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Officials: Metro Silver Line Remains Vital to Area’s Economic Development

by Dave Emke — March 30, 2017 at 2:45 pm 17 Comments

There may be a sense of frustration and concern regarding ongoing construction of Metro’s Silver Line, area elected officials said Thursday, but its great potential must be remembered.

Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and state delegates Ken Plum (D-Fairfax) and Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax/Loudoun) talked about Metro and the surrounding future development during a legislative panel discussion sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Dominion Virginia Power in Herndon. Plum, the former state chair of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, said it is important to put the status of Metro’s Silver Line in perspective.

“We really ought to stop for a moment and celebrate where we are,” Plum said. “For 25 years of my life I worked on that project, and it was announced to be dead half a dozen times, at least. … Now, by 2020, we’re going to have it all the way out into Loudoun County. And we have an incredible opportunity with that.”

A large amount of development has happened or is in the works in the area of the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, the current western terminus of the Silver Line. Other projects are also springing up near the line’s future stations in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The Metro Washington Airport Authority’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is overseeing construction, announced recently that Phase 2 work to extend Metro through Reston into Dulles Airport and onward to Ashburn is more than 56 percent complete. However, deficiencies in Metro’s budget and decreasing ridership have raised a number of questions in recent months about the future viability of the transit system.

Boysko, whose district includes Herndon, praised the state’s creation of the Metrorail Safety Commission to examine how Metro is being organized and managed. She said as Phase 2 of the project continues, it is imperative that safety issues as well as financial and operational performance are properly monitored and addressed.

“People say this is the least functional transit system in the country,” she said. “We have such a great opportunity as we are expanding into Phase 2, [but] it has to be a success. We have really focused our economic development around Phase 2 being successful.”

Hudgins, who is also a member of Metro’s Board of Directors, said this is a conversation she “live[s] every day.” She said Metro is unique in many ways, most notably in its partnership between multiple jurisdictions as well as in its infrastructure itself.

“I think people need to understand, it is a different kind of railroad,” she said. “That system is one of the most difficult systems [to maintain] of all those in the country.”

Plum said Metro needs to be revitalized, and in order for that to happen, it needs to continue to receive the support of the surrounding community.

“Please, don’t wash your hands of Metro,” Plum said. “It’s vital to the economic development of our region and I think we all recognize [that].”

The legislative recap event sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is a chance for local businesspeople to keep abreast of important issues in the community, said Mark Ingrao, GRCC president and CEO.

“We’re a catalyst for business growth and entrepreneurship in this area of Fairfax County,” he said. “We think that we have the type of programming our members are looking for to connect them with other businesses [and] to educate them on legislative things like this.”

  • Mike M

    Once a again, a familiar and dishonest Democratic theme:
    Government actions are at the heart of economic growth.

  • Greg

    But of course! The core of Brutalist Metro is crumbing (under Hudgins’ leadership no less) despite us throwing billions of dollars at it and nearly two years of “surges.” And here comes the silver line on the backs of toll road users and local property owners — to save everyone from all ills?

    Dulles isn’t exactly booming (despite its own $1.5 billion subway), but, no doubt, the silver line will cure all its ills as well.

    • Mike M

      The “surges” were a bold and rational idea that simply ran afoul of a workforce with Socialist ideals. Before you surge; you must purge!

  • taylor13

    I lean to the left. I am pro public transportation. I believe that one of the worst mistakes this country has made was not investing in public transportation.

    That being said. I am completely against metro silver line. As a customer, I prefer the toll-road bus to the silver line. As a tax-payer, I am sick of wasting money on a failing project. Sorry Plum, I have washed my hand of Metro and you should too.

    • Mike M

      Buses were the answer. Perhaps dedicated highway lanes. They go everywhere. But first, we’d have to get people to use them. In the burbs they drive around nearly empty.

