- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Paramount to the successful expansion of Tysons Corner Center — an expansion that will more than double the overall size of the development while also adding residential and office space — is a comprehensive plan to deal with the subsequent increase in traffic. Making the new Metro expansion an integral part of the design is a good start, as is coordinating the construction of the three phases of development with the construction of the Metro stop. It would be overly optimistic, however, to assume that the new Metro line will offset the significant increase in traffic that is certain to accompany the mixed-use development. The new Metro line will help, but it can’t be relied upon as the sole remedy.

Advocates of building the Metro extension in a costly and superfluous tunnel under Tysons Corner rather than the more economically efficient elevated rail — a plan that Gov. Tim Kaine wisely rejected — should take note of the development’s proposed use of elevated walkways to connect the planned office, residential and commercial buildings. Creating a more pedestrian-friendly Tysons Corner and a cost-effective rail project are not mutually exclusive.

Other measures suggested by the developer, Macerich Co., which would include, as The Washington Times reported yesterday, incentives to use public transportation, available shuttle service and a restriction on the number of parking spaces used by office tenants, are necessary. But they are not sufficient. Traffic in and around Tysons Corner is a nightmare now; doubling the size of Tysons Corner Center, along with other inevitable growth over the next 15 years, requires a more substantial solution. The central component of any transportation solution needs to be increased road capacity. To solve the current traffic problems and prepare the region for another decade of growth, that solution needs to be on the table now.

The General Assembly convened Wednesday in Richmond for a special session set to run through tomorrow to consider increased transportation funding. But with the House and Senate at odds over how best to secure funding, it seems doubtful that any measure will be passed. The $2.4 billion package introduced by House Republicans includes $1.5 billion from a 20-year bond, which the Senate opposes. Senate Republicans have unfortunately lined up with Mr. Kaine to support the use of new taxes and fees. The General Assembly has reached such an impasse before, but it’s becoming increasingly important for lawmakers to find a workable compromise. That’s the only way to start the process of correcting Northern Virginia’s traffic problems.

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