By Robert Thompson
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The Metrorail project is marching west through Tysons Corner and swinging north onto Route 7, where construction will probably have the greatest effect on drivers. The next six months of work along this one-mile corridor up to the Dulles Toll Road will be "fairly intense," says Howard Menaker, communications manager for Dulles Transit Partners, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's contractor for this phase of the rail project. Here's what travelers will see as they drive through the work zone in the coming months.What will change
-- The service roads along the eastbound and westbound lanes of Route 7 will be closed so the regular travel lanes can be pushed out. The closings, which will come in sections, have begun, starting on the eastbound side between Pike 7 Plaza and the Koons GM dealership. During the phaseout, drivers will be able to reach the businesses along the road, but they should expect to see different entrance routes. People heading for Marshalls, Pier One Imports and the Sports Authority in Tysons Square Shopping Center will enter through the usual spot from Route 7 just west of Wendy's (Marshalls Drive) with one exception: Koons customers should enter the property by southbound Route 123.
-- A retaining wall will be built along the south side of Route 7 to support the new road bed. (The grade is different between the service road and the eastbound travel lanes. That will need to be balanced.) Then the travel lanes will be pushed out, away from the median. The work will eventually occur along both sides of Route 7.
-- Three places along the median where mid-block turns have been allowed will be closed. (The traffic signals at Westwood Center Drive/Tyco Road, Spring Hill Road and Gosnell Road/Westpark Drive will remain and can be used for U-turns.) The median will be widened to accommodate the elevated tracks and the two rail stations. The Tysons Central 7 station will be near SAIC and Marshalls. The Tysons West station will be between Spring Hill and Tyco roads.
Elsewhere on the rail line
Although the effect on Route 7 will be significant, the Metrorail construction to Reston has become visible along most of the route. Preliminary work is underway at all five stations: the two on Route 7, the two on Route 123 and the terminus at Wiehle Avenue.
Along the Dulles Connector Road near Interstate 66, piers and caissons are under construction. They will support a flyover taking the new tracks from the Orange Line to the Connector Road. Pile driving is underway to support new bridges at Idylwood and Magarity roads and at Pimmit Run. Construction trucks are using I-66 inside the Capital Beltway during certain hours. As many as 74 trucks a day will be allowed to use the Lee Highway/Washington Boulevard exit to turn around to go west on I-66.Easing the pain
Two new bus services will help commuters get to work in Tysons Corner and get around the area without their cars during the middle of the day.Tysons Express
The first commuter bus service with a direct route from Woodbridge to Tysons started this month. The fares on the new buses, operated by PRTC's OmniRide and financed by the Virginia government, will be half the normal OmniRide price for six months. Commuters using SmarTrip cards will pay $2.40 a trip, and those using cash will pay $3.Schedule
The buses travel between the Woodbridge VRE station and the Route 123/Interstate 95 commuter lot and stops in Tysons. The four inbound trips will leave between 6:10 and 8:05 a.m., ride the HOV lanes to Franconia-Springfield and then take the Capital Beltway to Route 7. They will stop at the Tysons Corner Transit Center and more than a dozen other points, mostly along Greensboro and Jones Branch drives. The return trips start from the Tysons Corner Transit Center between 4 and 6 p.m.Tysons Connector
The other service launching this month in Tysons is an internal circulator bus. Tysons was built for cars: You can hardly get anywhere without one. The new Connector bus is meant to ease that burden.
The bus, operated by Fairfax County, will offer free midday service around Tysons Corner beginning Nov. 23. Passengers on two routes will be picked up every 10 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays to go to Tysons Corner Center, Tysons Galleria and the major employers nearby.Other transit options
These are the services available to travelers in Tysons:
-- Fairfax Connector routes 401, 425, 427 and 574
-- Metrobus 2C, 2T, 3T, 5A, 15K, 15L, 15M, 23A, 23C, 24T, 28A, 28B ad 28T