

Awww... no new bridges?

by Chris S. on Jul 26, 2013 1:33 pm • linkreport

Chris S,

this isn't about the allocation of funds but the ability to raise the taxes to fund the NVTA. VA's constitution just like the US constitution only allows for certain ways taxes can be applied.

The last time this came up was in a referrendum that was passed raising taxes in NoVA and Tidewater counties. In fact, referrendum related to almost all the same taxing mechanisms - sales tax, congestion fee, etc. It was found unconstitutional because many of the reasons tmt cited.

But, there is the further issue raised in that the Va General Assembly via the Transportation Act gave authority to the NVTA to tax which would likely be a violation of VA constitution that says the General Assembly is directly prohibited enacting any local, special, or private law for collecting taxes. It can give the power to tax to any county, city, town or regional government. This is the same provision that sunk the referrendum imposed taxes. See Marshall v. NVTA.

by Burger on Jul 26, 2013 2:07 pm • linkreport

@ Chris S:Awww... no new bridges?

The Potomac belongs to DC and MD, so they will have to build bridges. As the border is the high-water mark, VA can not even build docks on the river without permission of DC or MD.

by Jasper on Jul 26, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper "The Potomac belongs to DC and MD, so they will have to build bridges. As the border is the high-water mark, VA can not even build docks on the river without permission of DC or MD."

Really? I had no idea. How is Virginia doesn't have equal standing? Was that part of some Civil War settlement?

by Chris S. on Jul 26, 2013 2:54 pm • linkreport

For the exact wording of the VA Constitution, see http://constitution.legis.virginia.gov/, Section 14 ...

The General Assembly shall not enact any local, special, or private law in the following cases:
... (5) For the assessment and collection of taxes, except as to animals which the General Assembly may deem dangerous to the farming interests...

by Thad on Jul 26, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

No, it goes further back to the end of the revolutionary war. Right after the war, all the states were using their own currency and there weren't clear laws about waterway rights as well (now it's established that if you're in the middle of a river or so you're never trespassing on someone's land).

Anyway, Va and MD almost came to blows over it (administratively and legally) but it was agreed that MD could have it while Va. enjoys "full use" which has been debated pretty much constantly. If I mispoke on anything I welcome corrections

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potomac_River#Legal_issues

by drumz on Jul 26, 2013 3:00 pm • linkreport

So is that why there are so few bridges upriver on the Potomac? Always struck me as odd.

by Alan B. on Jul 26, 2013 3:02 pm • linkreport

I'd say that's more a function of geography. The Potomac gorge/great falls is a signficant geographic barrier and the river is very wide, even in DC. Though the ownership question may be a factor.

by drumz on Jul 26, 2013 3:04 pm • linkreport

About the VA State Line, it is a complicated history as to why it has been set at the low-water mark of the Potomac ... the abridged version is that it goes back to the royal charter that defined the boundaries of Maryland in 1632 by King Charles I when he granted what would become Maryland to the Baron of Baltimore. Their is no known reason for the establishment of Maryland's boundary on the far side of the river, but it has created numerous issues for both states (and DC) throughout history.

by Thad on Jul 26, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

PS - Just found this article from earlier this year to show that these border disputes have not gone away ... http://articles.herald-mail.com/2013-02-10/news/37025086_1_black-jenkins-award-potomac-shores-boundary

by Thad on Jul 26, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

@drumz, I am not sure how you define "almost" but I think that a Supreme Court case classifies as coming to blows ... http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/129ORIG.ZO.html

by Thad on Jul 26, 2013 3:14 pm • linkreport

I meant an actual shooting war (I forget where I read that so I may be talking out of my butt). There is also the controversy I remember about Duck hunters who were making Va. residents mad but they couldn't do anything about it since MD hands out the hunting liscenses.

To get this back on track. I'd hope any hint of a new bridge would be for something rail only. Particularly a new blue line.

by drumz on Jul 26, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

I'm hoping for a Purple line/road combo bridge. Well, if the Purple line is built.

by Chris S. on Jul 26, 2013 5:29 pm • linkreport

@Chris S.

The Purple Line almost certainly will be built. With the project quickly moving toward the design/construction stage, the time is ripe to begin a lobbying push to extend the line across the Potomac and into Mclean and Tysons.

by Sage on Jul 26, 2013 7:34 pm • linkreport

Sage,

It is unlikely the Purple Line will be extended to Tysons for many years because of right of way issues. While VDOT has considerable right of way along the Beltway north of Tysons and south of Maryland, it has been and will be used for Express Lanes. Several of my friends in the Sierra Club raised a concern that construction of the Express Lanes would likely have the secondary effect of foreclosing the Purple Line. The argument was correct, but Express Lanes was the conscious choice.

Politically, it would be impossible for the foreseeable future to get support for building the Purple Line either outside or inside the Beltway between Maryland and Tysons.

by tmt on Jul 27, 2013 9:20 am • linkreport

@tmt

Yes, it probably will be many, many years before the Purple Line is extended across the Potomac. But a discussion needs to begin now.

Does a Purple LIne crossing over the Potomac need be part of the American Legion Bridge? Not necessarily. An new adjacent bridge could be built, for example. If there's a will, there's a way.

If Purple Line extension is ultimately deemed unfeasible or unworkable, for whatever reason, perhaps an underground spur of the Red Line should be considered. To note again, what needs to happen now is discussion, ideas floated, studies proposed. Nothing starts in a vacuum.

by Sage on Jul 28, 2013 4:30 pm • linkreport

Sage

Discussion is good. The best way (theoretically) to connect the Purple Line to Tysons would be underground with no stations in Virginia between the Potomac River and Tysons. Such approach, while probably not affordable (remember the quest to have the Silver Line undergrounded throughout Tysons), would have the best chance of not facing hostile and strong opposition by residents living near 495. I also suspect an effective "express route" between Tysons and Bethesda would be popular with commuters.

Eliminating stations in Virginia between the River and Tysons would also eliminate the issue of density in an area of one acre and up lots. From a pure political standpoint, I think this approach would have the best chance of approval, even though it may be too expensive to consider.

Several years ago, I attended a meeting with the FHWA, Maryland Department of Highways, VDOT, and Congressmen Wolf's and Van Hollen's offices to discuss congestion at the American Legion Bridge. Maryland made it quite clear that it had no plans to replace the ALB for many years and the bridge could not be expanded (widened). Sub rosa, many people believe Maryland is not interested in making it easier for its residents to drive to Dulles Airport and would not address ALB capacity for that reason. Whether that is true or not is subject to debate. But, bottom line, Maryland does not seem eager to do anything to expand travel capacity over the Potomac on or near the ALB.

Given the heartburn over the cost of the Silver Line and the decision to finance it on the back of Dulles Toll Road users, I believe it would be fairly difficult to generate local support in Fairfax County for another rail line, especially when contrasted to an extension of the Orange Line beyond Vienna. The question remains: Who would pay for the extension of the Purple Line to Tysons?

by tmt on Jul 28, 2013 6:52 pm • linkreport

tmt

Very good points, very well expressed.

On a general level, I think we need to think big, plan big. And now, not 10 years down the road. The initial idea and plan for Metro was BIG. It got built.

Having a transit crossing over the Potomac would vastly benefit both Maryland and Virginia economically. The more transit in the region, the easier it will be to get around. This will make the region even more attractive to business. Already, Bethesda and Silver Spring are doing well, as is Tysons. White Flint is poised to boom. To keep the momentum going, it makes sense to invest in transit.

Each state could do it's respective side of the Purple Line, with the bill split for the Potomac bridge or tunnel. There should be additional stations located in both states. For example, in Maryland, stations could be placed near River Road/Westbard Ave. and near the Sagamore Shops area to bring workers to Bethesda and Silver Spring. In Virginia, stations in Mclean, Tysons and either Vienna or Merrifield would make these areas extremely attractive to business and residents alike.

