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  #41  
Old Posted Aug 4, 2009, 1:43 PM
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O'Malley Endorses Light Rail for Purple Line (Washington Post)

O'Malley Endorses Light Rail for Purple Line

By Lisa Rein and James Hohmann
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:06 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...l?hpid=topnews

Gov. Martin O'Malley endorsed a light rail line over bus rapid transit Tuesday by announcing that Maryland will pursue federal transit money to build a Purple Line linking Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

"What we're presenting today is rightfully called the locally preferred alternative," O'Malley said, during a news conference at the New Carrollton Metro Station, the proposed eastern terminus for the Purple Line. He said his administration will apply for funding for the 16-mile line as well as a 14-mile Red Line through Baltimore, two long-awaited projects that have been in the planning stages for years.

O'Malley scheduled a whistle-stop train tour befitting both announcements: After the 8:30 press conference at New Carrollton, he plans to board a Baltimore-bound MARC train at 9:30 and travel to the West Baltimore station. When that train arrives at 10:14 a.m, he'll make his Red Line announcement.

Political support for both projects is behind light rail, although they face local opposition because they would run along local streets and not underground. The Purple Line would run along a popular wooded trail in Chevy Chase and through the golf course of a country club in Columbia.

Both lines are expected to get a boost from the No. 2 official at the U.S. Department of Transportation, John D. Porcari. who championed both when he was O'Malley's transportation secretary. Competition for federal money still will be tough, though.
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Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 6:20 PM
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Rail Station at Heart of Plan To Remake New Carrollton (Washington Post)

Rail Station at Heart of Plan To Remake New Carrollton

By Greg Gaudio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...302595_pf.html

The train station is the nucleus.

Around it, high-rise buildings with a mix of apartments, offices and shops form a bustling urban center. People use public transportation more and their cars less. They stroll on wide sidewalks past storefronts, greenery and public art.

This is the vision for the area around New Carrollton Station, circa 2030, outlined in a new transit district development plan and zoning overlay that received preliminary approval July 30 from the Prince George's County Planning Board.

The plan, which proposes zoning changes and new standards for developers, is intended to transform the area into a walkable community. At present, the area is a combination of expansive parking lots, monolithic office buildings, single-family homes and garden apartments. The main retail offerings are in shopping centers along Annapolis Road, a six-lane highway.

"The season for mega-malls and sprawl development, it's basically over," said William Washburn, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission coordinator who is managing the New Carrollton project. "The Washington metro area, like the rest of the nation, is facing real challenges in terms of fiscal ability to maintain services. . . . Sprawl development is becoming harder and harder to service."

The plan envisions five distinct "neighborhoods" in the 640-acre site, with as many as 5,500 housing units and as much as 6.1 million square feet of office and retail space.

A renovated train station would anchor the urban Metro Core neighborhood, where mixed-use high-rises would sprout around the existing Internal Revenue Service and Computer Sciences Corp. buildings. The surrounding neighborhoods would consist of smaller mixed-use structures and existing homes.

Extensive redevelopment is also planned for neighborhoods designated in the plan as the Annapolis Road Corridor and Garden City.

In the existing North Hillside residential neighborhood, the plan shows infill development replacing some buildings in the 187-unit Carrollon Manor apartment complex. The nearby Carrollan Gardens Condominiums would remain intact.

About 330 single-family homes in the West Lanham Hills-Hanson Oaks area, secluded neighborhoods at the western edge of the site, would also be left untouched.

"We think that this is in keeping with the trend that more and more jurisdictions are doing anyway," Washburn said. "Everybody in the region is looking at Arlington County," where development has flourished around Metro stops.

The five members of the county Planning Board voted unanimously to grant preliminary approval to the plan, a sign that they are likely to adopt it when they return from recess Sept. 10.

It would then be submitted to the Prince George's County Council, which sits as the District Council on planning and zoning matters. Washburn said he expects the council to vote on the plan in March.

After that, the Park and Planning Commission would incorporate the Planning Board's recommendations and the council's amendments into a final version of the plan.

The area around New Carrollton Station has long been considered an ideal candidate for redevelopment because it serves as a commuter hub and a gateway to Washington for travelers coming from the north and east. The station is the eastern terminus of Metro's Orange Line and a stop for MARC and Amtrak trains and a variety of bus lines. In the region, only Union Station offers more transportation options, Washburn said.

Maryland also proposes to make the station the eastern terminus for a light-rail Purple Line between Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Plans to redevelop the area were in place as early as the 1980s but failed to materialize. Al Dobbins, deputy planning director for the Park and Planning Commission, attributed the delay mostly to the county's historically soft commercial real estate market.

"The county as a whole just hasn't been successful in attracting transit-oriented or mixed-use development," he said. Developers might also have been deterred by the area's uneven topography, Dobbins said.

The recession helped stall several projects that were on the table.

