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Tysons traffic bound to be one big tie-up

By Robert Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 9, 2010; C02

Two weeks ago, we showed you the north-south line of traffic delays being created by the Capital Beltway HOT lanes project. Last week, we showed you the east-west line of delays pending as part of the Metrorail extension. The two lines meet in Tysons Corner, where 100,000 people work and many thousands more shop.

Commuters may not know which concrete pier is for what project. But they do know that lanes, ramps and sometimes roads are closing all around them. Planners are predicting that many of these drivers will find delays of 10 to 20 minutes -- or sometimes longer -- in 2010.

Ground zero

The toughest spot will probably be the area where the Beltway and Route 123 intersect.

A right lane on Route 123 south will remain closed for two years. The ramp from Route 123 north to the inner loop will close. A temporary traffic signal on Route 123 will allow those inner-loop-bound drivers to make a left turn. Outer loop traffic will shift to the first of two new bridges over Route 123 and an old bridge will be demolished over a weekend. The left lanes on Route 123 under the Beltway will remain closed for up to two years. And the Westpark Bridge is being widened.

As the year advances, the delays there will get worse.

To the east, drivers will be distracted by a giant construction truss assembling pieces of the railroad. To the west, on Route 7, the service roads will close, the lanes shift and the mid-block turns will close. To the south, Route 7 westbound traffic will shift to a new bridge and eastbound traffic will shift to the old westbound bridge while the old eastbound bridge is demolished.

All you really need to remember is this: There's no escape.

What can

you do

The Virginia Department of Transportation and its Megaprojects office have been working with employers and Northern Virginia governments to ease some of the pain.

-- Tysons Express/Prince William: Fifty-five-seat coaches make four morning and four evening trips each weekday between Woodbridge and Tysons. The buses have individual lighting and free Wi-Fi. Half-price fares until early July: $2.40 per ride with SmarTrip or $3 with cash. Go to http://PRTCtransit.org or call 703-730-6664.

-- Tysons Express/Loudoun: Starting June 21, the Loudoun version of the express will provide seven morning and seven afternoon trips between Leesburg and Broadlands South and Tysons. Fares will be $3 per ride with SmarTrip or $3.50 per ride cash. For more information, e-mail rideshare@loudoun.gov or call 703-771-5665.

-- Tysons Connector: Two shuttle bus routes operate every 10 minutes around Tysons between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. weekdays. Go to http://fairfaxconnector.com or call 703-339-7200.

-- Metrobus/Fairfax Connector: There are plenty of regular bus routes throughout Tysons Corner, including Fairfax Connector routes 401, 425, 427 and 574 and Metrobus routes 2C, 2T, 3T, 5A, 15K, 15L, 15M, 23A, 23C, 24T, 28A, 28B and 28T. Connections to other regional transit routes are available at the West Falls Church Metro station and the Tysons Westpark Transit Station. Go to http://wmata.com or http://fairfaxcounty.gov/connector.

-- VanStart Program: A Megaprojects program helps get vanpools on the road while drivers recruit passengers to fill vacant sets. The program provides financial assistance to cover the expense of the vacant seats on new vanpools for up to a year. Available only while funds last. E-mail employersolutions@vamegaprojects.com or call 877-959-5222.

-- Employer Solutions Team: This office works with individual employers on transportation solutions tailored to their employees, including various financial incentives to get commuters out of their cars. Contact Janice Fortunato at 571-263-9209 or Marques Silva at 571-337-3115 or go to http://vamegaprojects.com/employer-solutions.

-- Telework!VA: This program offers advice on arrangements and financial subsidies that make it easier for employees to work from home or from telework centers. Call 866-469-1010 or visit http://teleworkva.org.

-- Commuter Connections: This network of commuter assistance programs for employers and employees encourages carpooling and vanpooling. Call 800-745-RIDE or go to http://commuterconnections.org.

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