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Freddie Mac downsizing is an opportunity for Tysons

While much of Tysons Corner is slated to become a new urban center, parts of the area will remain disconnected office parks for the foreseeable future. By planning for future demand and leveraging rising property values, Fairfax County can encourage more investment in the area and provide new public amenities, like improved transit.


Freddie Mac's campus in Tysons. Photo by the author.

Last week, President Obama announced that the federal government may try to reduce its support for mortgage company Freddie Mac, headquartered in Tysons Corner. If Freddie Mac eventually downsized or consolidated its operations, they might sell their 37.8-acre campus on Jones Branch Drive, far from Tysons' core or the Silver Line.

This may not happen for years, if not decades. By then, it may not be as desirable a location, especially when the Silver Line opens and Tysons begins the transition to a more urban, walkable place. But a land sale could be an opportunity to bring one of its largest office parks in line with the larger vision.

Freddie Mac's campus contains just 800,000 square feet of Class A office space. When built in 2002, it had a very desirable location: direct access to the Dulles Toll Road and adjacent to the Westpark transit center, served by 6 Fairfax Connector routes. It's also close to the new Jones Branch Drive exit on the new 495 Express lanes.


Map of Tysons with Freddie Mac and Jones Branch Drive from the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment and edited by the author.

By 2025, much of the land around the four future Tysons metro stations will be substantially developed. The street grid will still be discontinuous, and each of the station areas may act as a discreet hub, similar to Reston Town Center. But the area will have enough density to justify its own internal transit needs, perhaps even exceeding the capacity of bus service.

Meanwhile, the office parks of North Tysons, where Freddie Mac is located, may have filled in with some residential development. But it still won't have direct access to transit, nor is it covered by the design guidelines of the Tysons Comprehensive Plan, which guides the redevelopment of Tysons. Freddie Mac's property will be very valuable, but the current zoning and allowable density prevents major redevelopment from occurring.

In order to take advantage of this site's potential, two things need to happen. First, Fairfax County should rezone the property for higher density and mixed-use development to fit with the larger vision for Tysons Corner. Second, the county should start planning for high-quality transit service to North Tysons that can not only support future redevelopment, but be financed by it as well.


Street section of light rail on Jones Bridge Drive. Image from the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment.

The Tysons Comprehensive Plan refers to a light rail circulator that would serve parts of Tysons Corner that are far from the Silver Line. The estimated cost of a 2.5-mile light rail line along Jones Bridge Drive between the future McLean and Spring Hill Metro stations (via a future bridge over Scotts Run) is about $60 million.

This assumes that Jones Bridge's existing right-of-way could accommodate a new rail line. Let's take a worst-case scenario and say the county would need an additional $40 million in right-of-way. For approximately 200,000 square feet of land, that comes out to a very conservative $8.8 million per acre.

With a floor-area ratio (FAR) of 3.0, Freddie Mac's 37.8 acres could easily support 5 million square feet of development. (To compare, the property's current FAR is about .5, and the maximum FAR allowed in downtown DC is 10.) If the county rezoned the property, they could also levy a special tax as was done for rezoned properties associated with the Silver Line, or to cover school and public safety improvements.

At the current assessed price per square foot, a fully built-out development on this property would have assessed value of $2.1 billion, generating $23.1 million in taxes to Fairfax County and $2.1 million in special taxes each year. The county could initiate a bond using the special tax as backing that could pay for all capital costs associated with the light rail.

Is this all pie in the sky? Of course, as is the case with all long-term planning, everything over the course of 20 or 30 years is an assumption based on reasonable estimates created from a past history. If Tysons' critics are right, it may struggle to get development activity going, and vacancy rates could be high enough to undermine the marketability of such a land transfer. If that were the case, the above scenario would not be necessary.

So far, that's not the case. Land sales in Tysons have garnered a lot of private interest, especially for large corporate campuses. If those trends continue, Freddie Mac could sell their property to a developer in the future, and the county as well as taxpayers could really benefit. It would also be a step towards creating a new type of infrastructure in Tysons, giving more options to commuters, workers, shoppers, and residents.

What the sprawl history of Tysons has taught us is that if you don't plan for the future, you are destined to end up with a disconnected mess. Instead of leaving the Freddie Mac property to deteriorate or hoping for a new corporate tenant, Fairfax County needs to plan their next steps and leverage future changes to the benefit of Tysons and the county.