One was a $350 million venture between Metro and Federal Development, a company that specializes in developing public property, that would have placed mixed-use high-rises on Metro land between the station and the IRS building. "Basically, it timed out," said Nat Bottigheimer, Metro's assistant general manger of planning and joint development. "Neither one of us exercised the option to continue it."

Another was Metroview, 10 mixed-use 20-story buildings planned by the Carl Williams Group and UrbanAmerica, owners of the Computer Sciences building. "It's been on hold since the real estate crash a year and a half ago," said John Lally, an attorney for Carl Williams.

Lally said Carl Williams is positioning itself to build when the economy rebounds.

If the New Carrollton plan is approved, "the council makes it clear that developers don't have to walk around in the dark," Lally said. "They say: 'Here are your guidelines, aim for this, keep the bar high, and you're likely to get our approval.' "

People who live near the station are optimistic about redevelopment, but they are also skeptical, said Kate Tsubata, a member of the West Lanham Hills Citizens' Association. "Everything that was promised to us in the past never materialized," she said. "In the early '90s, we were told that the [transit-oriented development] zone would create mixed-use development that would bring in new businesses, people interested in buying houses and creating jobs. And none of that happened. We got the IRS, which is basically a little island fortress."

Tsubata said she hopes that the final version of the plan focuses more on residents, allowing them to "be the contractors on jobs [or] have the first crack at the contracts for renting a store."
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  #43  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2009, 6:24 PM
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Road Closures Transform Tysons (Vienna Connection)

Road Closures Transform Tysons
Three more long-term closures put in place, with more to come.

By Mike DiCicco
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Vienna Connection

http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/...per=73&cat=104

Temporary closures of lanes, shoulders and turn lanes have become commonplace in Tysons Corner, the most heavily traveled area of the county, in the year or so since construction work began on Rail to Dulles and High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on the Capital Beltway. But three more closures just went into effect that will not reopen for the morning rush or at the end of the week. One, in fact, is permanent.



However, McLean Citizens Association President Rob Jackson said there wasn’t a lot of concern about these three closures among McLean residents. "I haven’t heard a lot of specific complaints," he said, although he noted that, "if we had our way, we wouldn’t be going through this."

He said he wanted to commend the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Fluor Corporation — the company building the HOT lanes — for a "180-degree turnaround" in communication efforts since last year’s outcry from residents who learned of a staging area being cleared near Cooper Middle School only after they saw trees being cut down. "They’re really doing a good job of reaching out and communicating ahead of time and letting everyone know what’s going on," Jackson said.

THE CLOSURE NEAREST MCLEAN, which went into effect on Sunday and will last 45 days, is on the ramp from the Beltway southbound to northbound Route 123. The detour route requires drivers to take a short trip along the Dulles Toll Road to hit Dolley Madison Boulevard.

The route is actually shorter, and VDOT spokesman Steve Titunik said traffic on what is now the detour route was always heavier than on the ramp that is now closed. And the jaunt on the Toll Road does not cost anything. However, Titunik said, "The construction part of this is not fun."

The latest ramp closure is to allow for preparation for the construction of ramps connecting Westpark Drive to the HOT lanes, and also for the creation of two water retention facilities. Another connection to the HOT lanes will be built nearby, from Jones Branch Road. Titunik said the new connections would encourage the many commuters who work in that area, where there are a number of large employers such as Hilton, Gannett and Freddie Mac, to carpool. "The point is, it’s providing choices for getting in and around Tysons Corner," he said.

Any drivers who miss the detour onto the Toll Road, though, will have to take the Route 7 exit and would likely use Magarity Road to get into McLean. Jackson said the citizens association is already concerned about "bailout traffic" on its roads, caused by drivers trying to avoid construction delays now, rising tolls on the Toll Road in the near future and, eventually, backups due to a more densely developed Tysons Corner. He said the MCA was unconvinced that rail and the HOT lanes would keep most commuters from driving by themselves, although he was pleased that the toll lanes would allow Beltway bus service.

Just west of the Beltway ramp closure, the barricade that recently closed off the median break on Route 7 in front of Marshalls Department Store, north of Route 123, will one day be replaced by a Metro station. Previously, drivers coming out of the Marshalls parking lot could turn left onto Route 7 north or cross the road to an unnamed service road known by the state as Frontage Road. This road is the only point of access to a number of businesses, including Clyde’s Restaurant, the Orvis sportsman’s clothing store and a Virginia ABC store among others, and leads to Pinnacle Drive. Drivers coming out of Frontage Road can no longer turn left onto Route 7 south or cross to Marshalls.

"That’s being closed because we’re about to start construction of Tysons Central Station there," said Marcia McAllister, communications manager for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. In the early fall, all other mid-block turns along Route 7 in Tysons Corner will be closed as well, as the median is widened to make way for the rail that will run down its center.

ROUTE 7 will be pushed out to fill the areas now occupied by service roads, and McAllister said the service roads also would begin to be permanently shut down in the fall.

