The Old Courthouse Spring Branch forest provides a buffer for many Vienna residents from the Dulles Toll Road and Route 7. A stream, which emanates from a spring under the Pike 7 Plaza, is shown in blue. A proposed boulevard from the toll road to Route 123 would eliminate the forest, but the Fairfax Board of Supervisors seems inclined to exclude that as an option for the Tysons street grid. (Google Earth)

The request was made by Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) in a board matter near the end of the Nov. 20 meeting. (A blog post here last month said it might happen at last month’s meeting, but it was postponed to this month.) The request came after Vienna-area residents organized opposition to one of several proposals for connecting the toll road to the Tysons street grid, which included extending Boone Boulevard from Route 123 through the Old Courthouse Spring Branch park, a 33-acre forest just west of the Pike 7 Plaza shopping center.

The park is not only a recreational spot but also a flood plain with a stream that runs to the Potomac River, not to mention a noise buffer between Route 7 and neighborhoods such as Tysons Green, Tysons West, Westbriar and Westwood.

“It is a no-brainer,” Hudgins said to her fellow supervisors, “that the [forest] is not the right place for a ramp; if anything we should enhance the stream valley.”

County staff are studying the options in advance of a January board meeting. Hudgins asked that they make findings and recommendations by the end of the year, and that “Option 3, through the Resource Protection Area, be excluded as a viable option.”

Board Chair Sharon Bulova (D) noted that, “We’re not taking it off the table. We’re urging staff, this is not a good option...We are expressing our opinion here.”

Cathy Hudgins, the Fairfax County supervisor whose Hunter Mill district includes the Tysons forest. (Fairfax County)

Jeff McKay (D-Lee) clarified that Hudgins’ point was “to raise some concerns we’ve heard from the community and make sure that those get factored into the decision-making process staff goes through in forming which options that we ought to pursue.”

John Foust (D-Dranesville) said, “These options have been on the table too long. It is blatantly obvious that Option 3 is not a good option, and something that a very large part of our community has had to live with an axe hanging over its head for a year and a half. I have no problem saying it probably shouldn’t have been on the table to begin with.”

Hudgins noted that a ramp from the toll road would “dump hundreds of vehicles a day onto the future local grid of streets” and that “open space is something that we urge in Tysons, and this seems completely counterproductive.”

The board then voted in favor of Hudgins’ motion, with Frey voting no. The fate of the Tysons forest could be permanently preserved as early as a Jan. 15 meeting of the board’s transportation committee.

Bulova later posted on Facebook, “Our Board went on record yesterday supporting the Tysons Corner community in their effort to preserve a wonderful piece of green space.”

“We’re thrilled,” said Pam Konde, president of the Save Tysons Forest coalition of neighborhood groups, “to have the county go on record that they understand that this is not a feasible option. Enough is enough. We should be spending taxpayer money on all the other transportation issues we’re going to be having around Tysons.”