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Transportation Nation

Virginia County Wants To Re-Envision Roads For City Rising West of Washington

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Tysons Corner (photo via wikimedia commons)

With four new Metrorail stations coming to Tysons Corner next year -- as well as a 40-year plan to to bring high-rise condos and gleaming corporate offices to the area -- local lawmakers are considering rethinking the road network.

The Fairfax County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors dug into a report Tuesday from Planning Commission member Walter Alcorn that includes about $1 billion in taxes on current and future developers to cover the costs of infrastructure for cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians.

“Right now Tysons has a super grid of very, very large blocks which are not walkable,” Alcorn said in an interview with Transportation Nation.  The county's plan states the "vehicle-based road network will need to transition into a multi-modal transportation system that provides transportation choices to residents, employees and visitors." That means, in part, building smaller, more walkable blocks.

County officials say they want the population of Tysons Corner to increase fivefold by 2050. Currently, the community has 20,000 residents.

The infrastructure redevelopment cost is $2.3 billion, and to pay for it, the planning commission wants to levy new taxes on developers and increase existing property taxes. However, tapping general fund revenues, issuing bonds, and adding a commercial and industrial tax are also under consideration.

“The actual street in front of the development that’s being constructed should be paid for by that developer. However, larger transportation projects that have a major benefit inside and outside of Tysons probably should be paid for by the public sector,” said Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

“These are extrapolations,” said Bulova, referring to the revenue figures. “We’re looking ahead to an extent we’ve never done before to look at what it is going to take to support the new development.”

And Alcorn says it's worth it. “The point of all these improvements is not to facilitate traffic through Tysons or across Tysons, but frankly to help Tysons become more of a walkable, transit oriented community,” he said. “It’s a grid of streets. It’s also new connections from surrounding roads into Tysons, for example, new connections from the Dulles Toll Road, and improved connection to the Beltway.”

The board will take up the proposal next at its scheduled meeting later this month.
See Fairfax County's "Transforming Tysons" slideshow:

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Transportation Nation

DC's Silver Line Reaches Construction Milestone

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Workers use a truss to lower the 380-tons of concrete span into place. (Photo by Armando Trull/WAMU)

(Armando Trull - Washington, DC, WAMU) The Silver Line to Dulles marked a major milestone Tuesday. Construction crews are fitting into place the final span for the bridges to carry the Silver Line trains.

"This marks the completion of the aerial structure of this project through Tyson's Corner," says Patrick Nowakowski, the executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. "We have over three miles of aerial structure and this is the last span being set into place."

The crews are using a truss longer than a football field to lift and move the 380-ton span, made up of 12 custom-cast concrete segments.

"Obviously when you're picking up anything this heavy and you have workers underneath it, you have to be very careful and do this in a safe manner," Nowakowski said. "We've been at this for several years now, so we've got it pretty well perfected, we take our time and we do it the right way."

When completed in late 2013, the span will carry trains over the Capital Beltway and into the heart of the largest employment center in Virginia -- Tyson's Corner. Eventually, the line will extend to Washington Dulles International Airport.

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Transportation Nation

Virginia Budget Passes Without Silver Line Funding

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rendering of a future Metro station in Tysons Corner, Virginia (image courtesy of Fairfax County)

(Sharon Rae -- Washington, DC, WAMU) In a swift legislative turn of events, the Virginia Senate abruptly passed the $85 billion state budget Wednesday -- without including money for a Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport.

The bill had been voted down three times in the past two months.

One moderate Democrat, Sen. Charles Colgan of Prince William County, broke with his party and joined Republicans to give the budget the one-vote majority required for passage. Colgan had been pushing Gov. Bob McDonnell for $300 million for the Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport, but he said the need to pass the budget outweighed the need to secure funding for the Silver Line project.

Democrats had balked yesterday over the Republicans' refusal to grant the funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles, saying the costs for commuters who use the Dulles Toll Road would rise from $2.25 to $6.75 one-way within a few years. They argued that the sharp increase was an undue burden that could stifle the economy of Northern Virginia — a region that provides 40 percent of Virginia's tax revenue.

The budget bill now goes to the governor for consideration.

Meanwhile, officials in Virginia's Loudon County are deciding whether or not it wants to go ahead and shoulder its share of the construction costs.

You can listen to the audio version of this story here. More TN coverage of the Silver Line can be found here.

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Transportation Nation

New South Florida Rail Connection to Miami International Airport Almost Done

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Artist's rendering of the completed AirportLink Metrorail extension

For close to three years, Miami-Dade Transit workers have been banging out 2.4 miles of track. And now AirportLink Metrorail -- a rail connection to Miami International Airport -- is slated to be finished this spring.