Just south of Marshalls, the left turn from the ramp coming from Route 123 south onto eastbound Route 7 has also been closed, due to tunnel construction. "You can still go down that ramp and go westbound on Route 7," said Howard Menaker, an engineer with Dulles Transit Partners. Rail will depart from the Dulles Toll Road at Tysons Corner, heading south on Route 123, tunneling under the intersection with Route 7 and emerging at the station in front of Marshalls, Menaker said.

The left turn will reopen in three years. In the meantime, drivers who want to get from Route 123 southbound to eastbound Route 7 have to make a left on International Drive, which hits Route 7 only about a block from the interchange.
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Old Posted Sep 15, 2009, 6:36 PM
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Plans Don't Square With Tysons Vision (Washington Post)

Plans Don't Square With Tysons Vision
Proposed Rules Renew Density Debate

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...091403370.html

Fairfax County planners on Wednesday will propose rules for builders in Tysons Corner that retreat from the vision local officials approved last fall, a shift some civic leaders worry will jeopardize the blueprint to remake the area into a walkable urban center.

The planning staff's concept of the best way to redevelop the area's sprawling office buildings, strip malls and traffic-choked roads is at odds with the ideas of a county-appointed panel that a year ago recommended allowing developers to construct high-density buildings, where the square footage could be as much as six times the area of the land. In exchange, landowners would be required to contribute land or cash toward a new, walkable street grid, parks, fire stations and other amenities, the panel said.

The four major roadways that slice through the area -- routes 7 and 123, the Capital Beltway and the Dulles Toll Road -- would not change. But the task force envisioned eight mini-cities springing up around them with a dense mix of housing, offices and stores within a half mile of four Metrorail stations under construction in Tysons, the tallest buildings located closest to the stops. A new bus or light-rail line would be added to ferry workers and residents within the 1,700-acre area so people would not have to drive. An expected 100,000 jobs would be added to Virginia's largest employment hub, double the number there now, and the number of residents, now 17,000, eventually would grow to more than 100,000, according to the task force's plan.

As a 23-mile Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport neared approval in September 2008, the supervisors quickly signed off on the concept. But planners charged with translating the vision into zoning rules reviewed it and came to a different conclusion:

The proposed city is too urban.

"We're looking for an urban feel and urban experience," said Jim Zook, the county's planning director. "But there are cities across this country that work very well at lesser densities" than the task force proposed.

Zook and his staff have concluded that the density of what the task force envisions could be built when Tysons is fully redeveloped in about 40 years would overwhelm traffic. Planners say that would be about five times the 44 million square feet of offices, malls, condos and townhouses there now. Before developers can build high-rises, even near the Metrorail stations, planners say, the area's already clogged road network will need to expand to accommodate the extra development because many of the new residents and office workers will drive. That would require three new interchanges on the Dulles Toll Road; another lane on the Beltway between Interstate 66 and Route 7, in addition to the high-occupancy toll lanes now under construction; and wider lanes on other local roads.

So planners have devised rules that reduce by as much as one-third the building recommended by the task force. Before development could proceed, specific road improvements and other amenities would need to be in place. While boosters of more dense development say a shuttle bus system is a crucial element of the redevelopment that must be running when the Metro stations open, the staff says the idea requires more study before it is included in the zoning plan.

"It comes down to a difference over timing," said Walter L. Alcorn, the planning commission chairman who is leading efforts to reconcile the conflicting visions. "The staff's perspective is that we have to look at the constraints of the transportation infrastructure and how much it can take. Based on that, the densities that were recommended by the task force were too high."

The building rules for the redevelopment of Tysons are far from written. The draft could change before the planning commission holds public hearings and recommends a final version to the supervisors, probably by late spring. But frustrated landowners, business leaders and others who worked over four years to create a pedestrian-oriented plan for Tysons criticize the planners' vision as shortsighted.

"It's business as usual: Suburban development standards we're trying to get away from," said Clark Tyler, a transportation and economic development consultant for Science Applications International who is chairman of the 37-member study panel. "You're going to have more development that's contingent on the automobile, which is insanity."

Tyler and others supporting denser development say it would take decades for property owners to build as high and as big as they would be allowed to; they say the market will help set the pace of construction.

"No area gets fully built out to its full potential," said J. Douglas Koelemay, a task force member and the vice president of community relations for SAIC, whose complex on Route 7 is next to one of the Metrorail stations. Property owners who stand to benefit from the development possibilities say they are happy to donate land for a new grid of streets and other amenities. But to generate the revenue to make it financially practical to tear down car dealerships and other low-rise buildings on their land, they say they need to be able to build more.

"Unless there's enough economic value in what we're redeveloping, they don't come down," said Aaron Georgelas, managing partner of the Georgelas Group, which plans to build a mixed-use development on about 30 acres it owns next to one of the Metrorail stations.

Tyler and others on the task force are lobbying the supervisors to push for more generous building rules. But the political perils are clear: Many residents of neighboring McLean and Vienna remain cautious about creating a large urban center at Tysons.

