News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Metro Silver Line = The Big Dig 2: Electric Boogaloo?

PH2007101501531.jpgAfter the nuisance lawsuit and the novelty oversized pig have apparently failed to make the endless sea of orange cones with blinking lights in Tysons and along the Toll Road disappear, opponents of Metro's awsome Silver Line E-ticket ride to where the bland things are in Loudoun County have brought out the big guns: the press release.

A group opposed to toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road stated in a new report that the cost to extend Metro to Dulles will cost about the same as Boston's infamous Big Dig.

The Dulles rail project, financed largely by tolls collected on the toll road, could cost $22 billion within the next 40 years for planning, constructing and financing, according to the press release from Reston-based Dulles Corridor Users Group.

In August, DCUG filed a lawsuit in Washington federal court demanding a $200 million refund be paid to taxpayers, as the group claims the toll road has overcharged users to pay for the Dulles rail project. The suit also demands the toll plazas be removed and the road be operated as a free highway, stated DCUG.
Will the Silver Line really become the Big Dig Deux? Actually, as those who have watched development plans for Reston know, planners are considering the exact opposite. Here's one rendering of what might get built over a buried Toll Road:

As one of our regular commenters says:
This shows a drawing of one possible example of development using air rights over the Dulles Toll Road.
I would like to see much more open space than in this drawing.
There are other drawings I have seen of other configurations over the Toll Rd. One looks like a futuristic hanging gardens of Babylon. It doesn't have to look like 1960s Manhattan.
But they would have to hire someone with vision. And not the local bottom feeders who have been putting buildings up in Reston since they built the library.

Which seems like a perfect opportunity to remind everyone that the kickoff meeting about revisions to the Reston Master Plan is this Tuesday.


  1. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)November 30, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    Once again the opponents of the Silver Line offer NO ALTERNATIVES to reducing congestion in the area. A new rail line will most certainly not be a cure-all, but it is indeed PART of a multi-faceted solution and will take likely take several thousand vehicles per day off of Route 7 and the Toll Road as people who live in Ashburn, Herndon, and Reston and work in Tyson's Corner or the District can eschew their SUVs in favor of riding the rails, reducing their carbon footprints in the process.

    If I'm still living in Reston by the time this line is completed in the year 2876, I will look forward to walking from my apartment to a train station and then from another station to my office building. My car will be one less on Route 7. For that I WOULD be willing to pay higher tolls!

    Tell me almighty anti-rail people, what are YOUR solutions to the area's transportation crisis? Don't say "widen roads" either because Reston needs to be heading TOWARDS pedestrian orientation---not away from it by dissuading more people from walking/biking along even wider and faster roads.

    Am I the only one who has been to Boston before, during, and after the "Big Dig" and sees how much more attractive the city now is with that freeway underground? It would be nice if the entirety of the Toll Road through Reston was paved over as a tunnel so that our fractured community could finally be joined---no more of the senseless North Reston vs. South Reston rantings in our community.

    What is with people in this area demanding the world's best services without wanting to put forth one dime to pay for them? For God's sake I am barely able to survive myself here in our very expensive community, but I SUPPORT the county's plan to tax restaurant meals in order to keep libraries, parks, and schools open and fully-staffed. Paying an extra $0.50 on that next burger I order from Clyde's? No complaints here if that money goes to help a less fortunate child in Annandale to learn the joy of reading or of bird-watching at a park. There's only so much pork to be CUT before you either have to tell people to pony up cash or wave services good-bye. Judging by the amount of BMWs and Audis here it's not like most people in Reston are going to be suffering from a toll increase or a tax levied on a cheesburger anyways.

  2. I would like to see the "futuristic hanging gardens of Babylon" drawing. That sounds awesome.

  3. I have a question for everyone about the Tyson's Metro stops (and the Reston stops, for that matter):

    - Four stops are planned for Tyson's Corner. Looking at the maps ( I see that some of these people working down Westpark Drive will have quite a hike to their offices from the station - if you work at the USA Today building, maybe even a half mile.

    - My concern is that commuters will still opt for their cars. What if people decide "I don't want to walk that last 1/2 mile, I'll just drive to the parking deck instead"?