The new elevated rail line will connect Miami’s Metrorail system to a major new transit hub adjacent to Miami International Airport called the MIC, or Miami Intermodal Center. The MIC will be fully operational by 2013, connecting passengers and other transit riders to bus lines, Amtrak, and south Florida’s Tri-Rail commuter service.  An automated people mover that goes between MIC and the MIA is already in service.

AirportLink will connect to a new transportation hub called the MIC

The AirportLink, which is the largest expansion of Metrorail since it was launched in 1984, is an elevated train -- and one the most complicated transportation projects happening in the Miami area.  Paying for the project has come largely through a half-penny sales tax approved for the project by voters in 2002.  The sales tax has raised about $404 million dollars; another $100 million has come from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Transportation alternatives including buses, Amtrak, and commuter rail are available in Miami

The Miami area hosts Florida's largest collection of rail systems.  Orlando is building a commuter train called "SunRail", which is slated to open in two years.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Paris Launches Electric Car Share, Warren Buffett Gets Into Urban Redevelopment, Furloughed FAA Employees Get Paid

Monday, October 03, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NJ and the federal government reach a settlement on ARC tunnel money. (Link 1, link 2)

A Bluecar on Paris's Boulevard Sérurier (photo by Portemolitor via Flickr)

Paris launched an electric "bubble car" auto sharing program. Paris transportation head: "It's the same principle as Velib'; you use the car, leave it and that's it. Simple." (Los Angeles Times, The Guardian)

Warren Buffett joined an effort described as "a holistic approach to urban redevelopment." (USA Today)

Forbes magazine: don't bother making transit pretty. "The point of transit is to transport. Money buys movement, and funds are finite."

Furloughed FAA employees will receive back pay for the time they missed. (The Hill)

The Boston Globe interviewed Janette Sadik-Khan: "Change is messy, and change is hard...but it’s really important that we don’t get stuck in an approach that’s 25 years old."

The New York Post looks at who taxi medallion owners  give campaign donations to local politicians, and concludes "they are often getting their money's worth."

New York Times editorial: say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

DC's Police Complaints Board said that district police need to become better versed in the bike laws they enforce. (Washington Post)

Is the Tysons Corner Metrorail link on schedule or not? Fairfax County says no; the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says yes. (WAMU)

Countdown clocks come to Chicago bus shelters. (Chicago Tribune)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Montreal Bike Share In Debt; Amtrak to Senate: Gateway Tunnel "Critical" for Region

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate Democrats want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil industry is fixing gas prices. (Marketplace). Meanwhile, their proposal to strip oil companies of tax breaks failed in the Senate yesterday (New York Times).

Politico writes: "Republicans have a messaging problem on gas prices. More Americans actually believe in UFOs and ghosts than blame President Barack Obama for causing their pain at the pump."

Montreal's Bixi bike share program, losing money and in debt, needs financial backing from the city. (The Globe and Mail)

Auditions for NYC's "Music Under New York" program were held yesterday; WNYC stopped by to take pictures -- and audio -- of the would-be subway performers. Take a listen!

CNN Money profiles the president of Alta Bike Share, the company behind the bike share programs in Boston and DC.

Workers move closer to their jobs, take transit, buy less, as a result of gas prices:  (New York Times)

Loudoun County officials are exploring what would happen if they withdrew funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport. (Washington Post)

The Congressional Budget Office floated a mileage tax at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Financing 21st Century Infrastructure.” (The Hill)

Meanwhile, at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for the Federal Railroad Administration's budget request, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said the Gateway Tunnel is "critical" to high-speed rail service. He added:  "I think we're out of capacity in the Northeast Corridor...we have no place to put the New Jersey Transit trains that come into Penn Station." (Video below via Senator Lautenberg, YouTube)

The Freedom Rides turn 50 this year, and two original freedom riders talk will about that activism on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- high fuel prices squeeze Montana agencies (link)

-- DC wants to impose fees on intercity bus industry (link)

-- DC's mayor will announce new DDOT head today (link)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Predatory Auto Lending Scams, Ohio Pulls Funding from Cincy's Streetcar Project, and Weird Items People Try to Fly With

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohio has pulled nearly $52 million in funding for Cincinnati's proposed streetcar project. (Cincinnati.com)

DC's Metro says a new report shows that an increase in peak fares has not stopped riders from using the system (WAMU).

The Red Line rolls into Metro's Judiciary Square station (photo by Kate Hinds)

State and local officials in Virginia have taken the next steps in their fight to block a plan to build a new underground metro station at Dulles airport. (WAMU)

Gas prices are up 40% over last year, and economists are debating the effect on consumers. (NPR)

So are drivers buying less gas? Or are fuel-efficient vehicles partially responsible for a slowdown in gas sales? (Marketplace)

The Center for Public Integrity investigates predatory auto loans -- the same scams outlawed by Congress after the mortgage crisis.

