Getting silver isn’t usually all that exciting. Just ask Olympic medal-winning gymnast McKayla “Not Impressed” Maroney. But the news that Metro will finally be taking control of the Silver Line from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on Tuesday is worth doing several round-off back handsprings over.
That’ll mark 90 days — or less — until service begins on phase one of the long-awaited project. Hopes are sky-high for the Metro system’s first new line in more than two decades: It’s expected to be the catalyst for transforming traffic-y Tysons Corner, Va., into a walker’s wonderland. And, eventually, it’s supposed to make flying out of Dulles not seem like a cruel joke.
Metro’s been striving to keep the public abreast of the developments with outreach events at stations and a new weekly email newsletter, The Silver Bulletin (which you can read at silverlinemetro.com).
So how much do riders really understand about the Silver Line? I decided to hang out at a few stations this week and ask them.
The good news for Metro is that my woman-on-the-street interviews wouldn’t make for a particularly hilarious “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” sketch. Most folks had at least the basic facts down, even if they had no intention of ever taking the Silver Line.
When I asked where this initial portion of the line runs to, Justin Ticzon, 25, hesitated a second. But the Eastern Market resident totally earns a passing grade for his answer: “Maybe Tysons Corner?” (For full credit, I was looking for Tysons and Reston.)
Then there were people who appeared to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the project. Bruce Alcan, 73, of Fort Totten, rattled off details from several controversies in the Silver Line’s history.
And Victoria Stone, 40, knew about every single project delay. She launched into a sob story about a friend who purchased a house right by the future Silver Line 10 years ago. The pal had been renting the house out but moved in four months ago, figuring Metro service was right around the corner. Ever since, she’s been driving more than an hour each way every day to her job in D.C.
When it comes to the Silver Line launch, “she doesn’t think it’s ever going to happen,” said Stone, who lives in Merrifield, Va.
That’s a negative point of view, but more accurate than the impression you might have if you looked at the newly updated maps being plastered throughout the system.
“I saw that it’s open,” 33-year-old Derrick Rende told me when I asked about the Silver Line status. “It’s no longer dashed on the map.”
Since Rende lives in Herndon, Va., not far from the Silver Line, he would have made plans to take it ASAP if I hadn’t broken the news to him that he has another few months to go.
His reaction to that? A little bit like Maroney’s probably would have been.