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The Tysons Lunch Bunch

He said VDOT will coordinate the construction work to minimize the impact on the day-to-day business of Tysons. Officials also are looking at church parking lots and extra spaces in strip malls that can serve as satellite parking for workers and shoppers, he said.

"We're going to have to change the culture of Tysons," Nicholson said. "Folks will have to rethink not just their commute, but daily activities in this work zone -- or be very tolerant of the inconvenience."

But changing that culture will be difficult. Tysons workers interviewed recently unanimously mocked the idea of anyone in Tysons walking or waiting for a shuttle bus to go to lunch.

"It's a terrible idea," said Kyle Bergeron, echoing the sentiments of more than a dozen workers interviewed during a recent lunch hour. "We drive a mile at most," he said. "Even with traffic, it's not more than a couple of minutes."

Nicholson said officials haven't "jelled" on a comprehensive solution but realize that the busy holiday season is fast approaching, further complicating matters.

"Are people going to stop going there? No," he said. "But there is going to be a difference, and people will have to adjust . . . teleworking, working different hours. And they're going to have to get on that bus to get to and fro."

A true solution can be elusive in a place where almost everything has to be done by car on just a few streets. And for those who would like to leave their vehicles behind, the prospect of trying to dodge the whizzing traffic on foot can be daunting, even dangerous.

"If there was more transit-oriented development, there would be more pedestrian activity and sandwich shops within walking distance," said Turner, who is also an executive with the WestGroup, one of the major landowners in Tysons. "Then they would just get out of their building and walk. The problem is that Tysons was not developed with urban characteristics."

According to traffic counts provided by VDOT and conducted by Fluor-Lane LLC, the company building the Beltway toll lanes, there were 18,718 vehicles on Route 7 and Route 123 in Tysons during the morning rush between 7 and 9 a.m. during weeklong periods this spring. But there were 23,171 vehicles on those same roads between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. The traffic studies were conducted in March and April.

Although some of those lunchtime drivers were shoppers, most were probably Tysons workers.

On a recent sunny weekday, four young financiers got out of Mike Eisenberg's Acura in the parking lot of the Silver Diner. They took the three-minute drive from their office building, rather than walk.

"We're not willing to risk our lives crossing Route 123," Eisenberg said.

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