Navid Roshan is a civil engineer who works and lives in Tysons Corner. He has a degree in civil engineering from Virginia Institute of Technology, has worked in the Northern Virginia land development field for 10 years, and has been a resident of Fairfax County for 27 years. Navid blogs at The Tysons Corner about reforming poor land use and design practices in the Northern Virginia region. 

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If the purple line ever makes it across the western Potomac wouldnt it be coming in near the McLean station? Would this circulator be part of the Purple line or would there be a transfer at McLean allowing the Purple line to one day continue south to Annandale?

by Richard B on Aug 12, 2013 10:27 am • linkreport

I hadn't considered the connection to the purple line. Of course a crossing of the river will be costly and difficult to politically negotiate. I'd assume that would add a layer to this concept that might not be digestible to the public/county for finding a zero-cost basis.

by Tysons Engineer on Aug 12, 2013 11:06 am • linkreport

Good luck trying to get the Purple Line through what is the one of richest parts of McLean into Tysons.

by ceefer66 on Aug 12, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

TE

this sounds like a good idea.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Good luck trying to get the Purple Line through what is the one of richest parts of McLean into Tysons.

I am assuming that in 2030 after the Purple Line has been open for 10 years and hasn't brought terrible crime or noise to SS and Bethesda, and that it has started to transform Langley Park into a more upmarket place that it might be feasible. In 15 years gas may be more expensive, transit may be more popular, traffic may be worse. If Tysons becomes a walkable utopia, there will be a lot of demand.

123 could support light rail from a crossing near the CIA to Tysons. So long as we are talking pie in the sky dreams like this I would include a fairly popular pie in the sky dream of having the purple line continue down the Georgetown branch and cross the river.

by Richard B on Aug 12, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

This also leaves me with a question of what will happen to Westpark Transit Center once the Silver line is completed. That location would probably have been a good spot for one of the metrostations since that entire area is quite far from the closest station

by kk on Aug 12, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

The Westpark TC will still be used, though sadly even though I urged FCDOT and Fairfax Connector to utilize it better, it will have reduced service compared to what it currently has.

The 401/402 will be removed from it, as will the 23A, 425/427 is discontinued. It will continue to have the 2T, 495F/G, as well as 2 of the new Tysons Circulator bus routes.

It will be used, but not to its full potential. Who knows, the additional 1000 residents coming from the almost complete park crest two, and the final park crest three might show demand in a few years. Its actually a really nice and fairly comfortable facility.

by Tysons Engineer on Aug 12, 2013 12:19 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure if it's more confusing that you don't always use the alias anymore or that you don't always use your real name in the comments following a post by you, Tysons Engineer.

by selxic on Aug 12, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

I didn't mean to cause you confusion. It was just a saved setting here.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

The Freddie Mac campus is outside the TOD areas in Tysons. The grand compromise that resulted in the revised Comp Plan rejected "outlying landowners'" requests for significant increases in density. The neighboring communities and their organizations would oppose adding significant density on the Freddie Mac campus, especially since it would likely cause other outlying landowners to ask for similar density. That, in turn, would spark a huge and ugly political fight that no one wants. Supervisors Foust and Smyth would also oppose the change to meet the needs of their constituents. With their opposition, the Comp Plan would not be changed.

The landowners within the TOD area would also likely object to spreading the density to places its not wanted -- outside the TOD.

VDOT would also require a new 527 TIA. It doesn't make any sense to open the Tysons agreement and Comp Plan now. Sometime after 2030, the time will be ripe to revisit the Plan.

BTW, former Planning Commissioner and architect of the grand compromise, Walter Alcorn, favored building townhouses and even SFH on small lots on parcels such as the Freddie Mac campus if and when it was ready for redevelopment. He saw this type of housing as a good transition into suburban communities.

by tmt on Aug 12, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

TMT; supervisor foust would likely be retired. The people who currently live in the area would like not even remember the comp plan.

This is 10 to 15 years down the line, and involves a new TOD being created which is the central focus of the discussion. Not to mention there is no surrounding community to Freddie Mac, so those busy bodies on the other side of the toll road, separated by a 200' right of way, and an 8 acre soccer field should really find something new to complain about.

:)

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

" Sometime after 2030, the time will be ripe to revisit the Plan."

TE above says 2025. I don't think we are all that far apart.

"BTW, former Planning Commissioner and architect of the grand compromise, Walter Alcorn, favored building townhouses and even SFH on small lots on parcels such as the Freddie Mac campus if and when it was ready for redevelopment. He saw this type of housing as a good transition into suburban communities."

