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To Urbanize or Not To Urbanize? Virginia Residents Divided Over Metro Expansion

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 02:53 PM

Escalator leading down to the Huntington Metro Station (BurntPixel/flickr)

At the Huntington Metro station in Fairfax County, opinions are strong about the future of the Route One corridor. Should it remain a string of suburban strip malls and big-box stores connected by a bus-rapid transit line? Or should it become a high-density corridor similar to Rosslyn or Ballston?

John Smith says he would like to see the Metro expand south, although he understands how some people might be uncomfortable with the kind of density that would require.

"I guess city growth is just catching up with them, and they are moving further out," he says. "It is kind of unfair if that is the reason they bought right there a couple of blocks off of Route One."

Last month, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation began a long-awaited analysis of multimodal alternatives along Route One from Alexandria to Quantico. Some are hoping that the study will recommend the Yellow Line is expanded through Fort Belvoir into Lorton. But Virginia Hills resident Jayna Reeder thinks that would ruin her neighborhood.

"That's why we moved away from the city," says Reeder. "So we don't have to have big buildings like that around our neighborhood."

At that moment, she stopped talking and waited for a Metro train to pass overhead. Reeder gestured toward it, as if it made her point for her. "See, like right now, we had to pause because the Metro and other things."

Even so, James Sawyer of Occoquan says urban development is spreading to the suburbs whether people like it or not.

"If you want a sleepy, quiet neighborhood, go to the suburbs of Richmond," he says. "Don't be in northern Virginia."

The study is expected to take about a year.

Follow Michael Pope on Twitter.

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