    - Is there any plan for increased bus service to move people away from the stations? Failing Fairfax Connector service, my thought was that each company could provide their own shuttle service to/from the Metro.

    - How about Reston? I am reading that we're going to have thousands and thousands of new parking spaces to serve Wiehle (or whatever). Presumably, people from the area are going to start driving here to catch the train. Is there any way we can get them to take the bus to the station, instead? That will require new routes to serve the station.

    Anyone know, or can point me in the right direction?

  4. Native- good questions. I live near Wiehle and am quite worried about the effect the new station is going to have on the traffic around here, since most people will be driving to the metro stop. If there has been a study on the affect this will have on the local roads, or a movement to increase local bus service, I haven't seen or heard about it.

  5. Is it true that BO is going to force us to use the metro or be taxed if we do not abide?

  6. The county is going to run circulator buses in the Tysons Corner. There's going to be a more extensive grid pattern of streets paralleling Leesburg Pike. A lot of the parking lots fronting Leesburg Pike will go away and bring more offices closer to stations along the road.

  7. Nightmare...This is going to be a nightmare for the next 5-8 years and I am not sure how much it will ease traffic on the Dulles Toll Road.

    Don't get me wrong it will help but there are some other things that need to take place:

    1) more companies need to move out to the Dulles area

    2) The state should consider building another beltway west of 495 (Western VA and MD)TO HELP TRAFFIC CONGESTION

    3) Get Obama out of office...

  8. Hickory Cluster Knuckle DusterNovember 30, 2009 at 5:16 PM

    Anon 4:30
    #3 is going to help congestion how?

    Boil up a cuppa Lipton's and go crazy with the Bachmann Beck Overdrive coo-coo train.

  9. Cutting back spending on Pentagon and Homeland Security would alleviate traffic some. It's too bad much of Bush's budget couldn't be pared back in 2004-2008 to prepare for the next downturn in the economy when deficit spending might be needed again. The economy is now hopelessly addicted to boosts from tax cuts and spending as well as monetary stimuli to keep it from crashing.

  10. People, people, again, you guys worry to much, Fairfax County thought of the congestion problems that are going to come up in the future and they probably REALIZE that in the 10 to 20 years from now, we are all going to be FLYING to work.

    So calm down, there is probably not going to be any problems. In fact, we are all just wasting our money.

  11. Um..BiCo...if you're still living here in 2876? How about living at all? Or was that on purpose to show how long this project may take?

    And if we don't have North vs. South to rant about, what will we discuss?

    And for all of you, will the hanging gardens be required to use all Reston DRB approved species?

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Oh geez! We've been spammed!!! Leave now Tony, keep Restonian free from this infestation.

  14. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 1, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    All I really ask is that the people from Reston, Herndon, and Loudoun County who are pounding their chests in opposition to the Silver Line provide me with alternative suggestions to solving our transportation crisis. I live seven miles from my office. This morning that commute took me nearly 40 minutes. The people who are opposing the Silver Line are merely obstructionists in my mind. If you all had SOME alternative---perhaps even not a better one---I'd give you more credence and lend a sympathetic ear simply for trying. However, if the mantra is "oppose rail because it will Arlingtonize/Bethesdafy Reston" WITHOUT saying how YOU would address the congestion that is expected to worsen in the coming years, making Fairfax County an undesirable place to live in the process, then I can't really take anything you say seriously. It just sounds like you're all being contrary for the sake of being contrary.

    Whether some of you suburban-minded people like it or not "widen the roads" is NOT the answer! L.A. has some very wide freeways, all of which are congested. New York City has 8.5 million people in a quad-state metropolitan area of 20 million, a freeway system that is no wider than our own, and yet we have WORSE traffic congestion than they do. Why is that? Our mass transit options are just so horrible in comparison. For example, I can't take a bus from Reston to the West Falls Metro station to get into the District to meet up with friends for nightlife because the last bus back to Reston from the station stops running rather early (which means I'd have to leave the District even EARLIER to make sure the train got me back to West Falls Church before the last bus to Reston departed, and what 23-year-old wants to leave the District at 10 PM on a Friday night?) As a result I drive and add my car onto the road.