Er, next door to the Dulles Toll Road? Isn't the DTR a sufficient barrier for the neighborhoods to its north?

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

That last statement was a general (McLean NIMBYs should not factor into future Tysons statement) not directed at you TMT.

This is something that should come back up in the future for discussion instead of continuing the old Tysons way of, let em build it, and don't make them pay for it. Thats what the idea is really trying to avoid.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

I am assuming that in 2030 after the Purple Line has been open for 10 years and hasn't brought terrible crime or noise to SS and Bethesda

The neighborhoods around Forest Glen still believe this about the Red Line. I doubt that 10 years of success in Maryland (another state, where democrats and poor people sometimes live!) will do anything to convince the people of McLean that transit is a wise investment.

I hate being the naysayer in matters like these -- I'm often naively optimistic -- but I just don't see a place like McLean ever becoming receptive to opening up its borders to a constant stream of outsiders.

by andrew on Aug 12, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

@Andrew

Agree; considering McLean's MCA is against new density adjacent to them, where traffic won't be generated going through McLean (because its further out), it's likely they would also be against any use of 123 for non-bus transit. Also theres not much room for 123 to grow in some areas for right of way.

As I've said before, sadly, the only solution would be to use the median of the beltway, in addition to what would likely have to be a continuation of the HOT lanes across the American Legion, which would also need to be modernized and widened.

All of this falls into the same ole same ole trap of mega projects instead of making our towns and cities work better initially. It would be 5-6 billion easily once you add in these political elements; which then would be brought up by the same people who opposed the cheaper options (through McLean) as a boondoggle.

Who knows though, by 2030 the demographic make up of McLean might skew younger more tech savvy and transit open.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

@ Richard B:In 15 years gas may be more expensive, transit may be more popular, traffic may be worse.

And remember that due to the HOT lanes, I-495 may not be widened for 75 years...

by Jasper on Aug 12, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

The portion of Tysons that is north of Route 7 lies within the boundaries of the McLean Citizens Association's area. The Association has dues-paying members who live in that area. The MCA will most certainly remain involved in what occurs in Tysons. And elected officials will continue to be interested in the MCA's views. Similarly, residents of McLean will certainly be interested in what any candidates for Dranesville Supervisor have to say about implementing and changing the Tysons Comp Plan. Indeed, the MCA has a seat on the Tysons Partnership Board of Directors and two seats on the board of the Tysons service district advisory board. Tysons landowners affirmatively seek the MCA's review of their rezoning applications, which have generally been supported because they are normally consistent with the Comp Plan and the applicants have addressed community concerns. Two of the applications did not fully comply with the Comp Plan and MCA support was conditioned on the correction of certain deficiencies.

At the same time, the MCA has not opined on any specific rezoning case from the other (Vienna) side of Tysons.

McLean will be heavily involved in Tysons for many, many years. And elected officials will take account of what the Community has to say.

by tmt on Aug 12, 2013 3:13 pm • linkreport

"The portion of Tysons that is north of Route 7 lies within the boundaries of the McLean Citizens Association's area. "

How are these boundaries determined? It seems like as the population of Tysons grows, a Tysons Citizens Association would make sense.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

The MCA has no control over anything south of DTR. I'm sorry, but that isn't McLean, it is Tysons and it is covered via the Tysons Comp Plan and future comp plans. What residential development south of the DTR is part of the MCA? I know Park Crest isnt (actually adjacent to Freddie Mac), nor is Avalon Crescent, Avalon Park Crest, Post, or other high density residence (ie residents of Tysons, ie people who's opinion should be considered not people who live on the other side of a 10 lane highway)

Thank you :)

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 4:22 pm • linkreport

When the MCA starts paying special taxes as part of Tysons for transportation, when the MCA stops trying to grab an entire police district to itself, when the MCA stop trying to keep "those children" away from their precious

Then I might take them seriously as "one of those Tysons people".

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 4:26 pm • linkreport

Gentlemen,

The Bylaws of the McLean Citizens Association set forth the boundaries of the Association. The area encompassed is "the area bounded by the Potomac River, the Arlington County line, Falls Church City line, Route 7, the Dulles Access Road to Difficult Run, and along Difficult Run to the Potomac" constitutes the membership area. As I wrote, this includes that portion of Tysons north of Route 7 is included. A number of dues-paying members reside within Tysons. The board has included Tysons residents from time to time. Residents of the Tysons area often attend MCA meetings, serve on committees and have reached out to the Association with problems. There are members with McLean, Vienna, Falls Church, Great Falls, and now, Tysons addresses, all of whom live within the above-described boundaries. Both Supervisors Foust and Smyth regularly work with the MCA on Tysons issues affecting their constituents.

