Posts Tagged ‘dulles’

As anyone who has spent any substantial amount of time on the Virginia side of the DC metro area can attest, getting around the city can be a royal pain in the ass.  If you live in DC proper, you can get to most places using the metro system alone.  In fact, considering the ways people drive in DC, taking a car often seems like a death wish.  If you live on the other side of the river, you can generally get by without a car as long as you spend most of your time in the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor.  If you need to go to Shirlington, Tyson’s Corner, or anything on 66, things become difficult.  If you have a car, driving to and from work will almost guaranteed lead you to spend a considerable amount of time sitting in traffic.  And as everyone in the area knows, getting to Dulles Airport can be quite frustrating.

The primary source for the considerable congestion is Virginia politics.  Funding for transportation for the state is controlled by the Virginia Legislature, which is still dominated by representatives hailing from areas south of Northern Virginia (the Virginia side of the DC metro area).  These politicians from “real Virginia” continue to withhold money for transportation projects in Northern Virginia for decades, even though Northern Virginians provide substantially more tax revenue per capita than the rest of the state.  The result is stagnant road and rail maintenance and construction in Northern Virginia, which has seen an absolute population explosion in the last decade or so.  The result is unbearable congestion.

The other problem with expanding the DC metro system is that it exists in a peculiar legal space. The Washington Metro Authority was created with a “compact,” between the states of Virginia and Maryland and the Federal Government.  It is not a state law, but at the same time not a treaty, because it is between the federal government and U.S. states, not foreign sovereign nations.  This construction means that it is difficult to raise adequate funding, because Virginia, Maryland, and Congress have agreed to provide funds for the system.  This has led to chronic arguing and bickering between the three entities, because running a subway system is expensive, and they all believe that the other two entities are not pulling their weight.

The good news is that the fabled “silver line,” which has been in incubation for years, if not decades, has just begun construction.  The line extends from the orange line, which ends in Vienna, and will make it possible to take the metro rail from Dulles all the way to the capitol (estimated ride time: 55 minutes).  The project had been in dire straights as recently as last year, but federal regulators recently approved funding to begin the project, which is expected to clock in at a staggering $5.2 billion for the entire project.  The project won’t be finished until 2013 (let’s hope), but the fact that construction has started is encouraging news.  A map of the project:


Tyson’s corner is expected to receive 4 stations on the line as well, which is critically important for the region.  Tyson’s has 120,000 jobs but only 17,000 residents (according to the Washington Post).  Commuter traffic to and from Tyson’s has reached horrific proportions, so if the silver line can do anything to alleviate the burden, we will see a marked improvement in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Virginians.  Residents and Visitors to the DC area will also benefit from the option of taking a metro rail from Dulles all the way to the center of the city.  A map of the Tyson’s Corner is below:


As a car-less citizen of Northen Virginia (who has to take the metro and transfer to a bus to get to work in Tyson’s every day), the news of the silver line becoming a reality makes me very happy.  Anything that reduces the dependency of cars in American should be considered a welcome development.

More information available at dullesmetro.com.


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