Monday, March 31, 2014
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
Barring a rapid resolution to the project delays, people will have to drive to Tysons Corner for its “welcome the Silver Line” festival on May 31 – even though there will be no actual train to welcome.
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
WAMU - Washington —
In a western suburb of the nation's capital, reinforced concrete pillars are rising high above Virginia's traffic-clogged highways. They represent five years of nearly completed construction work on one of the nation's largest transit projects.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
(Washington, D.C. -- WAMU) A coalition of homeowners groups is ready to celebrate a victory in defeating a proposal to build a highway through the last sliver of nature still standing in the concrete jungle of Tysons Corner, Virginia.
Today the transportation committee of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to kill a plan to build a road down the middle of Old Courthouse Spring Branch Park, a 33-acre green space, the last buffer between urban development and hundreds of single family homes.
The park is a border between two urban environments. As shown in this satellite imagery, the city meets the park like a tide of concrete at the shores of nature. On the other side of the narrow park, it's orderly suburbs laid out like a microchip. Two ways of living protected from each other by forest, a forest it seems, both sides want to keep.
The board is responding to the protests of the group Save Tysons Last Forest, which pleaded with county transportation planners and supervisors to pick one of the other two options under consideration; the proposed highway is part of the county’s plan to enhance the road network around Tysons Corner as its population is expected to increase dramatically over the next several decades to 100,000 people.
“I think we are going to win, although you never know. It’s never done until it’s done, but we are very confident that the county supervisors, the congressional delegation, everyone has looked at this and said, we can’t destroy this,” said Tom Salvetti, who lives next to the park, where he walks his German Shepherd Kelsey daily.
One reason why Salvetti and his neighbors love Tysons “last forest” is its abundance of wildlife. A WAMU reporter walking the park’s leafy trails with Salvetti on Monday spotted a small herd of deer.
“And there are at least four bucks in these woods as well,” said Salvetti, who said he regularly sees fox, turtles, aquatic birds, woodpeckers, and other creatures near the forest’s stream which runs underneath Pike 7 Plaza and all the way to the Potomac.
“Having woods here in Tysons Corner is very important. Walk around Tysons. It’s all concrete and this is green space. This is dirt. This is nature,” he said.
Neighbor Lance Medric praised county leaders for listening to the complaints of residents, more than 600 of whom signed a petition, who opposed the highway plan.
“It means saving the few last trees that are still around. Everybody talks about it but it’s a lot easier to get rid of them. And this is a natural barrier between thousands of single family homes and a city,” he said.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are expected to take the proposal to build the connection to the Dulles Toll Road through the forest off the table today. The ramp would have connected the Toll Road to an extended Boone Boulevard.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
The Fairfax Board of Supervisors has given final approval to a massive transportation funding plan for the future Tysons Corner.
The Tysons Plan looks 40 years into the future, anticipating 113 million square feet of new development by 2050 in a modern city rising west of Washington. The board on Tuesday approved $2.3 billion to build a new transportation network for the future Tysons Corner, which includes a grid designed for buses, pedestrians, and cars -- as well as four new Metro Stations. It will be paid for in part by commercial and residential taxes.
Fairfax County Board chairman Sharon Bulova heralded the move, calling it "a major step in the right direction" for the area. “Investing in Tysons is an investment in the future of Fairfax County," she said. "Never before has such a long range, comprehensive plan been developed to support a major redevelopment initiative."
But the vision of high-rise condos and gleaming corporate offices doesn't mean much to Lucille Weiner, a senior citizen who lives in a condo in Tysons and who spoke at a public hearing Tuesday before the board approved the plan. She said the tax increases on residential properties in Tysons Corner would make her life more difficult.
"As I read the reasoning around taxing the neighborhood that is Tysons Corner, I read the phrase 'the folks that will benefit the most,'" said Weiner. "It sure isn't me who will have to move if this happens. I appeal to my elected representatives to help stop this frivolous idea on the extra tax on the people who live in Tysons."
Michael Bogasky, the president of the residents association in Weiner's condominium, agreed with that assessment. "Let's create a new tax district so that we can pay more in taxes than anyone else in Fairfax County," he said.
Weiner believes the new taxes should not be on homeowners at all.
"When the Metro reached Greenbelt [Maryland], residents of Greenbelt did not get taxed, nor did residents of Vienna [Virginia]. when the Metro reached Vienna," she said.
Developers stand to gain the most from Tysons' future growth. One of them, CityLine Developers, supports the tax plan.
"If I ever thought there was a day that I would come and ask you to approve $13 a square foot in transportation proffers and ask you for a 7- to 9- cent tax on top of that, I probably should have retired," said Thomas Fleury a CityLine vice president, with a laugh. "That's what it takes to get the job done."
Other critics argue there is a risk to predicting tax revenues over 40 years and if the county's projections don't work out, the plan will fall apart.
But lawmakers say the plan is flexible enough to adjust to swings in the economy and the real estate market.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU
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:
TN MOVING STORIES: Paris Launches Electric Car Share, Warren Buffett Gets Into Urban Redevelopment, Furloughed FAA Employees Get Paid
Monday, October 03, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
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)