Residents of Tysons on both sides of Tysons might well some day form some sort of umbrella association. Some who live within the Providence District are active in the Providence District Council as well.

I'm not trying to argue, just explain what the situation is.

by tmt on Aug 12, 2013 4:40 pm • linkreport

AWITC - As an organization forms, they can set their own boundary at founding. The county has some info on their website about the ins and outs of forming and running a civic association.

That said, given the size of Tyson's, you wouldn't likely end up with a TCCA. Smaller sub-divisions, or HOAs in a residential building, would be much more likely. Even something more geographically split up would work. Looking at the map above, I could see large umbrealla groups forming . And of course, the Fairfax Federation of Civic Orgs would cover all of this until more local options sprung up.

by Soule22303 on Aug 12, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

"The Bylaws of the McLean Citizens Association set forth the boundaries of the Association. "

so its unilateral? I mean the Annandale Citizens Association could in theory change its bylaws to include Tysons right? Or, more realistically, Pimmit Hills could. And a Tysons Civic Association could and they could all overlap.

I guess in some places its not unusual for different "civic" associations with different agendas to compete for the claim to represent an area. One could well envision a future where a Tysons Civic Assc contests the Mclean CA. While MCA will still be heard on issues effecting Mclean, they will have to work hard to convince the BOS, in that case, that they should also be heard on issues internal to Tysons itself. If their concerns conflict with broader county goals, that might be even harder.

Also we are at an early stage in the consciousness of Tysons on the part of the county as a whole. No one would take seriously say, that residents have of Logan Circle or near SW would have a special right to determine zoning and planning questions for the DC CBD. People in Burke and Annandale and Mt Vernon and Centreville do not yet think of Tysons as "downtown Fairfax County". If the Tysons project works, they will. And at that point, the special rights of Mclean and other surrounding neighborhoods in the planning of Tysons will look more and more anomalous.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 4:52 pm • linkreport

"That said, given the size of Tyson's, you wouldn't likely end up with a TCCA."

Tysons is small in area, but will be the densest place in Fairfax. Its is expected to approach a population of 100k by 2050. It will definitely be as worthy of a CA as Mclean or Annandale.

" Smaller sub-divisions, or HOAs in a residential building, would be much more likely. "

I was under the impression that CAs are open to all residents of an area, including renters. While they are thought by some to represent homeowners only, if that were made official, I suspect it would lower their influence, in a county with large numbers of renters.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 4:56 pm • linkreport

I mean ultimately the MCA, like all CA's has as much power as the BOS allows. there has been much discussion of the imperative on the part of the BOS, the Tysons landowners, etc to defer to CAs esp MCA. I am sure that MCA is aware that its possible for them to overplay there hand. And that has certainly influenced their willingness to accept what has happened so far. I think given that TE expects a higher transit share for Tysons than current models predict, and a large, enthusiastically "urbanist" Tysons population - and given also continued evolution in the demographics of the County as a whole - I dont think what he is advocatig for strikes me as politically naive for the time frame he is looking at.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 5:00 pm • linkreport

I don't think TMT meant to start a feud here, but frankly I am sick and tired of the landed gentry of McLean holding special zoning condemnation over the idea of Tysons. It diluted the silver line, it diluted the comprehensive plan, it forces large highway components be built at the same time as the countys goal to turn Tysons more urban, and all of this from the other side of a 200' wide highway right of way in which the trees and angle of view block out anything under 400' anyways

It's disgusting

They are ruining the lives of people who actually live in the area they are stifling so that their "view" wont be disturbed, or so that traffic won't increase on their streets (they need a map because McLean is east of Tysons). Who are they to tell residents of Park Crest, Avalon, Post, Rotonda that they can't have some nice retail and light rail transit options?

I agree with Walker, the MCA will ultimately over play its hand.

This concept is also far in the future, and as I said before the MCA might look completely different in that time frame. If not, I can assure by that time that if I haven't started the TCA (a group who will advocate for things that matter to Tysons residents for once instead of placating NIMBYs miles away) that someone else will have. And maybe then, at that point of critical mass we can start to avoid ideas like

Downzoning a 0.5FAR office building to town homes along an elevated highway shielded by 90' mature oak trees from McLean as well as a soccer field.

