Readers weigh in on Metro's new line to Dulles International Airport

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I foresee nightmarish traffic congestion both during and after construction of the Wiehle Avenue Metrorail station (and, later, the Reston Parkway station) and adjacent development.

Fares on the Silver Line will have to be so high that I'll bet many commuters will still choose to drive; and because of the hassle of lugging heavy bags through stations with non-functioning escalators and elevators, I for one will probably continue to take taxis to the airport. It seems that the main users will be people traveling longer distances to Dulles (at least those who are willing and able to carry luggage up and down stationary escalators if necessary) and commuters who already use the Metro.

Traffic will escalate near the stations in Reston, and anyone attempting to drive out of Reston will be caught in it. Greatly expanded rapid bus transit would have been far less disruptive and costly.

-- Alice Markham, Reston

Construction of the new Metrorail line through Tysons Corner and along Route 267 to Wiehle Avenue is so far along that it's easy to think of the whole package as a done deal. But there's a lot left to do.

The route doesn't even have an official name yet. Many people refer to it as the Silver Line, but the Metro board has yet to colorize it.

And that's the simple part. The transit authority, which is not in charge of building the rail extension but will operate it, has not set a final service plan for the line. Part of that will depend on how much room it can clear in the crowded Rosslyn tunnel by diverting some Blue Line trains.

Metro plans must also take into account how the new line might change ridership patterns. Commuters in the farther out suburbs of Virginia will be able to board at stations that are closer to them than Vienna or West Falls Church. Should train line assignments be adjusted accordingly? A plan to buy the extra rail cars to operate the line has only recently been set in motion.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is responsible for building the line, continues to pull together the plan for phase two of the construction, the Dulles part. That will add six stations beyond Wiehle Avenue. In addition to the one for Dulles International Airport, there will be stations near Reston Parkway, the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride Garage, Route 28, Route 606 and Route 772, at the end of the line in Ashburn.

Phase two is still in preliminary engineering, and the airports authority has invited the public to two information sessions this week to review the planning. The first will be held Monday at the Sheraton Reston, 11810 Sunrise Valley Dr. in Reston. The other is Tuesday at the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum, 21668 Heritage Farm Lane in Sterling. Both meetings are from 6 to 8 p.m.

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