Arlington Braces for Wild Ride

By Michael Laris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 7, 2008

The announcement of a March start date for building Metro's Silver Line from just west of the Arlington County border through Tysons Corner was, in part, wishful thinking. The federal government hasn't given the final go-ahead for the project -- or the bulk of the crucial $900 million that would come with it.

But while talks among local, state and federal officials continue, ditch-diggers are tearing up access roads in Tysons Corner and transportation planners in Arlington are preparing for what is planned on the county's western flank.

After decades of talk, dirt is moving and officials in Northern Virginia are starting to coordinate what will be a vast construction zone through some of the most congested parts of the state.

Late last month, engineers gathered in a swath of weedy grass where Interstate 66, Metro's Orange Line and the Dulles access road connect. The area is between the East and West Falls Church Metro stations in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

The engineers were scoping out how they plan to connect the cement sections of a bridge that would carry the track, which would peel off from the main Orange Line in that area and stretch toward Tysons.

Days later, project planners took drawings of the planned Metro stops to neighborhood groups.

And last week, a few miles west of where the Silver Line would start its path toward Dulles International Airport, Paul Goguen peered into a 15-foot-deep trench beside Route 7.

Goguen is the utilities manager for Dulles Transit Partners, which has the contract to build the new line. He is responsible for moving the fiber-optic cables and utility lines that cut through Tysons Corner, one of the state's most important business centers.

Workers tethered to a cable pounded in a steel brace holding up temporary wooden walls in the 4-foot-wide ditch. PVC tubes will be dropped in, covered with cement and linked to a new network of manholes, where other crews will install the relocated lines using tuggers and winches.

The tubes will also hold the power source for the new Metro line.

The utilities are being moved to make way for a new path for Route 7 through part of Tysons. Metro stations are planned for the middle of the commuter thoroughfare, and new lanes will also have to be built around a planned work area in the center of the road. Later, a longer stretch of the road is to be permanently shifted.

"Our schedule says we have to take down the poles before we move the road before we build the station," Goguen said.

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