Love and smooches - an annoyed actual resident of Tysons not McLean

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 5:23 pm • linkreport

"I agree with Walker, the MCA will ultimately over play its hand."

to clarify - I did not say they WOULD overplay their hand. Far from it. They are a group of politically astute people, and I suspect they will strategically adjust to evolving conditions, to maintain as much influence as they can.

I would suggest though, that the reiteration on this blog (and in other places) of just how much influence MCA does have, is perhaps not the best strategy for maintaining that influence.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 12, 2013 5:29 pm • linkreport

@AWITC Noted

I wonder what the actual membership is. Rob Jackson (former head) wrote in the connection a while ago that the MCA represents 26,000 households. I wonder if that is just how many homes are within this made up boundary they have created, vs how many are actual members or even sympathetic to the decisions being made by the aggressively NIMBY board.

26,000 due paying members would be impressive for sure, and clearly explains why they garner such an ear on the BoS; but I wonder if its a ghost population and if membership were not far far less, but appear to be larger and more influential by shear geography alone (grabbing parts of Tysons, Great Falls, Vienna, and McLean).

Dont know, its not really clear.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 12, 2013 5:42 pm • linkreport

I don't know McLean at all, but I imagine they could do what the Ruston/Riderwood area of Baltimore County did, allow the light rail line, but refuse to have stations. It was stupid, sure. But that area is pretty lightly developed anyway. Stations there wouldn't have made much difference in terms of contribution to ridership.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1998-02-27/news/1998058065_1_light-rail-improvement-association-ruxton

Like McLean, parts of this area are quite wealthy.

And it would be worse for McLean than it is for R/R to not have stations. You'd think that by now, enough people in the Greater Washington area would be familiar with rail-based transit to not be reflexively oppositional, but of course, it still isn't the case, e.g., "those people", etc.

In Baltimore is where I first heard the term "loot rail" to refer to "those people who take the light rail to the suburbs to rob people and steal from businesses."

... although of course, by far, more crimes are facilitated by automobiles and the road network.

by Richard Layman on Aug 12, 2013 7:28 pm • linkreport

It seems to me that there is some confusion over the role of civic associations in Fairfax County. Obviously, they are not governmental or quasi-governmental bodies. They are private nonprofit organizations, generally 501(c)(4) entities, that advocate on behalf of their membership. Some times members are HOAs or neighborhood organizations. In other cases, individuals can join. Many other people are happy to see these associations working for the community or on their special problem even when they don't participate on a regular basis.

They are often effective because of their commitment, willingness to do hard work and produce analyses of high quality. Effective associations understand the issues; engage with those with similar or differing views; and offer reasonable solutions backed by fact and analysis. This is no different from any other association, such as the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.

The Board of Supervisors doesn't give associations authority. Rather, many associations have earned credibility through what they do. Mr. Roshan's attacks are factually incorrect and unwarranted.

by tmt on Aug 13, 2013 8:36 am • linkreport

Yes I am aware of that TMT, but the BoS does see "membership numbers" and say uh oh, if I don't listen to these guys Im gonna get voted out even if many of the members might not agree with certain stances or even know about them.

In this case, the MCA continues to meddle with Tysons, which likely annoys some of the residents in Tysons who would like to see better improvements, urban density, etc.

Some Tysons residents may not, none that I have met I suppose but its a big town.

Either way, McLean residents can complain if they wish, but it'd be like me complaining about Mosaic district from Tysons, or Reston, or Vienna and urging the BoS to do things that affects the lives of residents who actually live there, using my clout rather than my geographic (logical) right.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 8:43 am • linkreport

The Bylaws of the McLean Citizens Association set forth the boundaries of the Association. The area encompassed is...

The area encompassed is apparently 2X the size of what the actual boundaries of the McLean CDP are?

by MLD on Aug 13, 2013 8:45 am • linkreport

"The Board of Supervisors doesn't give associations authority. Rather, many associations have earned credibility through what they do. Mr. Roshan's attacks are factually incorrect and unwarranted."

They have earned influence over public policy the same way other private organizations do. By their clout. The citizens of Fairfax County pay for unbiased analyses, by professional staff and paid contractors. MCA can try to add their knowledge to strengthen their case, as does the Chamber, as does FABB, as does CSG. But ultimately the influence of all such organizations is their ability to influence votes, directly or indirectly. Who the BOS thinks they speak for. If the BOS thinks the MCA speaks for all the residents of Mclean AND the residents of Tysons, that will give them more influence versus if the BOS thinks they do not speak for the residents of Tysons. It will also be less if they refuse to compromise.

