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Interview with John T. Hazel: Dubious on Tysons plans

Developer and lawyer, Til Hazel talks with reporters over lunch at the Towers Club.
Developer and lawyer, Til Hazel talks with reporters over lunch at the Towers Club. (Jeffrey MacMillan - For Washington Post)

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By Jonathan O'Connell
Monday, May 17, 2010

To Til Hazel, you are either "open for business" or you're an "anti" -- as in anti-growth, anti-prosperity. There isn't much in between. As a land-use attorney and later a developer in partnership with Milton Peterson, John Tilghman Hazel Jr., 80, has argued for pro-growth policies in Fairfax County for more than 50 years, leading its march from a spread of dairy farms to a home for more than 1 million residents and 570,000 jobs. Today, Hazel is dissatisfied enough with the region's elected officials that he and Robert E. Buchanan of Buchanan Partners recently launched a new organization, the 2030 Group, to push for policies to benefit long-term economic prosperity.

Capital Business recently interviewed Hazel. Following are excerpts:

You don't seem pleased with the local political leadership.

Well, when you put it all together, what concerns me, 50 years later, we're sort of at a tipping point. We're seeing all these projections. Steve Fuller, in that article ["A place to lay their slippers ... (x 694,000), Capital Business, May 10], is talking about the possibility of 1,600,000 jobs, but to do that you need places for people to live. The political world is totally without leadership, at all levels.

The one thing the Fairfax County Board [of Supervisors] did that I couldn't find a way to defeat was to take all the roads off the [planning] map. They took all the highways off the map in the '70s and they refused to build them. And we had the big shootout over [Interstate] 66, which is now inadequate because the Arlington crowd said, "Who wants to ever go to Fairfax? We don't want all that traffic," not realizing that it would be on Lee Highway and Arlington Boulevard if it wasn't for 66. They defeated a decent 66. It should have been eight lanes instead of four.

What do you think about the Tysons plan?

It's sort of a trivial thing -- the macro thing is how does the region deal with needing two more bridges over the river, how does the region deal with these 1,600,000 people coming in and how do we do it with the 'antis' in control? The region has lived on its good fortunes, the federal government, its empty land, the fact that Fairfax was open for business, and they have lived on that for 50 years. Now there's a tipping point -- I don't think they can live on that any longer.

Will the Tysons Metro stations relieve the need for a wider 66 or more roads?

The thing that I am critical about with Metro is not about building it if they had just said it's for economic development. But they sold it on the theory it was going to have a flow to Dulles airport. The best projections of Dulles airport use is 4 percent of the people going to Dulles will use Metro. They had to sell it as transportation relief with a little sex appeal.

You don't think it will relieve congestion in Tysons or along 66?

No.

Why not?


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