"We're not like downtown D.C., where you walk three blocks and there's another Metro station," said Rob Jackson, president of the McLean Citizens Association.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said there might be a middle ground: building rules that could be changed midway through the redevelopment if there is too much congestion.

"We need sufficient density in Tysons to make the vision happen," she said. "We also need to provide flexibility in the plan to accommodate future unknowns."
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  #45  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2009, 6:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 202_Cyclist View Post
Plans Don't Square With Tysons Vision
Proposed Rules Renew Density Debate

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

...

As a 23-mile Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport neared approval in September 2008, the supervisors quickly signed off on the concept. But planners charged with translating the vision into zoning rules reviewed it and came to a different conclusion:

The proposed city is too urban.
Is there such a thing as too urban?
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  #46  
Old Posted Sep 17, 2009, 1:43 PM
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Tea Party Protesters Protest D.C. Metro Service

Tea Party Protesters Protest D.C. Metro Service

Wall Street Journal
9/16/09

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/0...metro-service/

Protesters who attended Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Washington found a new reason to be upset: Apparently they are unhappy with the level of service provided by the subway system.

Rep. Kevin Brady called for a government investigation into whether the government-run subway system adequately prepared for this weekend’s rally to protest government spending and government services.

Seriously.

The Texas Republican on Wednesday released a letter he sent to Washington’s Metro system complaining that the taxpayer-funded subway system was unable to properly transport protesters to the rally to protest government spending and expansion.

“These individuals came all the way from Southeast Texas to protest the excessive spending and growing government intrusion by the 111th Congress and the new Obama administration,” Brady wrote. “These participants, whose tax dollars were used to create and maintain this public transit system, were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capital did not make a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit for them.”

A spokesman for Brady says that “there weren’t enough cars and there weren’t enough trains.” Brady tweeted as much from the Saturday march. “METRO did not prepare for Tea Party March! More stories. People couldn’t get on, missed start of march. I will demand answers from Metro,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brady says in his letter to Metro that overcrowding forced an 80-year-old woman and elderly veterans in wheelchairs to pay for cabs. He concludes that it “appears that Metro added no additional capacity to its regular weekend schedule.”
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Old Posted Sep 21, 2009, 2:32 PM
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Anacostia Streetcar Track Installation Begins (Washington Post)

Anacostia Streetcar Track Installation Begins

By James Hohmann
Washington Post
Sunday, September 20, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...091902291.html


Crews are finally laying the tracks for the Anacostia streetcar line in Southeast Washington, causing delays through the end of the year on South Capitol Street but exciting boosters of the $55 million project.

Track installation on Firth Sterling Avenue has begun, but the more visible installation of tracks at the South Capitol Street intersection is expected to start next week, the District's Department of Transportation said.

Through the end of this month, the track work will reduce traffic flow at the intersection to one lane in each direction, causing delays of five to 10 minutes. Other work will continue in that area through the end of the year.

The locations of several proposed stops along Howard Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE are not set in stone. But officials overseeing the project hail the work as a significant step toward the first segment of what they hope will become a citywide system a decade from now.

"The tracks are actually going in," said Gabe Klein, the District's director of transportation. "As people see that, they'll realize we're getting closer than we've ever been."

The District had hoped to have streetcars running through Anacostia by the end of this year, but the project was beset by delays. The city purchased three red-and-gray trolleys almost three years ago for $10 million. Those sit in a warehouse in the Czech Republic, where they were manufactured.

Streetcars, a form of light rail powered by overhead wires, share lanes with automobiles. Similar projects in Seattle and Portland are considered successes.

The initial 1 1/2 -mile segment includes a platform near the Navy Annex at South Capitol Street and Firth Sterling Avenue. Another platform is by Barry Farms on Firth Sterling Avenue. A maintenance facility is being built near the end of the line on South Capitol Street to service and store the trolleys.

Klein said the District might have some part of the Anacostia line running before fall 2012.

Late last month, the District closed two intersections to cross-traffic along H Street NE to install tracks for a separate streetcar line. Klein said his department decided to lay that track because other work was going on in the area.

Engineers still need to find a way to power the cars on H Street and find places for the streetcars to turn around, said transportation spokesman John Lisle. They also need to find a place to store and maintain the cars on that line.

The transportation director has a grand vision for streetcar lines across the District that fills in the gaps where Metrorail doesn't run and resurrects an elaborate system that existed a century ago. Klein acknowledges that in the current fiscal climate, with massive shortfalls and short-term demands for money, it's hard to get it moving.

"I know we're in a downturn right now, but these are decade-long projects," Klein said. "If we never thought ahead when we were in a downturn, we'd never get anywhere. We're building upon a lot of the work that's already been done."
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Old Posted Sep 22, 2009, 2:32 PM
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Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles gives itself more time to approve tax district

Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles gives itself more time to approve tax district

Washington Business Journal
Sarah Krouse
September 21, 2009

http://washington.bizjournals.com/wa..._deadline.html

The deadline for a petition to tax property owners to fund a portion of the Rail to Dulles has come and gone, leaving the number of stops along the silver line up in the air even longer.

The Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles, a nonprofit organization of property owners — including major area players such as Boston Properties, Brandywine Realty Trust, Corporate Office Properties Trust, The JBG Companies, Tishman Speyer and Vornado/Charles E. Smith — is circulating a petition to establish a tax district for property owners along the planned line.

Under the plan, property owners would tax themselves to pay for $330 million of Fairfax County’s $420 million Phase II share. This would allow the creation of three stops at Reston Town Center, Herndon at the Toll Road and Monroe Avenue and Route 28.

The tax district would last no longer than 50 years from its inception or 40 years from the first tax levy.

Rates would gradually increase from 5 cents per $100 of land value in 2010 by 5 cents each year until 2013. In 2013, the rate will plateau at 20 cents and stay in effect until all three proposed stations were operational.

WARD said the tax should not exceed 25 cents per $100 of land value.

In exchange for the tax, owners are safeguarded from downzoning and from higher transportation taxes on commercial land and will receive greater density for projects within the Dulles Corridor.

The group set a Sept. 18 deadline to collect signatures from 51 percent of the commercial, industrial, multi-family and hotel property owners, but has extended it...until they get the signatures.

Members are staying mum about the percentage of signatures they have secured because “it is constantly fluctuating.”

“We still have some time,” said Jeff Fairfield of Launders Charitable Trust. Fairfield has spearheaded the petition effort with Michael Cooper, senior vice president of Brandywine Realty Trust and Peter Johnson, senior vice president of Boston Properties.

If the district is not formed by the year’s end, the group said it will become increasingly difficult for Fairfax County to fund its portion of Phase II.

According to WARD, it is unlikely that the stations could be added after the line delivers in 2016.

A tax district for Phase I of the rail is already established and operational.
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Old Posted Oct 9, 2009, 8:14 PM
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Economy Slows Establishment of Tax District (Washington Post)

Economy Slows Establishment of Tax District
Move Would Help Fund Metro Extension to Dulles


By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 8, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...100603897.html

A less-than-stellar economic climate is delaying the creation of a special tax district in Fairfax County, officials say, a move needed to pay for the second part of Metro's planned extension to Dulles.

The Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles, a nonprofit group made up of Fairfax landowners, is trying to drum up support for the special tax district to help fund the 23-mile extension from a planned Wiehle Avenue station in Reston to Dulles International Airport and Route 772 in Loudoun County.

Members of the group had hoped to gather enough signatures by Sept. 18 but fell short, said Lee Fifer, general counsel for the alliance and a lawyer with the McLean firm McGuireWoods. To implement the district, the group needs support from either a majority of the affected landowners or from owners controlling a majority of the land in the area.

Fifer declined to disclose the percentage of landowners who have signed on, but he and Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), whose district includes Tysons Corner, said that the figure is close to the required 51 percent majority.

"It's very critical that we do this, given the implications for our business community, and I'm continuing to encourage this as an effective marriage between what we need as far as funding and the potential for future development," Hudgins said. "We're nearing the percentage. When you're dealing with a lot of signatures, you really get all sorts of landowners."

In a letter to landowners last month, the alliance said that if the district is not formed by the end of the year, funding for the extension would be in "jeopardy, making it very likely that three future rail stations . . . will never be built."

The alliance represents about 30 percent of the affected landowners. A handful of other businesses, represented by the nonprofit Dulles Corridor Users Group, have campaigned against the tax district, saying that the Metro extension is not cost-effective and that it would do little to ease gridlock.

Fifer said he is optimistic that the signatures will be collected by the end of the year. The alliance encouraged landowners to sign up by Tuesday, arguing that the Metro stations, once completed, would allow for increased density and development.

Fifer said a January start date for tax collection would be crucial, in that it would help build up cash reserves to pay down bonds once they were issued. "The sooner we start collecting, the easier it'll be to pay it off," he said.

The plan calls for an initial tax rate of 5 cents for each $100 of assessed value for commercial landowners. The tax rate would increase by 5 cents per year, to 20 cents per $100 of assessed value in 2013. Beyond that, the alliance says, the tax rate would remain below 25 cents.

The county's debt manager, Len Wales, said the $330 million in capital investments for the taxed landowners could reach more than twice that amount once interest rates are locked in. And Fairfax is expected to pitch in $90 million.

At least 51 percent of the commercial property owners in the proposed tax district, representing $8.4 billion in property values, must sign on before it can be approved. The petition also needs approval from the Herndon Town Council and Fairfax's Board of Supervisors.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Washington-based Coalition for Smarter Growth, said several landowners had expressed concern about the long walk for commuters from station platforms to nearby mixed-use developments. His group has recommended improvements to pedestrian overpasses at the stations, including air-conditioned walkways and automated "people-movers."

Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said that although the economic climate is "not ideal for this project," county officials are feeling "pretty positive about the funding mechanism to get rail to Dulles."
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2009, 4:08 PM
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The Transport Politic has a very interesting and thorough proposal for a new heavy rail line in Northern Virginia, along Route 7 and through Bailey's Crossroads and Columbia Pike.

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...core/#comments
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2009, 4:30 PM
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^ DC is on fire! Silver Line, 37-mile streetcar network, and now this?! It would be awesome to finally have rail access to Georgetown.
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Old Posted Nov 19, 2009, 5:32 PM
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TTpolitic's map is not a real proposal.
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  #53  
Old Posted Nov 19, 2009, 5:43 PM
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^ Oh, sorry. I didn't bother to read the article. But it's still nice to dream. I do it all the time in the case of LA's rail system.
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  #54  
Old Posted Dec 3, 2009, 4:40 PM
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Group seeks streetcars to help solve N.Va. transportation woes (Washington Post)

Group seeks streetcars to help solve N.Va. transportation woes


The Washington Post
December 3, 2009
Alcindor, Yamiche


A coalition aimed at building a streetcar network across Northern Virginia
held its first meeting Nov. 18.

The group, the Northern Virginia Streetcar Coalition, is made up of present
and former officials, developers and others. Its members say they hope that
traveling across the region will become easier and transportation will be more
accessible in the coming years.

"No one can solve transportation" by himself, said coalition member Timothy
B. Lovain, a former Alexandria City Council member. "We can all pull together to make progress."

The coalition wants to have streetcar service in Alexandria and Arlington and
Fairfax counties and have the systems connected throughout the jurisdictions. Supporters say streetcars would enhance the region's economic competitiveness.

Presenters at the Nov. 18 meeting said that streetcars would make traveling
short distances easier and help reduce congestion.

Dozens of people interested in learning about the coalition's plans gathered
for about two hours at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community
College. Alexandrians Delivering Smart Growth Around Metro Stations, a citywide coalition of neighborhood representatives and officials interested in
development, supports the streetcar proposal.

Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman (D) presented plans for
building a streetcar line along Columbia Pike. "This isn't just about
transportation," he said at the meeting. "This is about development-oriented
transit."

Activists, such as Stewart Schwartz from the Coalition for Smarter Growth,
presented a case for making streetcars and other forms of transportation
affordable.

Schwartz said communities must incorporate trains, buses or streetcars. "They don't exist in a vacuum," Schwartz said of the transit options.

Some at the meeting said they hope Alexandria's streetcars would run though
the Alexandria campus of NVCC, in addition to connecting various parts of
Virginia.

"We are excited to be a part of this new streetcar initiative," said Jim
McClellan, a history professor at the college, which he said "would be a logical destination on a streetcar route." He also said streetcars would be "a
convenient transit option for our students."

Alfredo Ramirez, an NVCC student, said streetcars would make his and other
students' lives easier. "I think it's a great idea," Ramirez said. "I know
students and many other people who would benefit."

The coalition has yet to determine the cost of the streetcar project and how
systems would be connected among the jurisdictions. Its members will continue to meet in the coming months.
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  #55  
Old Posted Dec 8, 2009, 4:00 PM
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Completed streetcar tracks on Benning Road, photos from DDOT's facebook page.











There are still no wires, as you can see. The city is working on legislation that will make them legal.
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  #56  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2009, 6:50 PM
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Self-tax allowed for N.Va. businesses to fund Metro stations

Self-tax allowed for N.Va. businesses to fund Metro stations

Kravitz, Derek
Washington Post
Tuesday, December 22, 2009; B03


Asking business owners to tax themselves is never an easy sell. Asking about three dozen Northern Virginia landowners to tax themselves $330 million could be seen as an unlikely, if not impossible, task.

But with cash-strapped Fairfax County looking to help pay its $850 million share of the second portion of the 23-mile Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, the landowners had a choice: Tax yourselves, or risk losing potentially profitable Metrorail stops in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a tax district in a special meeting Monday afternoon, after officials and business leaders worked for 5 1/2 years to rally support for the unusual self-taxing plan. The district will impose rates starting at 5 cents per $100 of assessed value next year and increase to 20 cents in 2013. The public funding provided by the landowners, who own about $8 billion worth of property on the western side of Dulles, will provide about $330 million for the project, which will extend from Wiehle Avenue in Reston and Tysons Corner to the airport and Route 772 in Loudoun County.

Fairfax County is to contribute $90 million for the rail stops, but officials are still debating how to pay for an additional $120 million needed for the three stations at Reston Parkway, Herndon and Route 28. Officials are looking at pulling money from a commercial and industrial tax already on the books in Fairfax or asking for more federal funds.

Despite the lingering financing questions, Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D) said the tax district's creation is a boon for transit-oriented development in the region.

"This has not been an easy road, but landowners knew if the tax district wasn't established, we could very well have an express lane to Tysons Corner," she said.