      • Amy Sue

        Ridership might increase if schedules/routes were more convenient. I used to ride the commuter bus to WFC metro station every day because the route made sense and was convenient. No breakdowns, almost always got a seat, and I could walk from my door to the bus stop. Plus I met some nice people. On the other hand, to take a bus to HerndonI would had to have taken a bus to the hub in the Reston Town Center and wait 40 minutes for a connection to the Herndon bus to drive 10 minutes to Herndon. It would have taken me at least an hour to go from North Point in Reston to Herndon. I could have walked it faster. If the schedule were more sensible, I would definitely have taken the bus.

        • Mike M

          Interesting. Just for kicks, I looked into the bus. I gave it five minutes and couldn’t figure it out.

          • taylor13

            It definitely takes a lot of research to figure out, you are not alone. It isn’t for the casual rider (which is an issue!)

      • taylor13

        I was not talking about “ridership” of buses in general, and yes, there are many issues with buses. I was just stating that I used too take the bus down the toll road for work everyday. When the silver line opened, they cancelled the bus. The metro ride (with all of the transfers and delays) took about twice as long and costed twice the money. I decided to start driving.

        • Mike M

          They thought they were canalizing you into their solution. Backfire! That’s the “public” in public transportation.

  • 30yearsinreston

    The dynamic duo of Hudgins and Plum who believe in socialising the cost and privatising the profits
    Why aren’t the developers who are cleaning up on the back of the Silver payng their share
    Now they just passed an additional tax to fix the traffic that the ‘development’ causes

    Two freeloaders who depend on gerrymanders and developer donations don’t speak for us

  • dudewe

    Thee development that has come with the Silver Line has caused more development and much more traffic congestion. It will be even worse as the full development takes place. This is happening because the supervisors voted to rezone the areas along the Dulles Corridor to much higher intensity than the roadway system can handle. Now the supervisors realize that the infrastructure needs almost $100 million in improvements, many of which won’t occur for decades or ever. And who do they want to pay? Mostly the taxpayers – the all ready wealthy developers are getting an unbelievable gift while the citizens will bear the cost of increasing congestion and taxes.

    • Greg

      “Now the supervisors realize that the infrastructure needs almost $100 million in improvements,…”

      You are off by several orders of magnitude: the transportation infrastructure needed to support the silver line is at least $2.27 billion.

      “The proposed Reston Transportation Funding Plan addresses the $2.27 billion (in 2016 dollars) need for infrastructure improvements to support the recommendations in the Reston Phase I Comprehensive Plan Amendment.

      https://www.restonnow.com/2017/02/21/reston-transportation-funding-plan-meeting-set-for-thursday-in-herndon/

  • The Constitutionalist

    The only time anyone will use anything is when it’s more convenient, less expensive, or higher quality than its competitors.

    Metro is none of those.

    Metro takes longer than driving. It costs more than driving. It’s less convenient than driving. It’s a hell of a lot worse of an experience than driving, even in our traffic.

    And the worst part is, whether you use it or not, you have to pay for it with your taxes!

    AKA, everything Ken has ever done in his whole life.

    • RVA_101

      Funny, because I enjoy taking Metro every day. I get to start on my work early or listen to music or read the paper and occasionally glance out the window and sail past rush hour on 267 and point and laugh at the miserable drivers.

      And with all the dense transit oriented development occurring, that option will soon be available to more people who therefore (gasp!) don’t use cars unless absolutely necessary. I enjoy paying taxes if I know it goes toward Metro actually, I don’t want a dime going towards roads. I don’t drive, and therefore, using your attitude, I shouldn’t have to pay taxes on it.

      Another thing, you guys seem to love widening and building roads to help with the traffic, but clearly no one pays attention to induced demand (aka you build more roads, more people will drive on it because they think it will be quicker now that it’s wider).

      Eventually we’ll get to a point where a road like Sunset Hills is 12 lanes each way and there’s no room for actual buildings, Reston can just have road surface take 50 percent of their land area. And people here would drool over the idea.

      So I’m glad Metro is expanding. And I wouldn’t mind paying more towards it in taxes. Beats having to give in to the car culture that dominates most of metropolitan America today. Thank god that trend is changing and public transport is becoming popular again.

      • Greg

        And you like your own posts. Game over.

      • The Constitutionalist

        “public transport is becoming popular again.”

        Clearly not.

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