Dr. Gridlock

Readers as planners: where to put Dulles Metro stations

A rendering of the mezzanine at the new Tysons East Metro station on the Silver Line in Tysons Corner.
A rendering of the mezzanine at the new Tysons East Metro station on the Silver Line in Tysons Corner. (Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project)
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By Robert Thomson
Thursday, June 17, 2010

After playing retroactive planner for the station locations on the Dulles Metrorail line [Dr. Gridlock, June 6], I invited readers of my blog to engage in the same academic exercise and say where they would put stations and how they'd want them to function. I don't think we're likely to revisit the well-advanced plans for the Dulles line, but I'm optimistic that the Washington region will build more transitways and that the underlying issues about routes and stations will come up again.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The Tysons Corner stations are very logical.

One is at Tysons East, northeast of the Beltway. One is between the Tysons I and II shopping centers on Route 123. A third is at Route 7 and Westpark Drive between strip malls and office buildings. Auto sales will go away. The land is now too valuable for auto sales. The fourth station is on Route 7 at Spring Hill and Tyco roads near the Sheraton hotel.

Wiehle Avenue is the first Reston station because Hunter Mill Road is not zoned right for a station and a virile civic group wants to keep it that way. The 2,300-space garage is vital to get riders.

People with two cars in the garage just will not use shuttle buses to the station. They will either drive all the way or park and ride. [People of modest means] such as me would use the bus. We have buses, but as Vienna and Franconia-Springfield stations have shown, ridership is very weak.

The federal government demanded the Wiehle Avenue temporary terminal. It hoped the second half of the project would go away, but that won't happen.

Reston Town Center will have a station, but it will be in the Dulles Toll Road median. A 3/8 -mile walk, which is the limit for rail, will get commuters to Reston Town Square, but a bus will be needed north of there. There is a helpful boost from this station location, as there are big office buildings on the south side of it that would be too far from the station if it were in the Town Center [on the north side].

No one wanted the station in the Town Center, but a few transit advocates wanted to use the bike trail for rail. The bike trail is a regional park. You cannot have it.

The next station is Herndon, with a parking garage that will send shuttle buses to Wiehle Avenue until Phase 2 is done.

Herndon will need feeder buses, as not too much is within 3/8 mile other than the parking already there, and it fills up with West Falls Church Metrorail riders using a shuttle bus even now.

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