MCA has lost on issues large and small - from the expansion of Tysons into an urban district itself, to the tunnel vs elevated question. They have extracted a compromise on density in Tysons, but the realities of the marketplace mean that the total density possible in Tysons by 2050 may not have been much higher anyway. They won a small victory on getting some parking spots temporarily by the metro stations. They along with several other autocentric areas won a victory by getting unrelated projects into "Table 7" and generally having table 7 based on "old paradigm" traffic projections (in which they were aided by VDOT and by the fact that Tysons is the first transformation of its kind) They have many battles to fight. I expect they will win some, and they will lose some.

I would suggest again that the constant reiteration of "give up on this idea, MCA will never allow it" only increases resentment of MCA, and thereby undermines its influence. It also suggests to me that MCA fears discussion of such projects - fearing that such discussion will build up a momentum that does impact the policy discussion.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 9:11 am • linkreport

AWITC

"They along with several other autocentric areas won a victory by getting unrelated projects into "Table 7" and generally having table 7 based on "old paradigm" traffic projections (in which they were aided by VDOT and by the
fact that Tysons is the first transformation of its kind)."

That is not a true statement. The MCA had no input into what projects were put into Table 7. Those projects were proposed by FC DOT based on traffic studies. The MCA accepted those projects along with their links to specific levels of growth based on the revised Comp Plan. Some individuals and groups attempted to argue to the County that the projects were not needed, but were unable to explain why in a manner that contradicted the studies.

There have been instances over the years where the staff has agreed with MCA's objections or corrections. Much of the work of the MCA is done by experienced engineers and architects.

If you or Mr. Roshan believe the traffic studies are wrong, can you demonstrate why? With all due respect, all I've seen is bald statements that the traffic studies are wrong.

The MCA also made major improvements to the Plan that will benefit both Tysons residents and workers. For example, the Task Force supported but a single rectangular field at Tysons. MCA advocacy caused this to be raised to 20 fields. Similarly, advocacy has also resulted in the addition of a community center in Tysons. I suspect both current and future residents of Tysons will benefit greatly from these additional facilities.

There have been no credible arguments surrounding communities, e.g., McLean, Vienna, Falls Church, should not be involved with Tysons. The BoS chartered the Task Force with a goal of protecting surrounding neighborhoods. Since then, they have continued to insist on this policy. Is this wrong?

Protecting the surrounding communities means keeping the density at the four TOD areas; ensuring transportation facility increases are available when the development arrives at Tysons; ensuring other public facilities are added to support Tysons in a timely manner. How this can be anti-Tysons escapes me. The Tysons Partnership board does not see this as anti-Tysons. Rather, they see it a part of the social contract that permits urban development in Tysons.

by tmt on Aug 13, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

"If you or Mr. Roshan believe the traffic studies are wrong, can you demonstrate why? With all due respect, all I've seen is bald statements that the traffic studies are wrong."

I will leave that to Mr Roshan who is more familiar with the details of current disputes within the field of traffic engineering. My general sense is that the mode share parameters in the Tysons traffic studies were not specific to WUPs.

"There have been no credible arguments surrounding communities, e.g., McLean, Vienna, Falls Church, should not be involved with Tysons."

They should have SOME involvement. That involvement should be balanced by advocates for residents of Tysons itself. And since Tysons is the County's downtown, the BOS will need to make sure that County wide interests are protected.

" The BoS chartered the Task Force with a goal of protecting surrounding neighborhoods. Since then, they have continued to insist on this policy. Is this wrong?"

It depends on exactly what is done to protect those neighborhoods.

"Protecting the surrounding communities means keeping the density at the four TOD areas; ensuring transportation facility increases are available when the development arrives at Tysons; ensuring other public facilities are added to support Tysons in a timely manner. How this can be anti-Tysons escapes me."

opposition to useful projects, like the article that started this thread. Insistence on parking at metro stations in Tysons. Opposition to LRT access to Tysons. Apparently supporting general travel lanes vs transit only lanes on rte 7 SE of Tysons. Supporting the widenging of 123 and rte 7 in Tysons, which will undermine the walkability of Tysons.

" The Tysons Partnership board does not see this as anti-Tysons. Rather, they see it a part of the social contract that permits urban development in Tysons."

