Does nobody understand the Dulles Metro Extension?

In the past month, I’ve been spending three to four hours of every day on public transit. I bounce from the Fairfax Connector to the Metrorail system, to the University shuttle. It’s thrilling, let me tell you.

So you can imagine that the proposed “Silver Line” extension that would bring the metrorail to Dulles is of a great deal of importance to me. The bus is the most obnoxious section of my commute, and the proposed Wiehle Avenue stop is so very convenient.

Of course, even though it’s in phase one of the construction, said stop will not be operational until 2012 at the very earliest (I’m betting on 2020 myself). But none of that mattered when the Federal government threatened to completely bury the project by denying it’s funding several months ago. Of course, the news now is different: funding for the planning stages is back on but funding for construction remains under consideration.

Unlike some, I don’t care why the feds reconsidered their decision, I’m just thrilled that they did. This extension is desperatly needed, and anybody who has had to drive through Tyson’s Corner can recognize that. The only road I’ve found that’s worse than Route 7 is 95, and honestly, I don’t think there’s any saving 95.

Route 7 is a horrible mass of traffic, bumper to bumper road rage inducing idiots with SUVs. People at my office don’t really understand that most of the reason that I don’t drive to work isn’t to avoid traffic in the district, it’s to avoid traffic in Tyson’s Corner.

So I’ll be honest, the thing that annoys me most right now is people saying stupid things about the project. People who are saying, “they’ve been trying this for years and it hasn’t happened yet, why are they still trying.” Because there’s still a need.

The people who are saying, “the orange line already has a lot of passengers, we shouldn’t overtax it.” This is very true, I am baffled by how crowded the orange line is every morning. But according to the map I just downloaded on The Dulles Metro website, the Silver Line will be running through Rosslyn, so riders on the Silver Line will be evenly distributed between the orange and blue lines, I think. Personally, I’ll just be on one of the two for a few stops before I get to Metro Center. There will be kinks in the system, yes. There’s plenty of kinks in the orange line right now, but I think that the need far outweighs the challenge.

But this is the thing that bothered me the most, as I read my copy of The Express. In an article about the metro’s funding approval, a blogger is quoted as saying: This project will only bring rail to Reston. For $900 million in Federal money, decades of planning and promises, speculative development based on proposed stations, and repeated harangues from community leaders Loudoun will get exactly nothing from this deal, except perhaps even more traffic.”

Could somebody explain to me, exactly and in detail, how someone would expect to build anything connected to the District out to Loudoun without first going through Reston/Fairfax County? The railway has to serve Tyson’s Corner, and in order to connect Tyson’s with Dulles, going through Reston is only natural. Not to mention the fact that Reston is a bit more populated than people seem to think. Yes, I’m happy that the first phase of the project is bringing the metro to me. Yes, the station on Wiehle is the one I would be utilizing most.

But if the first phase only brought the rail out to Tyson’s Corner, I would STILL be all for it. I would still be cheering it every step of the way because you CAN’T build it to the end without building the middle first. It’s only logical.

I’m also not sure about how this is going to bring more traffic to Loudoun. But I have to remember that the first thing that any resident of Northern Virginia says when they’re in “doom and gloom” mode is that something will increase traffic. It’s their excuse for all of their BANANA behavior.

(For those who don’t obsess about urban planning, BANANA is the extension of the idea of NIMBY, it stands Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything).

When a developer wanted to completely reinvent the Vienna Metro station, and create a hub of Transit Oriented Development, all anybody could think was that it would make more traffic. The entire plan was to create a large section of homes within walking distance to the metro station, where people wouldn’t NEED to own cars, and yet people talked about the traffic. They planned to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, but of course everybody was obsessed with parking spaces.

I’m starting to feel like the only person on the planet whose life does not completely revolve around being a car owner. Yes, I have a car. But I gladly leave it parked at my house five days a week. And if I could, I would gladly donate money towards the Silver Line.

Better public transit is a necessity. The Dulles Extension is a well-imagined, well thought out necessity. People desperately need to start supporting it and helping rather than hurting.

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