ProPublica reports that natural gas might not be cleaner than burning coal.

The New York Post says a new study contradicts the NYC DOT's cycling numbers.

New York's MTA sometimes uses regular subway cars --with passengers on them -- to haul garbage. (NY Daily News)

Virgin Atlantic blogs about the strangest items passengers have tried to pass off as checked baggage, including bathtubs, dead cows, and a bag of cutlery previously stolen from another Virgin Atlantic flight.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The US DOT conducts surprise bus inspections -- and finds that one in 10 are unsafe. A budget deal is made -- and the slashing isn't just for high-speed rail. The Willis Avenue bridge makes its final journey. Bikes are now used to sell bridal wear. And: the San Francisco Bay Area's most dangerous transit mile.

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Transportation Nation

Virginia County May Withdraw Funding From Dulles Metrorail

Friday, March 18, 2011

While construction of Phase I of the Silver Line is already underway, Phase II is having trouble getting off the ground. (Photo by David Schultz)

(Washington, DC - David Schultz, WAMU) Cost estimates continue to rise for the second phase of the Dulles Metrorail project -- from Herndon to Dulles Airport and beyond. And now Loudoun County may withdraw its share of the funding for the project.

Loudoun County Supervisor Stevens Miller says a majority of his colleagues on the board think the cost of the so-called Silver Line is no longer worth it.

"Loudoun County's contribution to that project would be on the order of $300 million," Miller says. "But as of yet we haven't committed to fund that part. If we don't, then Phase II would be in complete jeopardy."

Board chairman Scott York says Miller is incorrect and that Loudoun will pay its share of the project -- just as long as its designers choose an above-ground aerial station at the airport.

"We have been communicating to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board that they had better well choose the aerial alignment," York says, "because of the fact that it is several hundred million dollars cheaper."

York says if the Authority chooses an underground station, Loudoun County will have a very serious discussion about opting out of the project.

You can listen to the story here.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Maryland Population Growth Expected Near Transit, Transpo Groups Like President's Budget, And NCDOT Combats Junk in Your Trunk

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transportation groups have much to like in President Obama’s budget request for infrastructure improvements -- but fear the spending plan might not get off the ground in Congress. (The Hill)

Planners in Montgomery County, Maryland, expect population growth will happen around transit centers and mixed use developments near the area's Metrorail station. (WAMU)

Christine Quinn announced her plan to ease NYC's parking restrictions and introduce new legislation that would allow ticket agents to literally "tear up" tickets. (WNYC)  Also: Quinn will be on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show today, and it's safe to say that this parking plan will come up in the conversation.

A political battle brewing over the New Starts transit funding program could endanger at least $394 million for Minneapolis's Central Corridor light-rail line. (Star-Tribune)

The North Carolina DOT has launched a campaign to combat junk in your trunk. Drive lighter, save money at the pump:

Ray LaHood takes to his blog -- and Twitter, and Facebook -- to defend the president's high-speed rail plan in the face of critics. "As the Secretary of Transportation, let me be clear: there is no amount of money that could build enough capacity on our highways and at airports to keep up with our expected population growth in coming decades."

Greece's socialist government was able to pass its sweeping public transportation reform legislation in a final vote two hours past midnight on Wednesday, despite protracted strikes since December. (Dow Jones)

NY's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has refused to move from a parking lot slated to be turned into a park on Greenpoint's waterfront. (NY Daily News)

Is Burlington's pro-bike policy part of the secret behind Vermont's low unemployment rate? (Good)

An app to report potholes has come to Boston. (Wired/Autopia)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: We look at the politics behind the iconic beleaguered middle class driver. Senator Jeff Sessions weighs in on high-speed rail -- and what he thinks transportation policy should focus on. Montana grapples with megaloads. Houston's light rail system stands to get more money if the president's budget is passed. And: we just can't get enough of love on the subway.

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TN Moving Stories: Traffic Deaths Drop, DC Metro needs more whistleblowers, and 8 weird transpo devices

Friday, September 24, 2010

Decrease in traffic deaths nationwide, and Florida has the country's largest drop. But why? (Florida Times-Union)

California's budget stalemate has put $3.9 billion in transportation funding on hold. (San Jose Mercury News)

DC Metro safer than last year, but needs more whistleblowers. (Washington Post)

General Motors' return to the stock market might be a smaller sale than previously thought. (Marketplace)

MARTA cuts roll out Saturday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Walking too passé?  Biking getting boring?  AltTransport lists the eight strangest transportation devices you can actually buy. Like the below PowerRiser.

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