News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Road Rules: More Traffic, More Quarters, and 'Great' Falls Gets Its Way, As Usual

This exciting video from the YouTubes captures the sheer excitement of sitting in traffic on Sunset Hills Road while attempting to turn onto Hunter Mill Road and then cross under the Toll Road. There's a point to be made about the design of the intersections and placement of traffic lights, but if watching gridlocked traffic at 5x speed isn't enough to thrill you, just wait until the video shifts to reverse, in 12x speed. Your mind will be blown!

In the meantime, have you noticed that you're paying a quarter more each way for the right to sit in Toll Road traffic and stare at those pylons that will someday bring the Cheesecake Factory Silver Line to Reston? If not, you'll be getting a few nasty $25 surprises in the mail from VDOT sometime really soon. But one intrepid lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require the airport authority to get permission from Fairfax and Loudoun counties before raising rates again. In the meantime, the Toll Road is making what the kids today don't call serious bank for the airports authority, pulling in an estimated $88 million in 2010 -- an increase of 36 percent from the previous year, as only a handful of drivers balked at the earlier round of toll hikes. Money fight!

Of course, all that extra money is going to the awesome Silver Line and its accompanying rad 80s art, which has also just gotten an accelerated infusion of federal funding. Using the feds' projection that the Silver Line will add 10,000 new daily transit riders -- way below original projections -- some snarky columnist pointed out that this works out to $310,000 for each new Metro rider.

Taxpayers would be better off financially giving each of them a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo (MSRP $237,600) or his and hers matching Tesla Roadsters (MSRP $109,000) instead.
Aw hell no, she didn't! Be sure to look for this comment in the upcoming book, A Children's Collection of Transit Funding Snaps, Putdowns, and Practical Bloopers.

And finally, the folks in "Great" Falls who didn't want their pristine McMansions besmirched by smog from Loudoun County cut-through commuters have, not surprisingly, won their many-year battle to prevent VDOT from creating a new turn lane from Rt. 7 to Georgetown Pike. Who knows, maybe they got beloved TV show host Bob Barker to intervene again. Unspecified improvements will still be made on Rt. 7, presumably including an appropriately frightening looking HERE THERE BE DRAGONS sign to keep Loudounites on the straight and narrow and off Georgetown Pike, the end.


  1. If more people were on that Fairfax Connector bus in the first few seconds of this video maybe traffic wouldn't be as bad.

  2. I think they should build a giant slide from RTC to Tysons. It could have bumps and loops along the way. It would make getting to work fun!


  3. If you want to know why that intersection is so bad, look at local history and the name "Thoburn." Not a nice bedtime story for the kiddies.

    1. If you want to know why that intersection is so bad, look at the local history and realize that Thoburn is the only one who has ever fought to fix it, while the HMDL has done everything they can to prevent even basic improvements. HMDL is the bedtime story I'd never want my kids to hear.

  4. Peasant From Less Sought After South RestonJanuary 4, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    A few thoughts on that video.

    I am reminded of the old line that everybody supports public transportation, as in "let everybody else use it so there's less traffic for me when I drive." Wonder if whoever made this video considers himself/herself part of the traffic congestion problem (just as I wonder if Anon 10:59 uses the Fairfax Connector -- more power to him/her if so).

    No doubt traffic in the area has gotten a lot worse. Several years ago, when I regularly took the 553 bus to Reston in p.m. rush, the bus could normally get through the traffic light at the Hunter Mill exit in one or two cycles at most. The past few years, it is often five or six cycles. But of course, as our local planning geniuses like BiCO and politicians like Ms. Hudgins tell us, population growth is good, it's coming, and we can't do anything about it. Well, maybe don't mindlessly rezone to higher densities that existing or even planned infrastructure can support, for a start?

    Speaking of geniuses, if those VDOT engineers who restriped Lawyers Road have some left-over paint, I suggest they paint cross-hatched boxes in all the clogged intersections around the Hunter Mill exit (and elsewhere) that cars must clear before the light turns red. It's the old "don't block the box" strategy that's used in a number of major citiees. A $250 fine for blocking the box might deter the me-first drivers whom we have in abundance here. And if VDOT has a little more money, maybe they can widen from one lane to two that stretch of southbound Hunter Mill from just past the Toll Road underpass to the intersection with Sunrise Valley so that cars can clear that bottleneck more quickly. Shouldn't be too expensive or hard to do.

  5. The toy train will not be at Dulles by 2016, at some point the MWAA PR department's going to have to break the news.

    When Thomas, Annie, Clarabelle pull into the Wiehle Avenue station, we'll be paying what - $6 a trip to Farragut West?


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