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Dulles rail should go AROUND Tysons not over

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by kholbert, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    An article in today’s (7/2705) Post discusses the engineering difficulty of routing Metro through Tysons Corner. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/26/AR2005072601743.html?nav=hcmodule I'm opposed to planned Metro route through Tysons because it will be too expensive and will not serve the Dulles line as well as a route that stays on the Rt267 median. A Tysons Corner station at Spring Hill Rd (near existing bus transfer station) and a Mclean station at Rt123 would be more efficient and cost effective. Sure, these station locations are not within easy walking distance of the malls but Tysons office buildings/malls could easily run frequent shuttles to the stations.

    As currently planned, there will be NINE Metro stops between Dulles and West Falls Church. Anyone who's taken Metro knows that you could drive or take a bus the same distance in less time that it would take Metro to make all those stops. The problem with the current plan is that there are FOUR stops planned for Tysons Corner. The reason given for so many stops in Tysons is that the stops should be within walking distance of employment and shopping centers. I've worked in Tysons and it is unsafe to walk along any of Tysons arterials. Face it, Tysons is NOT Ballston (where there is lots of sidewalks and narrower rights of way).

    Tysons building owners and planners insist that without a high density of stations, Dulles rail will be underutilized. Compare how Tysons Corner is situated to other major suburban cities successfully served by Metro like Falls Church, Rockville, Silver Spring, Springfield, and Alexandria. At each of these other locations, Metro situated one maybe two stations in the right of way of nearby (<1/2 mile) highways and railroads to reduce cost. This is a DULLES rail line not Tysons. Sure many Loudoun County commuters will get off in Tysons but most will have destinations other than Tysons Corner.

    In part due to the projected high cost of building 4 stations within Tysons Corner, the first phase of the Dulles Rail will only reach Wiehle Ave. Who will that serve? No one from Herndon or farther out for sure. Who is going to drive, and park at the Wiehle station when you could go on to the new garage at West Falls Church and beat the slow Tysons train into town? Consider that two stations located at grade within the Rt 267 median would probably cost at least half of the currently proposed elevated and tunneled stations in Tysons. That’s construction money that could extend the first phase of Dulles rail from Wiehle to the existing Herndon/Monroe bus transit station. Consequently serving a much greater potential population of commuters.

    Western Fairfax and Loudoun County commuters are already paying more in tolls for future Dulles rail. Four metro stations in Tysons Corner will mostly serve to line the pockets of Tysons Corner property owners (through increased property values). Meanwhile, Loudoun commuters will be left holding proper change for tolls and parking instead of farecards. Reduce the frequency and expense of Metro stops planned for Tyson Corner and rail will serve Dulles commuters sooner.
  2. pamD

    pamD Member

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    I have to say I was surprised to see the number of stations in Tysons. But it seems given the fact that the area is so pedestrian unfriendly, I guess it is the only way it makes sense. Density in the area makes it perfect for rail, so I wouldn't be so quick to call for it to be avoided by the Metro. It is not just a destination stop (don't forget people coming from inside the beltway), but also home for many. (See today's article -
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/27/AR2005072702205.html)

    I'm also a bit skeptical about metro - it is slow and already overcrowded. But at least this is *something* to try to resolve the traffic issues. Tysons stops are probably the only way they can get corporate support (the only people who have $$ and clout). Too many people fear buses (and "bus people") to do anything different.
    But other than exercising the occasional vote, there is not much we can do about it. Whining won't help (except to raise your blood pressure).

    Pam D.
  3. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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  4. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    So now the plan is to tunnel UNDER Tysons Corner. Still too costly an option in my opinion. The proposed stations will be much smaller than typical underground Metro stops and there will only be elevator service (no escalators). At least you can still get in/out of the station with broken escalators and we all know how reliable Metro elevators are. Planners insist that Tysons will develop into a tight grid of pedestrian friendly streets with 4 metro stops along Rt 7 and 123.

    I beg to differ since no such "Urban plan" has been presented to the public. Perhaps so developers in the know can buy up parking lots near stations to convert to high rise condos/office buildings. No where near/outside the beltway has any suburban DC city served by Metro seen the density of development that is predicted for Tysons 4 stations.

    What Tysons needs is its own light rail/bus system like downtown San Diego. This system could have shared stations with Metro at Spring Hill Rd and 123. This sub system would serve far more Tysons workers/shoppers than 4 stations 5 stories underground. Even with 4 underground stations in Tysons, a dense network of feeder bus lines will be needed to serve business/residences beyond walking distance to rail station. Meanwhile Dulles/Loudoun/Reston riders arrive at their destinations without wading through 4 stops in Tysons.