How would the extension be funded? How about a regional 1 cent sales tax increase solely dedicated to capital transit projects. Or, an infrastructure fee tacked on to electricity and water bills, based on usage. Almost everyone pays these bills, one way or the another. A added modest fee each month might be palatable. These ideas need to discussed and explored. If there's a will, it can be done.

by Sage on Jul 28, 2013 11:51 pm • linkreport

Sage,

If you review the Comp Plan for Tysons, it essentially stops growth at 84 MSF, absent increased transit, including an extension of the Orange Line to Centreville or further and the construction of an additional, unspecified rail line. While many believe this line would run with Route 28, connecting the Orange and Silver Lines, it could be the Purple Line. Since the Purple Line's extension triggers more growth at Tysons, I would argue strongly that the bulk of the capital costs for any Virginia segment of the Purple Line should be paid by those landowners in Tysons who get additional density because of the rail line. These would likely be landowners just outside the existing 1/4 mile TOD areas at the four stations. There is no good reason for taxpayers to subsidize real estate development in Tysons.

There would never be a McLean station on the Purple Line. A rail station means added density and more auto traffic. People in McLean want neither. Moreover, the BoS's "promise" with the urbanization of Tysons was the character of surrounding neighborhoods would be protected. That means density stays in Tysons.

The Comp Plan for Fairfax County is in one sense a social contract. The Plan concentrates urban development in Tysons with some added, but much lesser, density at certain other centers, e.g., rail stations and certain business centers. The County needs to protect other areas from denser development or face the wrath of residents.

by tmt on Jul 29, 2013 8:15 am • linkreport

drumz, back in colonial times there was a quid-pro-quo on the state line settlement with Maryland. In exchange for MD's ownership of the river, VA agreed to allow MD free access to the lower Ches Bay. Of course, to do otherwise would have allowed VA to throttle shipping in and out of Baltimore. And I don't think you are correct about there being no trespass in the middle of a stream. The Supreme Court of VA has held that, depending on the language of the original King's grant and the history of commercial navigability, a private owner may indeed own a stream bed, the right to fish in it, and the right to traverse it.

by Bucklander on Jul 29, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

@tmt

"There would never be a McLean station on the Purple Line. A rail station means added density and more auto traffic. People in Mclean want neither."

I agree the people of McLean don't want a dense, Bethesda-like environment. But why would a light-rail station in McLean guarantee that dense development would take place. It's all about zoning. Downtown McLean is already built up to an extent with several mid-rise buildings clustered in and about the vicinity of Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion Drive. Just a few a years ago a major apartment/condo building was constructed, as was a mid-rise extended-stay hotel. A tastefully designed transit station, whether above or below ground, could fit right in and not change the area's semi-suburban character.

To be sure, development in McLean -- townhouses, small- and medium-sized condo projects -- will likely continue whether or not a transit station is ultimately placed there. Change will occur, slowly. Even if transit comes to McLean, if the people of McLean want McLean to stay pretty much as it is, very little will change.

To completely rule out a transit station in McLean at this time seems premature. And if traffic continues to worsen on Dolly Madison, McLean residents might welcome a transit alternative.

by tmt on Jul 29, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

Sage,

There are landowners in McLean who want to build high-density buildings in the Central Business District. In fact, the owners of the Ashby apartments want to build to a density that is higher than Capital One in Tysons. There is very strong community opposition to that proposal. The two key issues are: 1) traffic and 2) keeping high density out of McLean. Increased traffic volumes from Tysons may well prevent any significant increase in density in the CBD. The Ashby proposal will be fought every step of the way, as would any other significant increase in density. The proposal for condos on Elm Street is small enough to avoid a fight to the death, but it's a long way from approval.

There would be a fear that a rail station in McLean would be used to trigger unwanted density. I also believe that the community would view any above-ground tracks as unsightly. Keep in mind that John Foust conducted a scientific poll that determined a majority of residents wanted no rail line built if the Silver Line was not underground.

The best course of advice for McLean is to leave it alone. It has functioning institutions that handle local transportation and land use decisions in a manner acceptable to the community and to the County.

by tmt on Jul 29, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

I agree, what about the blue line 8-car upgrade?
Right now we are lucky to get sometimes 2 sets of 8 cars on the line, but if they are so keen on putting threw the sliver line at rosslyn , then they -must- put more 8-car trains for blue lines going threw rosslyn. Its a must with how packed the trains will become.

by Zombiexm on Jul 29, 2013 12:03 pm • linkreport

@tmt

Please excuse the inadvertent signing of my comment above "tmt". Not sure why that happened.

