Board Repeats Rail Pledge

Board Repeats Rail Pledge

The Board of Supervisors sought to reassure landowners in the western part of the Dulles corridor Monday by reiterating their commitment to seeing the Dulles corridor rail project extended all the way to Dulles Airport.

Faced with mounting pressure from landowners in Herndon and Reston, the board voted to send a letter to state and local elected officials urging them to consider the Dulles rail project as a single project in future legislation rather than a two-phased project.

“Last year the board voiced its commitment for the full implementation of the 24-mile rail project,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), who suggested the letter. “I believe that it is still our long-term commitment.”

Metro is scheduled to start running trains to the planned Wiehle Avenue station in Reston by 2009 with the full extension set to open by 2016. Landowners in the western part of the corridor, who face higher real estate taxes to pay for rail, have expressed concern that they may never see a station in their neighborhoods if there’s no money to build the second phase. Their protests have pit them against landowners around Tysons Corner, who would see stations earlier.

Board Chairman Kate Hanley (D) also asked her colleagues to support a position opposing a parking structure at Wiehle Avenue until the second phase of the project has been funded.

“There is fear that the Wiehle station will become a terminus station with massive parking garages causing tremendous traffic jams,” she said.

Building a parking garage at Wiehle Avenue before putting any money towards the second phase of the project would send the message that the county considers the Wiehle Avenue station the end of the line, she said.

But Supervisor Stuart Mendelsohn (R-Dranesville) said refusing to build a parking structure at Wiehle Avenue would be “an absolute disaster.”

“People are going to come anyway and they’re going to park in the office buildings all around it,” he said.

Hanley said the Wiehle station is meant to be an urban-style station, one that is mostly fed by buses.

“It will be like Ballston, not like Vienna,” she said. “I think that to draw that many cars in what is essentially an urban area is not what we should be doing.”

Hanley’s proposal passed 9 to 1 with Mendelsohn casting the only “nay.”

Peter Johnston, an executive with Boston Properties which owns land in Herndon and Reston, said the board’s actions would be “reassuring if there’s some concrete proposal that guarantees it happens.”