News and notes from Reston (tm).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Welcome to the Silver Line Era: Same as the Old Era

It so happens that at the very moment that the first Silver Line train chugged out of the Wiehle-Reston East Station this afternoon, we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95, returning from one of our rare unsupervised trips beyond Reston's earth-toned boundaries. The clogged traffic and endless semi-suburban sprawl around us was an apt reminder that for all the challenges and problems to come, a real investment decades in the making has finally come to fruition, and with it, a new era will begin for Reston.

10574531 10152529355123911 5257995309800865282 nBut in many ways, that's not exactly true. More dense, atypical suburban living has been part of the Reston plan from the very beginning. Even though discussions about what ultimately became the Silver Line began the same year Reston was founded, there were already high-rises, the nation's first townhouses not actually in towns, and lots of planning talk about "sinews" and "blobs".

Bob Simon, now a century old, was present at today's opening ceremonies. He got to witness a significant part of his original dream a half-century ago come true.

SimonSo in a way, the Silver Line is actually a promise kept, a reminder of what seems like a long-ago notion that long-term investments in our communities are what a healthy and prosperous culture can and should do.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx put it nicely:
“What I’m reminded of is that the work of transportation is really the work of generations,” Foxx said. “And if we’re not putting those cornerstones in place as a nation, we’re not building for the generations to come afterward. So this is a time to celebrate the voices of ‘yes’ sounding louder than the voices of ‘no.’ ”
Barely warmed leftovers from the Great Society era? Okay, fine. But that era spawned Reston, and we've seen the alternative -- unsustainable exurban sprawl -- and that alternative almost ate the Silver Line whole.

There have been--and almost certainly will continue to be--poor planning decisions, questionable levels of preparation, and some breathtakingly big bumps in the road to come. We will need to protect our existing neighborhoods from inappropriate development. We will need to hold county officials' feet to the fire to make sure the infrastructure needed to support this $2.6 billion chunk of infrastructure actually gets built. And we'll need to make sure that Wiehle Avenue doesn't get as clogged as I-95 on weekends, and maintain some skepticism about how all of this will be paid for (spoiler alert: lots of quarters). But this is a big deal, as much as a moment to celebrate as Reston's 50th anniversary. And it's bringing Reston a bit closer to the promise it's always had.

But of course, there was this:

Screen Shot 2014 07 26 at 6 16 38 PM
And this:

Screen Shot 2014 07 26 at 6 21 40 PM
Workers try to get a jammed door to open shortly before the opening ceremony.

And this:

Screen Shot 2014 07 26 at 6 19 41 PM
Come on, WMATA, don't let us down!

Also, has our house doubled in value yet?


  1. Sadly, I just checked Zillow, and my palatial 1970s rambler hasn't doubled in value yet. So much for spending the rest of the summer in Corfu.

  2. Congratulations!

    The gray line may be newish, but the trains ain't. Loud, bumpy, hot, dirty, no leg room at the seats for anyone over 5' 10". There is an extremely deafening wheel squeal at the overpass turns at Tyson's and McLean. The PA system is from hell with a good dose of positive feedback since the turn squeal didn't last long enough. The electronic signs would freeze and show the station name three stations ago. The train did hit 60 mph... once. The rest of the time the cars on I-66/DTR were whizzing by.

    World class!

    Oh, and with half-full trains the turnstile point at the Reston station and the garage elevators still became a huge bottleneck. Can only imagine the parking gates when closed. Monday is going to be fun.

    Ok, I do have something positive to say. The trains came on time, all of the escalators and station signs worked, all of the Metro people, probably on an extra long shift, were very courteous and appeared very happy to see us, the way too many of us. They can make all the difference and this weekend they did. Thank you!

  3. Had a relatively easy commute from WRE downtown this morning. It's still early. But the parking garage/kiss and ride/bus depot situation is going to be a nightmare unless they do something about it. There are several traffic lights leading into the garage and buses and cars come from two directions into it. The planning guys blew it on that one.

    1. Planning guys?! The ones with the dart board and beer pong cups?

      If the Wiehle station was just another stop on the line capacity and throughput may have been fine. As the terminus station for the next 5 years and the only one with parking (ok, McLean has some surface lots) we should have a lot of sympathy for the commuter victims.

  4. Big Deal...I did my usual commute today, drove to the Vienna Metro, parked my car and took the Orange Line into Courthouse Sq. I see no reason to change my routine.


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