And, yes, I agree, let McLean deal with its issues on its own.

by Sage on Jul 29, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

In general this was a good mix of projects. Enough road projects for balance, and generally not the worst road projects (and I agree that the widening on rte 28 is an alternativet to the bicounty parkway) Some good, needed, transit - including VRE improvement/extension, metro 8 car train capacity, silver line leveraging, and the Rte 7 transit corridor study. The boundary channel improvments will enable a bike route of fix of some importance that Dave Alpert discussed here several years ago, I think.

As for the purple line extension, the time is far from ripe for NoVans to think about the implications of it. After the Md Purple line is in operation, after Silver Line ph 1 has been in places several years, after silver line ph 2 is complete, after Tysons is closer to the vision of a walkable urban place, and after their have been further demographic and attitudinal changes in Fairfax County in general, and Mclean in particular, will be the time to begin to seriously examine the issue. Bringing it up when the purple line still looks chimerical and when Tysons is still so autocentric, will stir up all the fears of the Purple line without a clear vision of the benefits.

And its not like there aren't a whole bunch of transit projects needed in NoVa meanwhile.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 29, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

AWITC

I agree. It's time to see what happens with Tysons and the Silver Line and make fact-based adjustments in the future. Tysons will evolve over the next 40 plus years. There is plenty of time to evaluate options and see decisions made by future generations.

by tmt on Jul 29, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

@tmt @AWITC

I understand your reasoning about why it's not the right time to begin looking seriously at a Purple Line extension. I tend to agree and generally accept what is being said, but am puzzled why a discussion can't begin in the near future.

What once were seemingly far-off visions -- the Silver and Purple Lines -- are no longer dreams but are now very close to becoming part of our region's mobility fabric. The Purple Line is planned to be begin construction in 2015 and be operational by 2020. And, as we know, trains along the first stage of the Silver Line will begin running in only a matter of months.

Even if discussion and studies were started soon on a potential cross-county transit line, it will be years and years before anything comes to fruition, probably not before 2035. And that's if we begin discussion now. If proposals are put off until, say, 2025, when Tysons and the Dulles Corridor will be maturing, it might be 2050 or later before we see rail transit cross the Potomac. Are we going to rely solely on the American Legion Bridge until then? That's foolhardy.

Let's toy for a moment with a crude, fantasy Purple Line extension schedule:

2014-2016 Discussion/Proposals
2016-2020 Preliminary Studies/Assessment
2020-2024 Final alignment studies/EIS/Funding Finalized
2025-2034 Construction
2034-2035 Operational

Using this very basic time-line, by the time construction commences on any extension, the Purple Line already will have been operational about five years, the complete Silver Line six years. I'm concerned that if we pause too long after these projects complete, it will take a laborious and time-consuming push to regain momentum for light rail and Metrorail expansion.

As I noted previously, we need to think big, plan big. We need to get people excited thinking about transit possibilities, about how new projects might be funded and ultimately built. Attitudes are quickly evolving about transit. The success Arlington has had with its Rosslyn-Ballston corridor induced Fairfax County to move forward with the Silver Line. Not everyone is yet on board, and probably never will be, but the trend is clear -- transit and walkable communities are rapidly gaining favor with business and residents alike.

Let's get a discussion going about light rail development and Metrorail expansion. And soon. Nothing starts in a vacuum.

by Sage on Jul 29, 2013 4:31 pm • linkreport

informal public discussion such as has occurred on this blog, can of course continue. I would suggest that around 2018 would be a time to consider funding corridor/feasibility studies. At that point the Purple Line and Silver Line Phase 2 will be complete. As will several large new developments in Tysons. What happens with subsequent steps will depend on the results of that study and public discussion at that time. There is no reason I can see for the NVTA to prioritize funding such a study over other riper transit projects in the years prior to 2018.

I also do not see why getting people excited about walkable communities or transit necessarilly implies a focus on the Purple Line to Tysons. There are several other important transit corridors in NoVa to address as well.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 29, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

The Silver Line has put a bad taste in many people's mouths, due to the cost and the main source of funding -- drivers on the Dulles Toll Road. And when people become aware of the additional, massive road projects needed by 2030 to sustain Tysons, the taste will sour even more. In short, I think many will be angry when they realize Dulles Rail didn't fix traffic and they need to pay more for roads to help fix it. Quite a few elected officials have made great promises about the Silver Line.

