MCA Votes Support for ‘Dulles Rail Now!’

MCA Votes Support for ‘Dulles Rail Now!’

At a special called meeting of the McLean Citizens Association on Aug. 14, the board of directors voted to support the extension of rail service through Tyson’s Corner to Dulles Airport.

In addition to its support for the Metro rail alternative presented in the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project, the MCA voted to support the Dulles Rail Now! Coalition’s position.

The group, supported by the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Greater Washington Board of Trade, wants rail chosen as the means for rapid transit to Dulles airport, saying it serves the most riders.

The MCA board specifically recommends that bus rapid transit (BRT) be eliminated as an interim step.

But the MCA resolution recommends retaining existing express bus service until rail service can be completed.

ALTHOUGH SOME spokesmen urge completion of a rail system by 2010, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10), who represents the McLean area, says it will more likely be 2017 before the system can be completed.

No more than $100 million annually has been appropriated for any federal transportation project in the nation, Wolf says.

He favors BRT while acknowledging it is not as “glamorous” as rail.

Joanne Theon, co-chair of the MCA’s budget committee, voted against the resolution because it contained no option for monorail.

“I gather nobody has considered monorail,” she said.

“It was eliminated a couple of steps back,” said Wade Smith, who studied the EIS and gave a report to the MCA.

Theon said she had observed monorail in Sydney, Australia. “It did not impact visually. You could not hear it. It did not pollute,” she said.

“I am very sorry, at least in the area that affects us most, that they did not consider [monorail]. Perhaps there are good reasons for eliminating it, but they haven’t told us what they are,” she said.

Adrienne Whyte, chairman of the MCA’s planning and zoning committee, was not present, but sent an email questioning the absence of the Rapid Bus Transit option in the MCA’s position.

“There is an 18-month transition, and it was about $200 million more than the metro rail option, so it didn’t seem to make sense for those two reasons,” said Clark Tyler, president of the Hallcrest Heights Homeowners Association.

Whyte also raised concerns from the Lemon Road community about an increase in noise from Metro’s maintenance yard.

“Metro knows one thing — heavy rail,” said Smith, of McLean Hamlet.

“The only way to not have any noise or any impacts is to not do it.”

“We live in a major urban area with almost one million people. There won’t be any cows in the pasture,” he said.

TYLER, WHO STUDIED the EIS, said the MCA supports rail because “there is momentum.”

“It is so rare that you see a project of this magnitude that has that kind of momentum,” Tyler said. “That is a very valuable thing.

“When you have public officials like [Dranesville Supervisor] Stu [Mendelsohn], [Va. Del. Jim] Scott, [Va. Sen. Janet] Howell, and [Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Kate] Hanley, it amounts to kind of a drumbeat saying, ‘Listen to these people,’” said Tyler.

“This has been on the drawing board for a long time. You can pick apart the EIS like reading the Warsaw phone book,” he said.

“The reason the noise thing is so pregnant ... is that you have to look at the noise that comes from everything in the [Dulles] corridor,”

“They wouldn’t be planning to widen the Dulles Corridor if they weren’t expecting much more traffic. With those planned densities, that will increase traffic,” he said. “Traffic makes noise.”

“Outside the Beltway, when you see those 25-30 feet [tall] sound walls, and you get inside the Beltway and only see those rotting wooden walls, [you know] they didn’t do it because they look nice and they’re cheap. They did it because noise is a problem.”

“People are also a little frightened about night-time construction.

That isn’t going to be quiet, building trackage and elevating piles and piers,” Tyler said.

“Put up the noise barriers before you start, and that will help you not only when it’s completed but also during the construction phase.”

The vote passed 20-1-1.