    Now that we have a Republican governor coming into office whose only priority is to not raise taxes I don't foresee how this region's transportation mess will EVER be solved, as there won't be enough revenue to pay for any improvements. More rail, more dense mixed-use and transit-oriented developments throughout the region (yes, including in Reston where tons of land is currently wasted on surface parking), dedicated bus lanes, better bus scheduling, carpooling incentives, free shuttles paid by employers to ferry employees to and from transit stations, etc., etc. are all parts of the long-term solution. Why live in the most populous county in the Commonwealth in one of the nation's most powerful metropolitan areas and try to preserve a failed suburban planning model when you could start planning BETTER to accommodate the massive influx of new residents on the way without compromising our quality-of-life? The way some of you people talk you'd think a bulldozer was on its way to slaughter your children and tear down Shadowood to make way for a 20-story condo tower anchored by an Ikea and a Starbuck's where guys wearing scarfs and sunglasses would sit with their pinkies out on their laptops. I hope the people at tonight's meeting aren't all "rabble, rabble, rabble" in an ill-informed panic and actually sit and listen to what will be presented. I still remember the eye-rolling, stares, fidgeting, etc. some speakers elicited at the land use college session I attended, and that is precisely why I'm worried that if I go tonight we'll be subjected to the same childlish antics from supposedly "educated" adults.

  15. Tony looks like he's that telemarketing kind of guy whose voice is heard telling you that your auto warranty has expired.

    Watch it, Tony, or we'll sic BiCO on you!

  16. you need to scale back your post...wayyy to long and drawn out.

  17. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 1, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    When I post one paragraph replies the Devil's Advocates or instigators come out of the woodwork and try to imply that I "missed" something or didn't consider some facet of something. Being verbose helps me to cover my bases.

  18. South Reston Douche NozzleDecember 1, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    i agree..too long!!

  19. The Convict in the GulagDecember 1, 2009 at 10:10 AM

    Okay, BiCO, what's the difference. I work downtown and it takes me 75 minutes each way by bus and train. From my vantage point, your whining and complaining about a 40 minute commute, even if it is 1/3 the distance is specious.

    When it comes down to it, adding more transit to our area is only going to worsen our traffic. El Loco LoCo's already drive to our Park and Ride facilities. Once a single leg transit option (double leg, if you count the drive) arises in Reston, more of El Loco LoCo's are going to be driving to Reston, at least until their stops are added to the line, which is not certain at all.

    Then there's the whole "Field of Dreams" effect. Once you put in extra transit capacity, whether it be trains, planes or automobiles, there will be a greater demand for housing in the areas surrounding the transit. Where do you think those homes will be going? Undeveloped property is easier to develop than already developed property, that much is certain. So where's the biggest stock of undeveloped property in the region? Over there with El Loco LoCo's. So, how will they be getting to the Reston Metro stations? I can guarantee you that most of them will not be taking the bus.

    Well, that's a pretty bold statement. Why won't they be taking the bus? For the same reason that you don't take the bus to work now: it doesn't cost that much to stay in your car and it's more convenient. You said it yourself. Your trip to/from work would be about 75 minutes, which is very similar to my own commute, and would cost even less than mine. Plus, being in CO, you have easy access to the bus, yet you shun it for your car.

    Don't delude yourself. Just because more people around here will have better access to mass transit, that doesn't mean that they will avail themselves of it. Most Americans aren't motivated by altruisms like saving the environment, conserving natural resources or freedom from foreign oil. For most people these are platitudes that make them feel good, but not worthy of the real sacrifice needed to ensure our futures and our children's future.

    No, BiCO, most people are motivated by money and convenience. Until it becomes so cost prohibitive to operate a car and only marginally more convenient to use their car than to use the bus or train, we will remain a culture tied to our cars. Sad, BiCO, but true.

    So, BiCO, it's specious to say that mass transit would Arlingtonize Reston. It will. For you that's not a bad thing. For me, I'll wait and see. For others, who care more about their tract mansion on their quarter acre plots and who can easily afford to fill the tank of the Denali even when gas is $4/gal.

    I tell you what, though, BiCO. Give up your car for the bus to Tyson's. The discomfiture that you experience in your lifestyle change should give you an idea of what other people will be going through just to switch to a 2 minute walk to the bus stop on a fixed schedule versus a 15 second walk to the car when the urge strikes them.

    (BTW, I'm with you, BiCO, on the need for mass transit and the need to reduce our dependence on autos.)

  20. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 1, 2009 at 12:33 PM

    I posted this analysis several weeks ago, but I'll post it again just to illustrate that it would be more than just a "minor inconvenience" for someone like me to commute via bus.

    Let's assume I go into work for 6 AM to avoid the congestion on Route 7.

    -Wake-up at 5 AM
    -Leave home at 5:40 AM
    -Arrive at work for 6 AM

    -Leave work at 2:30 PM
    -Arrive home at 2:50 PM


    -Wake up at 4:15 AM (Ouch!)
    -Leave apartment to walk to transit center at 4:55 AM.
    -Get on Bus at 5:10 AM
    -Arrive in Tyson's at 5:42 AM
    -Arrive at work at 6 AM

    -Leave work to walk to transit center in Tyson's at 2:30 PM
    -Board bus at 3:02 PM
    -Arrive Reston Town Center at 4 PM
    -Walk home for 4:15 PM

    TOTAL ROUND-TRIP COMMUTE: 2 Hours, 50 Minutes

    Before trying to hint that I might be one of those dreaded "do as I say; not as I do" types explain to me how many lucid people would voluntarily wish to add 2 hours and 10 minutes onto their daily round-trip commutes just to prove a point? Also, what would I do on those days when I come into the office and find out I'll be working at a different site that day? Take a taxi at my own expense?

    This area should have been planned much better years ago so that we wouldn't be in such a dire situation today.

  21. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 1, 2009 at 1:44 PM

    Also, 40 minutes to travel a distance of 7 miles equates to an average speed of 10.5 miles per hour or taking around 6 minutes to go 1 mile. I'm sure a Metrorail train travels much more quickly than that. We have the nation's second-worst gridlock and one of the nation's longest commute times. While it might take most people in other areas 10 minutes to go 7 miles, it takes me 30 minutes longer here (an hour longer each day). In this sense I spend an extra five hours each week just sitting in traffic wasting fuel and time---time that you can never get back. Think about that the next time you are stuck in traffic. What else could you have done over the course of your life if you had all those hours back?

  22. BiCO, I think the real question is, is the metro actually going to decrease commute times for most people? Or is it going to make things worse by increasing the amount of traffic in and out of Reston during rush hour? Has this even been STUDIED? Your commute time might be better, but we need to look at the needs of the entire community, not just the people who are commuting to tyson's corner.

    I'm not opposed to the metro. However, I think before spending gobs of money on it we ought to figure out if it's actually going to make the traffic issues better. I want to see actual NUMBERS, based on an actual study, not just theory.

  23. The Convict in the GulagDecember 1, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    Doesn't matter to me. I spend my time on the bus/train either reading or napping or doing email or making telephone calls. Sure, I would like to have that time at home, but I chose to work downtown and a long commute with limited transportation alternatives is a consequence of that decision.

    Regarding our commutes, the distance is almost irrelevant. The important attribute of our commutes isn't the amount of ground covered but the amount of time spent traveling from home to work. Your travel time is not all that different from mine from door-to-door. The only difference is that it's significantly less inconvenient for you to use your car in spite of the fact that you're just ONE PERSON IN ONE VEHICLE, which is what's mostly clogging up our roads. Hopefully, you own something fuel efficient and not an Escalade.

    Like I said, until it either becomes prohibitively expensive or prohibitively inconvenient to use a car, very few are willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to get by on mass transit. Most will not do so for altruistic reasons, you included. They will wait either until the inconvenience is thrust upon them or the realization that this inconvenience is imminent. Until then, sacrifice is something that others do for their convenience.

    BTW, if you were to park a bike at the Tyson's central station, you could probably save yourself at least 15 minutes each way between work and bus. That's how the Dutch deal with living and working on the fringes of the city/town away from the train station. Or maybe get a moped, which would reduce that to all of 5 minutes.

