As it emerges from its construction cocoon this year, it will become evident the project is more than steel rails linking Metro’s East Falls Church station with a terminal in the Reston area. This is a whole new transportation system, shaking up the way people get around Northern Virginia.
Project managers say the job is almost 90 percent done. Much of the remaining work focuses on the five new stations: four in Tysons and one in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road and access highway at Wiehle Avenue. The pedestrian bridges have been installed over Routes 123 and 7 and over the toll road.
Project officials say they expect to turn the line over to Metro in late summer so tht transit staffers can do their testing before the line opens.
The Silver Line will have some effect on most other methods of travel in Northern Virginia. Last year, Metro reduced service on the Blue Line to make room for the Silver Line trains that will be heading through Rosslyn into downtown Washington and Maryland, and more changes are coming.
Some commuters who live on the west side of the D.C. region will head for the new parking garage under construction north of the Wiehle Avenue station rather than drive to Orange Line stations such as West Falls Church.
Many others who board buses to the trains will be given different choices, possibly because their old routes have been deemed obsolete.
Throughout Northern Virginia, the plan is to take advantage of the new rail line by adjusting some bus routes, eliminating others, changing the frequency of service and using the surplus buses to enhance other routes.
Fairfax Connector meetings
Nowhere are the bus changes bigger than in Fairfax County, home to all five of the new stations.
The Fairfax Connector conducted a round of public meetings after unveiling its original plan for realigning routes to match them with the new stations.
The staff plans a second round this month to show revisions in the original pattern, which were based on the concerns of some bus riders and some neighborhoods.
For example, some commuters who take express buses to the Pentagon and Crystal City said they didn’t want to give up that one-seat ride for the sake of taking a bus to a train. The revised plan preserves their express bus in the form of Route 599, which would link Reston with the Pentagon and Crystal City, said Ellen Kamilakis, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
The complete bus plan is open for discussion at each meeting, but an emphasis will be placed on service changes in the vicinity of the meeting site.
Fairfax bus discussions
This is the schedule. All discussions except the online chat are from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.