- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 24, 2006

The No. 1 issue facing our region is transportation, or more specifically, how to move people faster and more efficiently to their desired destination. I daily use all modes of local transport — car, Metrorail and bus. Let’s review the bidding from a leader in this effort.

The following is a quote from Ms. Patty Nicosan, president of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, at an open forum with the McLean Citizen’s Association this past year. Ms. Nicosan said Rail to Dulles is a development and not a transportation program. Surprising? Yes, indeed it was to those of us who heard it.

I am not against development, but I am when it substitutes for a fix to the massive traffic congestion we face right now. The 115,000 workers who regularly commute in and out of the Tysons Corner region each workday need immediate relief from this worsening traffic.

Our elected leaders (local, state, and federal) all have important roles in national security decisionmaking since their actions on transportation affect the several hundred-thousand military and civilian federal workers and contractors working to protect our nation’s defense. On a scary note, this also applies to the September 11, 2001, type mass evacuation when all depart work at the same time.

Moving 20,000 military jobs to Fort Belvoir in the next few years due to last year’s BRAC decision will create an untenable traffic situation along the I-95 and Route 1 entrances to Fort Belvoir. The number of jobs involved is likely to double to 40,000 with the expected defense contractor support that will accompany the move.

Regarding the I-66 corridor traffic problems, nothing else need be said.

Political leadership is required right now. These leaders can solve these problems by looking at an alternative solution in a new way — Metrorail on wheels. You know what that is: Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT. Let’s dispel the myth BRT critics have spread for years, that people won’t ride a bus. Wrong. They won’t ride a big, smelly, bus that doesn’t take them quickly to and from their desired destinations.

BRT can solve the three main arterial problem areas — to and from Dulles, the I-66 corridor, and Ft. Belvoir — in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost of Rail. BRT is used in major cities around the world, particularly in Australia and South America, with wonderful results.

Employing BRT doesn’t mean that you need to start over with Rail to Dulles. The existing plans can be used for Metro stations through Tysons out the Dulles Corridor. Adjoin the endpoints of the Metro, throughout Fairfax County with BRT stations. If there is a problem with the name BRT, just call it Metro, or Metro extension. People don’t care what mode of travel they ride so long it gets them to their destination in quickly, efficiently and comfortably.

Another often heard obstacle is the type or color of money — be it federal, state, or local funding. We all know the primary players at each level. If it takes special calls or meetings between our boards of supervisors, state and congressional officials or with the governor to reprogram the money, it should be done.

The commuters are looking for help — now — with this huge problem in our region. And no tax increase is needed to carry out this critical project.

HOWIE LIND

McLean, Va.

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