I think it would be good for transit to allow the public to digest the Silver Line. Hopefully, over the next five to ten years, ridership will grow significantly and it will be seen as a positive. It would also help if Fairfax County were to impose a parking tax within the TOD areas.

There are still many people in Fairfax County who see the benefit of transit as being "all my neighbors will ride so my commute becomes easy." When their commutes stay the same or get worse, there will be more backlash.

We've bit off a lot with the Silver Line and Tysons. I think we need time to let them both develop.

by tmt on Jul 29, 2013 4:55 pm • linkreport

"The Silver Line has put a bad taste in many people's mouths, due to the cost and the main source of funding -- drivers on the Dulles Toll Road. "

The silver line is being heavily funded by federal grants, as well as commonwealth grants, county grants from FFX and LoCo, contributions from Tysons developers and the DTR tolls. The DTR tolls substitute for a value capture mechanism on properties in the vicinity of the Silver Line.

I would say there is a range of feelings about the Silver Line, from sour taste to excitement.

But the key, from the Purple Line POV is how much of a WUP Tysons turns into. On the one hand we don't want to spend a lot on transit in advance of the transformation, but on the other we don't want to impede the transformation by investing too little in transit (that will leave an auto centric Tysons generating congestion that will certainly leave everyone disappointed and angry).

I think that prioritizing a study of seperate ROW transit on Rte 7 SE from Tysons, as the NVTA is doing, is the right approach - look for projects with more bang for the buck, that are less dependent on difficult contingencies. And that run through areas IN NoVa, that NoVa jurisdictions definitely do want to densify.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jul 29, 2013 5:06 pm • linkreport

Before the Silver LIne, Fairfax County's vested interest in Metrorail was limited. To be sure, the County's outlying stations -- Vienna, Dunning Loring and Franconia-Springfield -- are important nodes, but they are mainly commuter hubs that funnel workers from the county to worksites in Arlington, Alexandria and District.

With the advent of the Silver Line, however, a sea change is taking place. Fairfax County now has a strong interest in seeing Metro succeed and thrive. The County is "all in," so to speak. The importance of this in and of itself cannot be underestimated. Here we have a county that wholly embraced the automobile for several decades and is only now beginning to shift gears in another direction. It bodes well for the region that they are doing so.

Has the process and funding of the Silver Line rubbed some people the wrong way? Most definitely. The users of the Dulles Toll Road, in particular, have been hit hard. And it irritates all the more for some who see and have no other option than driving, even after the Silver LIne is up and running.

Although the Feds contributed $900 million in funding for Stage 1 of the Silver Line, very little has been forthcoming for Stage 2. Compared to the bacon that New York reps have delivered for the Second Avenue Subway project, our pols have fallen short in garnering gravy. And if wasn't for the MWAA stepping up as the overseeing developmental entity, whose push finally got things rolling, we would not have what we see today.

For now, with the newly constructed HOT lanes, the traffic situation in Tysons is manageable. Moreover, it may be years before the HOT lanes achieve full utilization. Also as a good portion of Tysons' new development will be apartments, the new residents will likely work in nearby offices or in workplaces along the Dulles Corridor. The Silver Line will beckon to many, even those who own a car. In time, this will pull cars off heavily traveled roads.

It's a challenge to visualize how Tysons will transform. We have sketches and site plans, but how well these will translate to reality remains uncertain. The area may or may not develop into a vibrant hub. Everything that is built from here on out becomes important, some projects more than others. Tysons is not compact like Ballson or Bethesda. It needs compactness, more walkability.

It's very affirming to see that local transit studies for Rt. 7 are proceeding. To me, the best viable option is light rail with a dedicated ROW. How the quagmire at Seven Corners will be managed will be crucial. Expanding the roadway to add lane miles for cars seems counterproductive. We need transportation options, not just another traffic inducing scheme.

by Sage on Jul 29, 2013 8:46 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or