Yesterday, the Federal Transit Administration stated that Virginia has another 15-18 months to submit its final plans for the multi-billion dollar Dulles Rail project.
In other words, Virginia officials have a second chance to avoid what could be a catastrophic land use mistake: the building of an elevated rail system through the heart of Tysons Corner. Elevated rail would split Tysons in two, tie up traffic for months (if not years) and doom the efforts to create a friendly mixed-use community.
The “Tysons Tunnel” group www.tysonstunnel.org has been fighting for the last six months to promote the tunnel alternative. Its grass roots efforts have been supported 100% by the West Group, the largest landowner in Tysons. Their shared goal is to create a walk able, friendly environment (think Rosslyn or Clarendon) for workers and residents alike. The tunnel backers have even raised funds for engineering the tunnel alternative.
The odds have looked long. There has been little or no help from Capitol Hill. The Governor has been slow to get involved.
But there is hope…
This fall every candidate in the Tysons area will need to state where they stand on this critical issue. By the time the smoke clears, a new consensus may emerge which will render the old equation obsolete.
As one such candidate, I’ll make my position clear right now: The elevated rail should not be built. Period. The tunnel alternative should be aggressively pursued by a process that uses competitive bidding (unlike the current model) to select the builder. Period.
I hope that other candidates will also take the time to inform the public candidly of their views. There may be no more important issue in the 2007 election season.