The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) scored a significant victory in its efforts to ensure pedestrian friendly streetscapes and access to the proposed Tysons West Metro rail station when the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority agreed this month to a proposal to locate pedestrian access at the intersection of Spring Hill Road and Leesburg Pike.
The MCA work for seven months to get rail authorities to relocate the access. Previously, it was planned for the intersection at Tyco Road and there would also be a Kiss and Ride and bus facilities located off Route 7.
Rick Clawson, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, said, “We took into consideration the input from the Fairfax [County] Non-motorized Transportation Committee and the civic association. We incorporated their comments and what we came out with in the end worked for everybody.”
“We had the station designed improved to make it more pedestrian accessible. It’s now closer to where people live and work,” said MCA member Bill Byrnes.
The new proposal calls for a pedestrian bridge to span Leesburg Pike at Spring Hill Road. MCA members argued that having the bridge at this location would improve access from the Rotunda and other housing complexes in the area as well as the numerous businesses in that section of Tysons Corner.
Terri Schwendemann lives at the Rotunda and is eager for new transportation opportunities. “It would be absolutely wonderful to be able to take the Metro into work. But, by the time it finally gets here I probably won’t even live here anymore,” said Schwendemann. “Having it close to here will make things easier though.”
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation has set a date of 2009 for the Metro to extend to Tysons but the director of that organization, Karen Rae, says that date will probably be extended.
Byrnes appeared twice at public hearings on Tysons West Metro rail to get the walking distance from apartments in the area shortened even more but was unable to get further shortening. “We reduced the pedestrian walk to some extent. We’d like to see it shorter but that’s where compromise comes in,” said Byrnes,
Byrnes worked with area landowners and with representatives of HBL Tysons, the luxury car dealership, on the details of the new design. “HBL wanted to do something similar to what we were looking to do. Basically, we were working in the same direction,” said Byrnes.
Businesses in Tysons, such as HBL, have been supportive of the rail because it will provide more accessibility to employees and a wider array of housing options for workers commuting into Tysons. Tysons Corner has millions of square feet of commercial space, and it is expected that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be added to Northern Virginia over the next decade.
In addition to the pedestrian bridge at Spring Hill Road, MCA also worked out having vehicular access to the Kiss and Ride and the bus depot. The entrance to those facilities is far enough away from Route 7 that a traffic light can be installed to help mitigate traffic. “It will be a new light,” said Byrnes. “VDOT has a requirement that a traffic signal be a specific distance from the road so as not to back up traffic. It’s only prudent,” said Byrnes.
Byrnes is still working to ensure that each of the stations located in Tysons Corner have two entrances.
“This is a good design and a good example of compromise between citizens and commerce interests,” said Byrnes.