Ie they accepted that the neighboring communities had clout, and they had to make a deal.

Again, the social contract was made at a time when A. most of the county outside the neighboring areas, did not see a strong stake in the project. B. Tysons itself had relatively few residents, and many of those moved into auto focused developments and dislike the changes coming.

In 15 years Tysons will have many more residents, many of whom will have chosen it for urbanist reasons. And the rest of the County (and not only the Chamber and the BOS) will be more aware of it, and its importance to the County. We will also have a much clearer idea of the impact of Tysons design

I suggest that at that point the forces will begin to align to renegotiate the social contract for Tysons.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

I havent yet read all of these, but this is a good place to start on the new thinking about traffic forecasting.

http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/mxd_tripgeneration.html

I think there is abundant reason to be concerned about making investments that will permanently make Tysons less walkable at a time when the whole traffic forecasting paradigm for places like this is evolving.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

AWITC is spot on TMT. Its not that I disagree with the computer programs, I disagree with the transpo engineers (of which I used to be one), who have no knowledge of how land use growth will occur in the region as a whole, or what mixed use development generates as far as traffic volumes, nor what increased development in TOD will mean as far as transportation use shares.

They are making MASSIVE assumptions in the base parameters, holding onto suburban office/resident generation formulas (ie X number per Xsf car trips) which simply is inaccurate in modeling urban settings.

YES I understand that Tysons is not Arlington, but the future growth will also not be "Tysons" in the way that the transportation system operatates.

Making 8 lane highways, because of bad assumptions only continues the cycle of mediocrity and poor transportation calming. You can call it an improvement, I call them barriers to my well being and ability to stop driving.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

Example. My residence has 2 people. We live in Tysons. The county says because of the # of bedrooms, we should be generating 14 car trips from our home, and based on our office sizes 6 car trips from our offices, for 20 daily car trips per work day.

We instead make on average 3.5 car trips per day because we have transit near by, office near by, grocery near by. We simply do not use our car like suburbanites do, and this is even without the metro and additional development around.

You may say we are the exception, but that is what urbanization of an area does to a larger portion than previously, so the ratios start seeming absurd when using the suburban model.

The transpo models also don't discuss the average distance of travel. A city dweller that lives a carcentric life may indeed use the car just as much as a suburbanite, but the length of time on the road (vehicle miles) is completely different and therefore their impact on traffic queue is completely different.

Its simply antiquated and shows poor engineering on the part of FCDOT and VDOT to continue the same ole same ole that has solved so many traffic problems from Atlanta to LA to well... here in NOVA.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 12:38 pm • linkreport

Fairfax County DOT engineers took account of mixed use development, the Silver Line, increased bus transit, increased bike and pedestrian infrastructure and very strict TDM obligations for the December 2009 %@& TIA submission to VDOT. They compared existing traffic volumes, expected traffic volumes for 2030 with no changes and expected traffic volumes for 2030 under the then proposed Comp Plan. They looked at travel times and Level of Service. They looked at modal splits and changes in modal splits. They studied roads and selected intersections. They built in the impact of the County's planned bus improvement plans for the next ten years. They considered restructured bus routes and the addition of new neighborhood bus routes. They factored in internal circulator buses within Tysons. They looked at Bethesda an the Route 185, River Road and 355 corridors. The studies clearly included calculations that assume more people would use transportation solutions other than SOV.

The study considered the phase in of transit and road projects, including the grid of streets. The studies assume aggressive TOD goals, including a 45% reduction from Institute of Traffic Engineer estimates for the 1/8 mile ring just between 2010 and 2020. The study assumed major reductions in the availability of parking within TOD areas. The study assume the use of intelligent transportation information.

And the traffic studies have gone much further. Since the BoS approved approximately 30% more development than was modeled for the 2009 TIA, FC DOT is conducting three more studies that examine the impacts on transportation and transit for each proposed building throughout the redevelopment of Tysons. Throughout both studies (2009 and ongoing) the Fairfax County planning staff regularly provided input to the traffic studies.

TE where do you get your information about the traffic studies? It certainly seems that FC DOT and its consultants considered the effect of everything you believe should be considered. Where is your evidence that these studies assume a suburban model? The facts seem to demonstrate just the opposite.

AWITC "My general sense is that the mode share parameters in the Tysons traffic studies were not specific to WUPs." What supports this assumption?

by tmt on Aug 13, 2013 3:19 pm • linkreport

most of the items you mention (presence of transit, modeling the new streets) would be part of an old paradigm traffic study.