The plan crafted by the Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles, a nonprofit agency made up of the landowners, has been in the works since the group was created in June 2004. It includes several money-back safeguards for the property owners in the event the second phase of the project falls apart or is not funded by the federal government. Commercial property owners in the Tysons Corner area have agreed to a tax to pay for the project's first phase, from West Falls Church to Tysons Corner. Property owners in Reston and Herndon did not want to be included in the Tysons tax district and formed their own group.

Since October, an undisclosed number of additional landowners have signed onto the tax plan, bringing the percentage of landowners approving the tax to nearly 61 percent, said C. Lee Fifer, legal counsel to the Western Alliance for Rail to Dulles. With its creation Monday, the tax will be in place by the start of the next fiscal year July 1, allowing the county to build cash reserves that can be used to pay down bonds once they are issued.

Many of the landowners, Fifer said, are hopeful that the rail stops will bring with them opportunities for increased density and development. "To not have rail would hurt us in the long run," he said.

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), a former chairman of the Fairfax board who pushed for the project for nearly four years before being elected to Congress in 2008, said the funding plan, simply put, "is critical for bringing in rail, and all of the development and jobs it brings with it."

"There were a lot of pockmarks along the way but this was really the only way to do it," Connolly said.

The idea to create a special real estate tax first started with the Route 28 tax district to widen the highway. Property owners along the route, frustrated by the state's inability to fund the project, created a special tax district to help pay for the road improvements.

But in Reston and Herndon, Fifer's group struggled initially to get people to sign onto the tax plan. About 31 percent of the area's landowners agreed in principle to the tax district before the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority took control of the Metrorail project in 2006. At that point, the group essentially had to start collecting signatures from scratch.

"It was rigorous, to start when the economy is struggling as it has and to ask people to tax themselves when they're not sure of their positions or their company's position," Fifer said.

Critics of the tax district say it is yet another unneeded expense placed on area businesses. Christopher W. Walker, a venture capitalist who owns land in the affected area and serves as president of the Dulles Corridor Users Group, has campaigned against the tax district, saying the Metro extension is not cost-effective and would do little to ease gridlock.

"It would be much easier, and much cheaper, to have bus service, but the politicians just wanted to spend the big money on rail," said Walker, who is considering filing a lawsuit to block the tax district from collecting funds. "We're basically taxing people in the future without giving them a chance to weigh in on it."

An advisory board for the tax district will be created by Jan. 12.
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  #57  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2009, 6:51 PM
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Shuttles for Tysons Metro stations in Virginia need grants (Washington Post)

Shuttles for Tysons Metro stations in Virginia need grants

Hosh, Kafia
Washington Post
Tuesday, December 22, 2009; B03


When four new Metro stations open in Tysons Corner in 2013, Fairfax County plans to have a shuttle bus service ready to ferry riders among the Silver Line stations, office complexes and shopping malls.

But cash-strapped Fairfax has no money now to fund the proposed service. The county's silver lining could come in the form of $280 million in new federal grants dedicated to urban circulators such as streetcars and buses -- if Fairfax can compete successfully for the money.

The grants give priority to transit projects that support the redevelopment of communities into mixed-use, high-density areas. Those guidelines seem to be in line with Fairfax's draft blueprint for redeveloping Tysons into an urban epicenter with pedestrian-friendly streets surrounded by high-rise office and residential buildings.

"It looks like someone wrote [the guidelines] with Tysons in mind," said Clark Tyler, chairman of the county-appointed Tysons Land Use Task Force, a 37-member panel that helped draft the blueprint.

The grant program, which was announced this month, is open to state and local governments. Federal officials said they don't know how competitive the process will be until all applications are submitted by the Feb. 8 deadline.

Fairfax County officials, transit experts and developers agree that a shuttle service with frequent stops would encourage motorists in Tysons to ditch their cars for the rails, relieving congestion in the traffic-choked job center.

The proposed "Tysons Link" would consist of five routes, with each one connecting office complexes and residential areas to two Silver Line stations and retail and restaurant outlets. All of the routes would serve the Tysons Central 123 station. Four would also serve Tysons West, and one would also serve Tysons East.

Preliminary estimates from transit officials indicate that Fairfax needs $9 million to buy the new buses and $5.8 million annually to operate the service.

The county can vie for up to $25 million from a $130 million federal grant designated for urban circulator systems. It also can compete for a chunk of another $150 million allocated for the purchase, replacement or rehabilitation of buses and related equipment.

Kathy Ichter, Fairfax's transportation director, said the county considers all potential funding for its transit projects. But she said Fairfax is still studying the grant requirements to gauge whether the proposed shuttle bus service is eligible for federal money.

"If there is a match here for Tysons, we will be making a grant application," she said. "Tysons is one of our number one priorities."

Ichter cautioned that a federally funded shuttle service could become a cost burden for Fairfax. The county would be required to spend additional money to comply with federal regulations.

"If we take one federal dollar, that means the entire system is federalized and we'd have to go by all their rules," she said. "This is a huge cost implication."