    Rail through Tysons Corner will best serve the interest of Tysons property owners and not the majority of commuters/travelers who could take the Silver line.
  5. Lee

    Lee Permanent Vacation

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    I agree the subway should go around it with a above ground system such as in Houston which is quite nice and architecturally pleasing to look at. Besides you can cover more spots cheaper in Tysons.

    As far as the subway coming out to us ending at the home depot, if we don't that money is going to be spent somewhere else, and it certainly not going to be spent out here. We need to take it or it will be gone, no matter what you think of it wasteful or not.

    Potentially one of our next planning commissioners Barbara is against these mass transit centers as she was quoted in the Post Sunday. I hope if you get this job you and Snow are not going to forget about the rest of your district and only south riding and greenvest is your only agenda as I suspect. Snow more then likely will not get re-elected. The greenway and it's transit developments is going to be the center of the universe no matter how people like or dislike it, it is the place that makes sense for a downtown Loudoun and will be another tyson hopefully with more thought put in to it. It is also in Snow’s district as well as all of us here are in his district and how much do we hear from him????
    Every time I see him in the paper it is mostly greenvest and rt 50. Hate to say it but most of his constituents don’t live over there.

    Barbara and Snow just don't get that these types of developments will be the future because gas prices are headed to $5 or $6 dollars a gallon or more in a few years and greenvest type developments are going to be less and less. Personally I would like to see greenvest approved because it will become the poster child of what not to do in the future, because they are not the future. Suburbia will fade as a dismal failure a hundred years from now. Well planned dense cities and open countryside is the future.
    Skyline drive and it's reclaimed land surrounding it is one of the most successful projects of it's kind in modern history

    The subway out to here might actually look like a good buy 25 years from now as energy prices go through the roof.

    Then Barbara and Snow will be begging for an extension to south riding. :pofl:


    Lee J Buividas
  6. Barbara

    Barbara Member

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    Actually Lee, you might want to look up my comments of record on the Moorefield issue, as I said that while I saw the point of planning for transit as a better idea than retrofitting it (as I lived through that issue with both rte 66 and the entire existing Metro system while growing up here), I thought (and still do) that the triggers on Moorefield stink.

    An awful lot of 50-unit to the acre density was approved there, and a lot will come on line long before subway. Add in the interesting fact that the very next thing that Board did was buy some commuter buses, and it gets really interesting.

    Are we supposed to go into the transit business as well as the road building business? Hmmmm
  7. Lee

    Lee Permanent Vacation

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    You don't have the support of the people of Loudoun or the votes to make greenvest happen as now proposed.

    The transit system has the money and the support in the right places to make it happen and it will. Snow most likely will be gone after the next election, so you have about a year to make your greenvest dream happen, good luck girl!!!

    Lee J Buividas
  8. beahmer

    beahmer Member

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    Lee - I beg to differ with you on the fact that the "transit system has the money" The only reason it has or should I say will have money to build the system are:
    1) Commuters on the Dulles Toll Road will be forced to pay whatever it costs to cover this project. ie TOLLS. No matter whether you plan to use it or not.
    2) Land owners in Tysons will pay - I would too if I owned a crappy piece of blacktop with a car dealership on it - In Fairfax's mind I can then build a highrise condo/office project and make millions!
    3) Federal Govt share - only for Phase I so far - oh yeah and IF the project becomes to expensive the Commuters on the toll road will pick up the entire Federal share too. And the MWAA has already indicated that they could build Phase II without Federal approval by raising tolls.

    Think Metro is a great deal for the whole region, including all this mass development along the Greenway fine - let the whole region pay for it not just the commuters on the toll road.
  9. fidothedog

    fidothedog Member

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    I don't understand why they don't build a separate system (similar to an airport system - Atlanta, Newirk, etc.) that transports people around Tysons to a single Metro station in Tysons (near Spring Hill - Freddie Mac). This way the metro can go straight from Falls Church down 267 to Dulles and pick up/drop off all of the Tysons traffic in one stop. I understand that this would need to be a big Metro stop to handle the number of travelers.
  10. Lee

    Lee Permanent Vacation

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    Well it may not be the best way to fund a transit system in the immediate future but long term it may turn out better then we think. The tolls on the dulles toll road may be a little too low right now and I agree the greenway is ridiculous and it was before the last raise. At least the transit system is doable and there is support for it from the feds and the business community and most of the funding can be done. As for more roads here, they only seem to come if there is more development and not much talk at all regionally. In spite of what I say a form of greenvest likely will be approved in the next year, probably scaled down which is going to put a lot more cars on the regional roads, that right now, have no funding or any idea where the funding is going to come from.

    I really wish like Kholbert says they would run the subway around tysons and build a grade level system throughout tysons connecting to the main system. Grade level systems known as light rail have become very successful in other cities and can be beautifully done. Actually they can help revive the place to be more predestrian friendly at a much less cost. There was talk of doing that , but somehow that faded away many years ago.

    Loudoun will grow over the next many years and will have a mini tysons grow up around the greenway, and to be able to have rail here before it gets out of control like tysons is a good thing. A plus will be, the business that ends up here along the tranit stops will pay far more taxes ,then greenvest will, when you take in account how much those 28,000 homes are going to cost all tax payers in the long run.

    Lee
  11. jim

    jim Member

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    The metro extentsion should not be built at all. If mass transit is the need, more buses are the answer.

    I recently had to go into D.C. for a couple of days and rode the bus from the Herndon Park & Ride to West Falls Church. It worked very well. The buses left every ~5 minutes. It was a quick ride to West Falls Church and only cost $1! I would have considered using the Loudoun County buses from near 606, but looking at the ridership count (it is very high), it was questionable whether I would have to wait for a later bus.

    Buses can be put on the road today - no waiting until 2015. Hey, if they get a lot of riders - let's consider an "upgrade" to a train. Test the system out - does it work? Is the route the best? What are they waiting for? Buses cost less money and can use the HOV or Dulles Access Rd. lanes. No, they are not as sexy as Metro. But, let me tell you, the Metro leg of my trip to D.C. was not so great: 1) of the four trains I was on over two days, 2 were very hot (not hot as in "Tom Cruise hot" (sorry wrong thread) - no A/C hot), 2) I stood - no seats. I was greatful for the bus and especially for my car (the Camry's A/C can crank!).

    This brings me to my next point, ridership and funding. As stated above, Metro will not serve that many commuters. Most people who commute east do not work within walking distance of the proposed stops. As such, ridership will not be great enough to support the op costs. How will planners and politicians give the incentive for greater use and subsidize the costs? You guessed it - higher tolls. "You will use it or you will pay!"

    I love the speculation and the grand visions espoused for the future and the plans on how to get there put forth by folks who don't do the commute every frickin' day.

    -Jim
  12. kholbert

    kholbert Member

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    http://www.seattletunnel.org/

    When I lived in Seattle during the late 80's they passed up Federal funding for light rail in favor of beefing up their already good bus system. They built an electric bus tunnel under downtown with stations every few blocks. With an eye to a future light rail system, they imbedded rails into the floor of tunnel. Today, a quarter century later, Seattle is retrofitting the tunnel to for their new light rail system due in 2009. So Seattle is a prime example of how mass transit via dedicated rights of way can be executed in a phased approach (first busses then rail).

    Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been proposed for the Dulles Access Road median complete with stations. These proposals were dismissed due to several reasons including that NOVA commuters don't consider busses "sexy" or "upscale" and thus wont use them. To the contrary, Loudoun County Bus can't meet demand for routes, frequency and stops. Bus then rail is a viable, cost effective, flexible option for Tysons/Reston/Dulles/east Loudoun commuters.

    http://www.dullescorridorrail.com/newsletters/nl0306.html

    Only problem with any form of mass transit along the Dulles Access Road median is that it wont be as profitable as a route through Tysons for Tysons property owners who are pushing for the asthetically-pleasing tunnel currently proposed. I wouldnt be surprised if the money spent to date on rail engineering throught Tysons could have paid for a dedicated bus right of way to Tysons. Complete with a station at Spring Hill road where the existing transit transfer center is located.
  13. sharse

    sharse TeamDonzi rocks!!

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    That's one of the best things about Marta in Atlanta. It serves the airport, then up to downtown, then up to Buckhead, a major employment/entertainment/residential district. But now that I think about it, they still have HORRIFIC traffic there. Why hasn't MARTA helped?
  14. sharse

    sharse TeamDonzi rocks!!

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    kholbert -- I was born and raised in Seattle until I moved away in 1998. I worked downtown, rode the bus (and sat in traffic on I-5 on the ship canal bridge more times than I care to count) but still my memory is fuzzy. Isn't the tunnel only through downtown along 3rd avenue? Its not a very long stretch. And I remember that light rail came up for a vote, and while I voted FOR it, I remember I was in the minority and most voted against it. They yapped about how we already had the monorail. Right. Like anyone really rides THAT.

    Anyway... I'm wandering off on a tanget, I fear. Perhaps what you're suggesting is a "Seattle like" bus tunnel in the Tyson's area to which rail could be connected eventually?

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