    Last but not least, BiCO, do you walk to the grocery store and to do your other errands on the weekends? Or are they too inconvenient to the local bus lines as well?

  24. I commute downtown by taking a bus to Farragut West station to catch a train. The commute is about an hour each way, non-rush. I choose this method, even though I have a car and could drive, because my sanity suffers less doing so.

    I, for one, am very much looking forward to the Silver Line coming to Reston, and really love the idea of the train connecting the city to the Dulles corridor in general. To me it just makes sense. It is also likely to increase my home's value, which is fine with me.

    I am realistic, however, and realize that the increased development that is bound to come with a new rail may have adverse consequences, but there is no free lunch.

  25. Hickory Cluster knuckle dusterDecember 1, 2009 at 5:13 PM

    I am looking forward to the Silver line as well. But bringing the silver line does not have to equate to turning Reston into Arlington.

    Le Pigeon, which bus do you take to get to Farragut west?

    I take the bus to West Falls Church. I think a bus straight into DC might be more relaxing.

  26. Yes, please let me know of a bus that goes straight into DC from Reston.

    I'm very much looking forward to the Silver Line. Since I am not blind to reality, I fully expect to make the 1 mile bike ride to Whiele instead of messing with that expected traffic nightmare.

  27. BiCO stop whinnying so much, the comments you write are so long I don’t read them anymore. All they are complains over the same thing, crying a river over your commute and support of urbanization (I also support that). People wont change their opinion overnight or because you write something.

    Convict I still don’t know what you support anti-density or anti-metro or the other way around.

    Instead of arguing, we all should comment in improving the Fairfax county or Reston plan. My suggestion is since Reston or Fairfax County are brand new cities, we should study older cities around the world including the US. At one point, they had the same problems.

    I would love to see Reston became like Munich, Germany. In my opinion they have the best transportation system in the world and Beerfest. I can say this because I used to live there for a short time. Munich has everything subway, buses, rail trains, trolleys, regular trains, and the subway is connected to their brand new international airport. Remember, everything in Munich is brand new; they went through World War II and communist in the eastern bloc.

  28. Oops, I misspoke. I make that mistake all the time. Not Farragut West. West Falls Church. The train then takes me to Farragut West.

  29. Watch out folks -- there was a moment there where I thought you were going to be helpful to one another! Oh rats, it was W Falls Church, not Farragut West.

    But still - perhaps that's one of the viable options transportation people should be reviewing. Are there enough people in Reston willing to ride a bus all the way downtown to support launching it from here?

    I love it when people on a blog start working towards solving problems, but I acknowledge that sometimes we need to hash them out and try to see other people's viewpoints. We don't have to agree, but we should be positive about everyone having the opportunity to comment constructively.

    I think I've gone way over the twitter limit, so I'll stop now.

  30. The Convict in the GulagDecember 1, 2009 at 7:57 PM

    Actually, I'm definitely pro-alternative transportation, which makes me pro-Metro. I try to shun my car as much as possible but, alas, it still owns a large part of my soul.

    I'm a realist about density: I don't like but it comes with the improved road capacities. If it were up to me, I'd flatten all of Reston and let it go back to forest. However, if we have to compromise, I'll settle just for flattening Winterthur. That would be a great place to put in a $100m rec center.

  31. Munich: cold, nasty, impersonal stone city.

    Reston: as close to paradise as you can get east of Santa Barbara.

  32. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO)December 2, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    An additional 2 hours and 10 minutes each day to commute car-free is more than just an "inconvenience." Yes, I DO walk to as many amenities as possible in Reston. One reason I chose Charter Oak was due to its proximity to Lake Anne, Reston Town Center, the transit station, and Spectrum Center. I asked for a grocery caddy for Christmas so I could viably walk back-and-forth to the Northpoint Giant to do my shopping (I boycott the much closer Harris-Teeter after how rudely I was treated there when I first moved here). As of right now I do NOT walk/bike/bus back-and-forth between Charter Oak and Giant because I limit my grocery shopping to once per week and usually have too much to carry as one person (typically a gallon of milk, a case of water, and two full reusable shopping bags). I drive a very fuel-efficient car, even though so many others in Reston drive very large SUVs (is the snow really THAT bad here in the winter that you all need four-wheel-drive behemoths?) I routinely run in the Lake Anne/North Shore Drive/Wiehle Avenue areas or on the nearby W&OD Trail.