"They looked at Bethesda an the Route 185, River Road and 355 corridors."

I'm not sure what this means. That they validated their paramaters by looking at Bethesda? I'm not sure Bethesda as it currently is matches what Tysons is expected to be.

"the Fairfax County planning staff regularly provided input to the traffic studies."

which is neither here nor there as far as the methodology of the studies.

The other details I will leave to navid to discuss.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 3:35 pm • linkreport

Shouldn't the onus be on the traffic engineers to prove that their projections (based on assumptions layered on top of assumptions) are worth any weight rather than the other way around?

Don Shoup has a whole lot of analysis of the lack of rigor in ITE trip generation numbers.

I get the desire to have some analysis, but just because someone throws some numbers around doesn't mean those numbers are accurate.

by Alex B. on Aug 13, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

No they gave lip service to those elements, they didn't significantly modify their future demand forecasts with them in mind.

What was discussed in the Tysons Comp Amendment as far as future demand and what the current developers are facing with VDOT signalization and road design requirements are two separate things.

Whats the benefit of having a study tell you one thing, but keep on implementing the same ole same ole.

The study said the ramps to DTR wouldn't be necessary for several years, if at all. Seems like that got thrown out on day one by the DOTs.

You can keep going back to mathmatical models, it has nothing to do with the models. It has to do with the processing of the data and what it means and what the base assumptions you are putting in. I remain vehemently cynical to any study that used urban areas as a primer, that results in a requirement to make a 12-lane super highway tied to development levels, as well as more highway ramps, as well as a widened route 7 cutting Tysons further apart.

None of those things occurred in the very areas you say that FCDOT "looked over" in their creation of the models. If anything those areas are now readdressing existing pavement to return to non-SOV use.

Reality vs model, something don't line up

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

I am also going by the comments in this thread

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10481/meet-the-next-generation-of-planners/

"Ask the Coalition about the need to widen the Dulles Toll Road, with strip takings, invasions of multiple Resource Protection Areas and the paving of part of Wolf Trap National Park to accommodate Smart Growth at Tysons Corner. The Coalition cannot and will not answer this question. This is fraud on the people of Northern Virginia. "

"Everyone wins if Tysons develops and reduces the growth in vehicle traffic. I hope the transit mode split beats projection, but it is projected to be less than Bethesda and the RB corridor in Arlington. But Tysons is not like any other redevelopment project in the world. It has been successful because of its auto access."

you have been hostile to the redevelopment of tysons for some time, though you have learned to mask your rhetoric at least here. I also do not believe that transit share in Tysons will be lower than in Bethesda.

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 3:44 pm • linkreport

@TMT, I am not gonna keep rehashing the same argument. We have discussed this through atleast 40,000 characters on another thread. You have your opinion, I have mine. That is all they are, opinion, because there is no clairvoyance in transportation.

I am of the opinion that we should get the funds needed to address transpo in the future, but not peg our selves into solutions before we know what the future problems are.

You and many in the MCA believe that we should put a highway through it, that might solve the issue of your transportation dilemma but it also undermines the economic viability of the very area where traffic is being generated.

Much like Springfield, if Tysons lets that view point take hold, it will ultimately be dissected to irrelevance as the Mixing Bowl and Interchange did. You'll ultimately solve the transpo problem by turning Tysons into a wasteland.

Problem solved, onto the next area to ruin for the sake of making Bill in Staffords ride to work 5 minutes quicker.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 3:49 pm • linkreport

TMT

did anyone do an analysis of the impact of the widenings on walkability in Tysons? What that would mean for Tysons ultimate development capacity? For its mode share?

by AWalkerIntheCity on Aug 13, 2013 3:56 pm • linkreport

@TMT, I respect your level of awareness on these matters. We are simply always going to be adversarial when it comes to what is best for Tysons and the transportation system.

I sure wish someone would build a GD sidewalk for $40k which could help me walk to the corner of International drive without walking in traffic, instead of waste $500 million widening Route 7 though or 40 million on toll road ramps.

by Navid Roshan on Aug 13, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

Jonathan O'Connell at the Post has a story up about Freddie (primarily). Apparently, the developer is now working for CityLine and has a fondness for the quality of the buildings, comparing them to "a university." Now that's an interesting idea, perhaps with some infill towers.

Nice discussion of how broken the travel demand models are -- there's been some interesting work in that field lately, but I haven't had a chance to delve into it.

by Payton on Aug 19, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

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