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Residents weigh in on accessing Tysons Corner Metro stations

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The opening of four Metrorail stations in Tysons Corner is only a couple years away, and Fairfax County officials are still grappling with how to connect thousands of nearby residents to the stops.

When they open, in about two years, none of the stations will have parking, in line with the county’s long-term goals to discourage driving and redevelop Tysons into a transit-oriented city. Instead, Fairfax officials have outlined other links, such as bicycle paths, sidewalks and bus routes to serve nearby communities.

But it is still unclear how Fairfax will pay for the connections and how many will be in place by the time the new Metro extension is running.

The public’s priorities, however, appear to be clear, at least based on a survey of more than 1,800 people — mostly Tysons area residents — on how best to access the stations.

Results from the survey, which was conducted online and during four public meetings in the spring, were released Tuesday. About 86 percent of participants said they would use one of the Tysons Metro stations and said they planned to walk, bike or take the bus to a stop.

The four Tysons stations are part of Metro’s extension to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County, with routes 7 and 123 getting two stops each.

Many streets leading in and out of Tysons lack complete sidewalks, and there are few crosswalks, the result of decades of sprawling development. Survey respondents said they want to see more crosswalks and sidewalks on routes 7 and 123 and along collector roads leading to the stations.

Some residents have expressed frustration with living close to the future Metro stations but being unable to reach them on foot.

“It might as well be 30 miles [away] if you can’t get there,” said Jay Volkert, who lives in a Vienna neighborhood that is about a mile from one of the planned stops.

More than half of those surveyed said they live or work near the planned bicycle routes in Tysons and stressed the need for dedicated bike lanes.

In comments collected during the survey, respondents also said they want frequent and reliable bus service to ferry them between the Metro stations and their neighborhoods in McLean, Vienna and Falls Church.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will consider the survey results when it decides which projects will get funding.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is paying for some improvements, such as a new sidewalk segment on Route 123. The agency controls the vast majority of Fairfax County’s roads. But many other neighborhood connections are part of an estimated $1.7 billion in transportation upgrades needed in Tysons through 2030.

The board has yet to adopt a financing plan on how to pay for those improvements. Supervisor John W. Foust (D-Dranesville), however, noted that some revenue from a countywide business tax could go toward initial pedestrian improvements.

Even if the connections are built, it is still possible that some Tysons area residents will have to rely on their cars.

Many neighborhoods in McLean are spread out and built on large lots, making them less likely to be served by future bus routes.

“There are huge areas where I don’t think we’ll have a bus service,” said Foust, whose district includes McLean.

For now, the county is reaching out to Tysons landowners to provide temporary parking near the four stations.

Darren Ewing, who lives in the McLean area and took the survey, expressed concern that many of the neighborhood connecting paths will not be ready in time for the opening of Metro in Tysons.

“If they don’t get into the habit right away of walking to Metro, they will get back to their old habits,” Ewing said.

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