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On Metro in Tysons, I Hate to Say “I Told You So” but…

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Not to beat this subject to death, but I must say that reading this article really got me going this morning. The gist of it is this: with Metro construction well underway in Tysons Corner, there is still no good plan to move people efficiently and in a “smart growth” way to and from the Metro stations being built.

When the four stations open in 2013, none will have parking and only the Tysons East and Tysons West stations will have kiss-and-ride drop-offs. Some of the 100,000 people who work in Tysons will ride Metro there, and developers are seeking to add bridges, new doors and plazas connecting stations to their businesses.

But it will take time before the shopping and employment center redevelops into a mixed-use downtown with a mass of residents who can walk to the stations from home. For now, residents of nearby neighborhoods are accustomed to driving, and there are few firm plans for how people will actually access the stations.

Brilliant, eh? Obviously, not. As McLean homeowners association president Andrew Gutowski puts it, a meeting on this subject is taking place “about five years too late,” leaving Tysons Corner with a “lack of planning for a continuous and seamless network of alternate transportation.”

But isn’t this Monday morning quarterbacking, you ask? To paraphrase Condi Rice, could anyone have possibly foreseen this debacle coming? Answer: yes they could, and yes they did!

Among the people raising the alarm back in 2006-2008, when it really mattered, were the folks at TysonsTunnel.org. I’m proud to say that I fought alongside TysonsTunnel.org (Scott Monett et al), as well as tunnel champions like Charlie Hall, Supervisor John Foust, Sen. Chap Petersen, then-Delegate Dave Marsden, Leslie Byrne, the Sierra Club, Vienna Mayor Jane Seeman, the Mantua Citizens Association, and many others.  

As Dave Marsden said at the time, it would be a “tragic mistake” not to do this right, that we “can’t afford to make this mistake.” In addition, as Tysons Tunnel supporters made clear back in 2007-2008, the aerial alternative would be less attractive than a tunnel, less pedestrian friendly, less conducive to smart growth, more expensive (see here for information about how a proposal by Dragados that could have produced far better results at a lower cost wasn’t even considered, due to the power of no-bid, “Big Dig” Bechtel and its supportive politicians), more time consuming, more disruptive, and more risky for the taxpayer. And yet, somehow or other, that’s exactly what we ended up with.

The result? Exactly as we all predicted back in 2007-2008: delays and soaring costs, and, as the Post article explains, an almost complete failure to integrate the Metro stations into a walkable, livable community (key quote: “few firm plans for how people will actually access the stations“).

Earlier today, I forwarded the Post article around to several Tysons Tunnel supporters, and asked them what they thought. Here’s a representative response:

It just sounds like a nightmare…seems like the worst of both worlds:  heavy rail cost with none of the density needed for ridership.

That’s exactly right; this IS “the worst of both worlds.” So why did the “powers that be” push so hard for this debacle? In my view, that’s a clear case of the influence of big money, powerful corporations, enormous egos, and yet another failure by the corporate media to report honestly and accurately on this entire issue. Now, we will all suffer the consequences for years to come. Heckuva job, huh? As I said, “I hate to say I told you so,” but…

  • NotJohnSMosby

    of Metro through Tyson’s was to create a new corridor similar to Ballston-Clarendon.  That is, Metro stops with high rises right on top, not parking garages and such.  I guess the long-term idea is that, after the stops are built, the areas adjacent to the stops will be redeveloped.  So yeah, a couple of those stations will be “stops to nowhere” for a while, until redevelopment really kicks in.

    It’s pretty hard to do both at the same time, since you can’t really build the office towers and apartments without the Metro there first.  

  • Mike1987

    “…When the four stations open in 2013, none will have parking and only the Tysons East and Tysons West stations will have kiss-and-ride drop-offs…”

    That is criminal at best. If you want ridership then you must provide parking. Do you really expect only people within a 100 yards of a metro to use it?

    As I said before, what have we become when we can’t plan for the obvious, then the difficult is impossible.