Making Tysons Work

Making Tysons Work

Grid street system key for Tysons’ future.

Tysons Land Use Task Force held a community workshop on Monday night, July 16, to consider possible scenarios of how to plan the Tysons Corner future. About 100 people attended the meeting at Vienna Elementary School.

A main point of discussion was the expressed need for a grid street system. Vienna Town Councilwoman Laurie Genevro Cole asked what happens to Tysons if it fails to create a grid system. "Tysons in my view will not work without a grid of streets," said Clark Tyler, the Task Force chair.

"There would be a substantial reduction in congestion by adding the grid of streets," said G.B. Arrington, a senior professional associate for transit-oriented development at the Parsons Brinckerhoff Land Use Resource Center in Portland, Ore. Arrington said more housing units could also lead to reduced congestion, because there would be a better balance between jobs and housing offered at Tysons Corner. The current population of Tysons Corner stands at a little more than 16,000 people, while there are almost 107,000 jobs in the area.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said it was obvious the grid system is desirable in Tysons Corner. He said other features, such as open space, would also be desirable. "How do we pay for those things," said Schwartz, who is also concerned about the designs for Route 7 and Route 123 in future Tysons Corner. Arrington said a workshop on implementation would be held in September, and that question of finances for redesigning Tysons Corner would be tackled then. As for the design of Route 7 and Route 123, Tyler said he expects a dialogue with Virginia Department of Transportation officials before any of the current plans for the major roadways through Tysons Corner come to fruition.

Three planning scenarios were offered at the workshop on Monday night. One envisioned a significant increase in both jobs and housing offered in Tysons Corner, one had an emphasis on more employment and another on more housing. The Task Force, with the information gathered at Monday’s workshop, and two others to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, will work toward testing and refining two alternatives for updating the Tysons Corner comprehensive plan. The Task Force will hold a community workshop in September on implementation and another community workshop in December on the two advanced alternatives. After that workshop, a preferred alternative will be tested and refined. If it passes the testing, the preferred alternative will be presented as a recommendation for the plan update to the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in early 2008.

Tyler said the updated plan would serve the community for the next 25 to 30 years. "It is not a plan that is going to be implemented tomorrow," he said. Tyler added that certain constraints would also govern the plan’s lifespan. One of those constraints is the market. "You can’t build a lot of housing units if people don’t want to buy," he said.

Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) encouraged residents to get involved in the Task Force’s efforts. "If you don’t get involved and don’t get engaged you will watch things happen to you," said Hudgins. "It’s important to Tysons, but also important to neighboring communities."