Ichter said one option to bypass that cost burden would be to have the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority run the shuttle service on behalf of Fairfax. WMATA is partly funded and regulated by the federal government.

Ichter said the county has not finalized its cost estimates, but that it intends to have the bus service in place when the stations open in Tysons.

"People want to know exactly what we're running at the end of 2013," she said. "We're four years out. We are entering the phase where we need to be making the decisions about ordering the buses, exactly where the routes are, getting the finances in place, with the idea that when 2013 gets here we'll be ready to deliver."

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said a reliable shuttle service would give commuters an incentive to use transit instead of driving into Tysons.

"If an employee knows there will readily be a circulator available as they get off the Metrorail, and that the transfer is easy and quick to the circulator, they will be more likely to use it," he said.

The Tysons task force has proposed the idea of having landowners served by the bus routes fund the operation of the shuttle-bus service; in exchange, the county would increase density guidelines for the landowners' redevelopment projects. Task force members say the federal grant could help pay for the purchase of new buses, the first step in ensuring that the service is in place when the new Metro stations open.

"The worst thing that could happen is the first train come up and [disgorges] 300 people who stare into a parking lot," Tyler said.
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  #58  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2010, 8:38 PM
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Transit-oriented neighborhood planned for Tysons West (Washington Post)

Here's the link for project: http://tysonsdemo.com/#smart-growth


Source: http://tysonsdemo.com/imgs/image2_big.jpg


Source: http://tysonsdemo.com/imgs/image4_big.jpg


Source: http://tysonsdemo.com/imgs/image3_big.jpg


Source: http://tysonsdemo.com/imgs/image6_big.jpg

Transit-oriented neighborhood planned for Tysons West

By Kafia A. Hosh
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010; 1:21 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...id=dynamiclead

Plans are underway to transform a bland stretch of office and industrial parks in Tysons Corner into a bustling arts and entertainment district with high-rise corporate and residential buildings, restaurants and boutiques.

The Georgelas Group, a McLean-based developer, is planning Tysons' first transit-oriented neighborhood tied to one of four Silver Line Metrorail stations being built there. The proposed development is a 28-acre residential, office and retail complex centered around the Tysons West stop at Leesburg Pike and Spring Hill Road.

"This is a great opportunity for Tysons to transform," said Aaron Georgelas, the project's lead developer. "It's now time for us to grow around this transit system."

The proposal is based on Fairfax County's ambitious plan to redevelop car-focused Tysons from one of the region's most congested job centers into a network of eight urban neighborhoods, four of which would be designed around the new stations. The plan is going through the county approval process. In the meantime, Fairfax has developed criteria for a demonstration project that could serve as the first example of a transit-oriented community in Tysons.

A demonstration project "helps bring the concepts to life," said Walter L. Alcorn, chairman of the Fairfax Planning Commission's Tysons Committee. "We wanted to have a real site with a potential project that we could explore."

The Georgelas Group beat out two other area developers who submitted proposals for the project. The project, more than 5 million square feet in size, is divided into three neighborhoods connected by an urban street grid. A total of 14 buildings include two hotels and a mix of high-rise residential and office units, with retail and restaurants on the first floor. Courtyards, public parks and other open spaces are scattered throughout as a "green escape" from the urban atmosphere, Georgelas said.

The project would redevelop what is now a mishmash of establishments, such as low-rise car dealerships, an industrial office park and Georgelas's headquarters on Greensboro Drive.

Georgelas said the development would add nightlife to an otherwise dull business district. "Tysons shuts down at five o'clock, there's no place to go," he said. "The goal is to create a destination where there currently isn't one."

Georgelas is working with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to build the station entrance within the development. A glass-enclosed bridge would connect the entrance to elevated rail platforms on Leesburg Pike.

Construction could begin as soon as mid-2011. When the station opens in 2013, Metro riders will be greeted by the first phase of the project: a kiss-and-ride lane, grassy pavilion and a towering office building with retail stores and sidewalk cafes.

"You're dropped into the heart of this vibrant experience where you have things to do," Georgelas said.

The rest of the project would be phased in over time, depending on market demand. How the market turns out remains to be seen. But real estate analysts say one thing is certain: Metrorail will help drive demand for new development in Tysons, the country's 12th-largest business district.

"It will make the area more accessible, and access drives value," said Gregory H. Leisch, chief executive of Delta Associates, an Alexandria-based real estate research firm.

Tysons is expected to grow to include 200,000 workers and 100,000 residents by 2050. Fairfax officials anticipate that other mixed-use developments will pop up around the Metro stations.

The demonstration project "is reflective of what Tysons is becoming as a whole -- a community in which you can work, shop, play and live," said Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. "That's something that Tysons Corner has never been before."
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  #59  
Old Posted Jan 13, 2010, 10:42 PM
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Always good to hear about TODs!
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  #60  
Old Posted Jan 14, 2010, 3:41 AM
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kiss and ride lane... lol, love that term.
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