On Saturday, those familiar chimes probably will be a welcome sound to Fairfax County residents and businesses, as Metro’s Silver Line begins operations, spanning from Reston to Tysons Corner.
It is important to acknowledge what our political leaders have accomplished in bringing the Silver Line to this point. It wasn’t too long ago when a new Metro line in the heart of Fairfax County would have seemed impossible. However, this is a new era of improved regional mobility and interconnectivity.
For the past 25 years, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce has advocated on behalf of the business community for innovative transportation solutions to continue to enhance economic vitality.
Exciting opportunities abound for the region, but more work lies ahead. For example, Metro will need regional funding to fully implement an eight-car train system to ease crowding. Additionally, Interstate 66, a priority for Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne , has the potential to be a public-private partnership and a game-changer for one of the nation’s most clogged arteries. Lastly, a new Potomac River crossing could bring much-needed traffic relief to Northern Virginia and the entire region for generations to come.
Transportation is not a partisan issue. In fact, it is a core service of government. State and local leaders in Virginia, including Terry McAuliffe (D), former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) know this to be true. Local businesses and residents are benefiting from recent landmark transportation reform and funding legislation as a result of bipartisan work.
Federal policymakers must now do the same. The reauthorization of the surface transportation program, which will expire shortly, is critical to highway and transit funding for the region. Without the highway and transit dollars that flow from this program, new projects and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure will slow or halt. The reauthorization must move to the top of Congress’s agenda to ensure that this critical legislation is addressed in a bipartisan and timely manner.
Businesses are ready to do their part and pay their share of the costs associated with the construction of new transportation solutions. Organizations including the 2030 Group, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce have and will continue to lead these discussions.
Meanwhile, take a ride on the Silver Line and experience the future for yourself. Significant and meaningful transportation investments can and will inspire the further growth and development of our community.
The writer is the president and chief executive of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce.