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Votes

Letter: Favoring Heavy Rail

To the Editor:

Del. Scott Surovell has long advocated extension of the Metro Yellow line along the Richmond Highway through Mt. Vernon to Ft. Belvoir as the best solution to engender a long list of urbanistic, spatial, aesthetic, environmental and financial improvements to the entire corridor. He asked recently that others provide their opinion on the matter as the final steps in the study are reaching their conclusion and I am pleased to do so.

In my opinion only Metro (ie. heavy rail) has the strength and regional connection to provide the catalytic thrust and transformational growth that will be required to move this area towards a long-term prosperous future. It is the most expensive, but as is well documented, it is effective in doing this throughout the metropolitan area over its 40-year history. We should recognize this and prepare realistically to make the investment in the future of the Mt. Vernon district it deserves.

There are many aspects pro and con that will be discussed in this study, but a couple of points come to mind about the other options being looked at that should be considered.

Light rail is an enticing option, financially and aesthetically, but in other locales where it works (Portland for example), there is sufficient density in the defined urban core to complete and complement the functional ensemble. I doubt that light rail here would attract the scale and type of development needed to catalyze and sustain the needed transformation in Mt. Vernon. Likewise, more buses on Rte. 1 may serve the existing suburban population better, but their use would not likely attract or compel the population and outside investment to create or sustain a dynamic urban environment analogous to what will occur with Metro.

C. Richard Bierce, AIA