The debate whether metro rail through Tysons Corner should go underground continues while proponents of the tunnel publish engineering studies on its feasibility. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) warns there are more important questions to ask in regards to the project.
Moran criticized Lerner Enterprises for proposing to build high-end luxury condos on property near Tysons Galleria, close to the planned metro stations. The Residences At Tysons II is a proposed development of two 30-story luxury condo towers. "That is terrible metro planning," said Moran at an event hosted by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday morning, Jan. 25. He said land that is critically important to justifying metro through Tysons would not be used in a way to enhance metro ridership and services.
"What justifies metro is what Arlington has done, where half of the people living in the metro corridor use the metro to go to work," said Moran. Instead of luxury condos, he said the land should be used for some affordable and workforce housing, with sufficient incentives for developers to make a profit. People who should live there, he said, are those who would be working in local businesses in Tysons Corner, such as retail workers. Instead, said Moran, the developer chose to maximize its profits by providing luxury housing for those who would not use the metro.
"I don't think [metro in Tysons] is going to work," said Moran. "Having said that, I'm going to push for it."
According to Moran, Tysons Corner should be where Fairfax County proves it deserves more metro rail. Moran said he liked the mixed-use development that was recently approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors around Tysons Corner Shopping Center. The Macerich Company plans on building eight towers around the mall, some of them residential, including up to 121 affordable and workforce units.
The other Fairfax County job center along the proposed rail route also has its flaws, said Moran. "Reston is not going to work either, because [the proposed metro line] is not close enough to Reston Town Center, where the action is," he said.
RESTON RESIDENT, and Reston Association Transportation Advisory Committee co-chair, Dave Edwards, said mistakes had been made in planning the land use around the area of the proposed metro line in Tysons Corner. Edwards said land use should have been planned in consideration of transportation, not separately from transportation. However, he said, there is still time for improvement. "It's not a dead issue," said Edwards. There are people in Tysons Corner, and certainly people in Reston, who want to see rail to Dulles Airport completed, said Edwards.
He added that the federal government should set basic regulations when funding rail projects, while local residents and experts work out the details of the projects. Edwards then conceded that such hands-off funding from the federal government would never happen.
Moran also warned that if the rail project incurred any more cost, it might lose nearly a billion dollars of federal government funding. "This project is right on the edge. Just a little more cost and you'll topple over," said Moran.
Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) said the project is close to obtaining a full funding grant agreement and beginning construction. She said the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution two weeks ago in which it states it is committed to the project as it was approved. "Metrorail [to Dulles] is the number one priority of Fairfax County," added Hudgins.