News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spineless and Pantless: Your Metro Detractors

Work on moving utilities in Tysons Corner has begun in anticipation of Metro's much-ballyhooed Silver Line to Dulles. Which may or may not happen, of course, because of issues with lawsuits, as-of-yet undelivered federal funding, and concerns about marring the awesome aesthetics of Tysons' exquisite combination of endless traffic, low-rise, big-box Bed-Bath-N-Beyond dreck, and mid-rise office buildings that were the architectural answer to the mirrored sunglasses craze of the mid-1980s.

But to hear folks in Tysons tell it, people are already getting out of "Fairfax County's downtown"(tm) faster than boxes of overpriced Crate-N-Barrel(tm) cutlery during a half-off sale.

It is very likely that the Dulles Metrorail extension, the high-occupancy toll lanes on I-495 and the first phase of the massive new Tysons Corner Center will all be under construction at the same time. With so much happening in a small area already renowned for its congestion, it seems likely that business in Tysons Corner will be affected to some extent.

"If I was a business person, I'd be wondering where are my workers living, how tough is it going to be for them to get here?" said Rob Jackson, president of the McLean Citizens Association, a local civic group.

Jackson and sources active in the Reston and Dulles corridor real estate markets say they believe many Tysons companies will choose to move closer to Washington Dulles International Airport, so as not to lose employees to the heightened congestion. President Scott Monett cited numbers from a regional real estate database firm that show commercial real estate absorption down by about 60,000 square feet in 2007, and a vacancy rate that has risen to over 9 percent.
Well, we've certainly got the space for them 'round these here parts. But we still don't get why these Tysons folks are whining. They put up with a little dust for a year or 7, and then they'll be able to leave their cars behind and just hop on the Metro whenever they want to go to the Pizzeria Uno at Reston Town Center or other, lesser destinations like downtown DC. Right? Well, maybe not.
Tysons Land Use Task Force Chairman Clark Tyler concedes that a sufficient number of commuters won’t use Dulles Rail unless a “circulator” delivers them to four stations at the base of its monstrous elevated tracks. “Metro by itself won’t do it,” Tyler said. But this “circulator” is nothing more than a bus rapid-transit system, which Dulles Rail opponents have been pushing for years as a better, cheaper alternative to heavy rail.

Fairfax Chamber president and Dulles Rail cheerleader Willam Lecos acknowledges that wealthy landowners who plan to cash in on their proximity to the new Metro stations are balking at paying for the circulator, too. He says “a new funding strategy” (i.e. higher taxes) must be found to pay for a secondary transportation system whose main purpose is to entice Tysons workers to use the first.
We'd better keep clapping. On the bright side, if Metro's detractors are successful in derailing the Silver Line, we won't have to worry about things like this.


  1. Today's Washington Post, see the front page no less, says that funding for the Metrorail extension is in serious doubt.
    Whoa Nelly!

  2. Right you are. For once, those anti-big-government Republican appointees are actually acting like... anti-big-government, Republican appointees. Who'dve thunk it?


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