    Biking around Tyson's? That's funny! I feel very uncomfortable even WALKING around much of Tyson's and crossing the high-speed and very wide roadways (part of the reason I think Reston's roads need to be NARROWED---not widened). I saw someone come very close to being clipped in a crosswalk along Greensboro Drive. I just don't know how anyone would feel safe biking all around Tyson's or the Route 7 corridor.

    I stand by my comments, and if some of you think they're too long, then don't read them. We'll never be Munich in Reston because there are too many people here who refuse to spend money to fix our ailments because it would result in a tax increase. I'd GLADLY tax myself higher to support better transit options that would add precious minutes back onto my life. Money is replaceable---time is not. Unfortunately most other Virginians seem to want their Boston Creme donut without paying for the vanilla pudding filling. We can keep taxes flat and watch as traffic magically WORSENS in the coming years as many more people move here, or we can take one less trip to Starbuck's or the pedicurist now and instead put that money towards transit to make the future NoVA a better place.

    Isn't it amazing that a consortium of businesses have VOLUNTEERED to tax themselves rather substantially to help pay for the new rail line but most people whine about paying a few extra cents on the Toll Road to help do the same? Cities that don't invest in themselves don't get very far. There's a reason why my hometown has been shedding population since 1940.

  33. Convict I agree with you specially the part of flattening Winterthur. If I may make a suggestion, adding Stone Gate Projects to the list, too.
    Heck for $100 million, Reston could build turfs fields and a small stadium in Baron Cameron Park. Reston could have a professional (minor) team in the future someday.

    Anon 9:49
    When I said Munich I meant the city model not the COLD temperature. NASTY was the things that the girls there did to me, and did to them. I enjoy it. Besides, nasty is just an opinion to some, but the city does have a rich historical history. STONY, remember the allies bomb the hell out of them. They still have plenty of rubble.

    And you are right; Reston is paradise that’s why I live here.

  34. The Convict in the GulagDecember 2, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    Darn, Prunie boy. Here I thought you were advocating for an American Beer Hall Putsch.

    BiCO, you make my point. If we don't get Metro, there will be more cars, but most of them will be locals. Even if we do get Metro, there will be more cars. It's just that most of those extra cars will be from out of town. Maybe we could charge the El Loco LoCo's extra to park in our garages.

  35. So I guess I'm going to this thing tomorrow since my fiancee is an urban planner and really wants to check this out...I'm assuming we'll be one of the only young ones there, so say hi! :-)

  36. BICO, as a resident living on North Shore let me help you gain some perspective as you don't even seem to use the current mass transit option. Let alone understand the impact it will have on commutes.

    I ride the bus from N. Shore through Wiehle to West Falls Church where I catch the metro to D.C. daily. My total commute is 1:15 each way (assuming no delays - and we all know how reliable Fairfax Connector and WMATA really are..:)

    Now if you build all your silly stations through Tysons out to Wiehle. Do you think the 15 minute bus ride between Wiehle and West Falls Church (using the airport lanes) will take less time than an additional 3 or 4 stops? I guess you didn't bother to consider that did you.

    Here are several simple suggestions you can't be bothered to consider: Additional bus service using the airport lanes to help relieve the congestion and/or making the HOV lanes 3 people or more only help increase ride-sharing and lessen congestion. Of course it would. You, however, are hoping it will only reduce the number of drivers speeding up your commute. Of course you are wrong about that, as what will all those new residents living in the super monstrosity they plan to build over the Wiehle metro station going to do, yep, add to your traffic and commute (not just during work but all day every day all year long).

    Until the ignorant proponents of this big waste of money and a desire for slower commutes and more traffic can explain why building the metro out to Reston helps benefit long-term Reston residents in any way, I call foul. Your ideas are unoriginal and flawed. Or you are just looking out for yourself. Please reconsider your support for this silly waste of money.