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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Silver Line extends Metro to Tysons Corner and Reston

The Silver Line pulls into the Whiele-Reston East Metro Station on opening day.

“Hallelujah, this day has come,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly at a ceremony July 26 marking the opening of the first phase of Metrorail’s Silver Line. That statement described the attitude of many of the local, state, and federal officials who gathered at the brand-new Whiele-Reston East Metro Station.

Speaker after speaker called the Silver Line transformative and a game-changer that will spur economic investment throughout the region.

The last stop on the Silver Line, until Phase 2 is completed.
Phase 1 adds 11.7 miles and five stations to the Metrorail system. The other new stations are McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, and Spring Hill. The Silver Line joins the Orange Line between the East Falls Church and West Falls Church stations—providing an easier route to jobs, sports events, and tourist attractions throughout the region.

Phase 2, extending the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County via six additional stations, is expected to open in 2018.

Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova, Rep. Gerry Connolly, and Gov. Terry McAuliffe talk to the media.
Connolly, the former chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said he’s been working on getting Metro to Dulles for the past 19 years, a process that’s taken vision, passion, persistence, and patience.

The Silver Line is not just a transportation project, said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova. “It a major transformational economic development initiative.” Much of that is evident as the Silver Line passes by numerous construction projects underway in Tysons Corner.

The new Tysons Corner Station is next to the shopping mall.
According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, the Silver Line is generating more than $1 billion in private investments along the corridor.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the $5.6 billion expansion of Metro “the biggest and most complicated” transportation project in the world. He cited other state-funded transportation projects in the works, including a new $2-3 billion investment to add new lanes on Route 66 outside the beltway and $65 million for the Columbia Pike Streetcar project.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray lauded the Silver Line for spurring economic development and tourism, while also promoting environmental sustainability by getting people out of their cars.

Rep. Jim Moran takes a ride on the Silver Line.
It costs $5.90—the maximum fare—during peak community times times to get from Reston to Rosslyn and anywhere beyond. Silver Line trains are scheduled to run every six minutes during rush hour; every 12 minutes during midday, evenings, and weekends; and every 20 minutes during late-night hours.

According to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), adjustments to Metro service due to the Silver Line are expected to result in shorter wait times for 37 percent of Metro riders and slightly longer wait times for 10 percent of riders.

One important feature in the new stations—easy-to-find public restrooms.

The Silver Line is the largest expansion of Metrorail since the Green Line opened in 1991. It is expected to carry 50,000 trips every day to or from the five new stations after the first year of service.

The Silver Line almost didn’t happen, said Bulova, as the project faced numerous controversies, challenges, and “near death experiences.” Among the obstacles: the creation of and near collapse of two special tax districts, lawsuits, the contentious selection of a construction company, the uncertainty of federal funding, and conflicts late in the game over whether the Silver Line should be redesigned and built underground. A series of last-minute glitches delayed the opening for months.

Commuters are also expected to face some adjustments to the new system, including more crowding on Orange Line trains, changes in bus service, and insufficient parking at the new stations.

The view from the new Spring Hill Station on Route 7.
Among the other public officials who spoke at the ceremony: Rep. Frank Wolf, Rep. Jim Moran, Del. Kenneth Plum, WMATA board chair Tom Downs, WMATA General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles,  WMATA board member and Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board member Tom Davis.

Many other current and former public officials and business leaders were in the audience, including Robert Simon, the 100-year-old founder of Reston.
The Tyson Corner Station straddles Chain Bridge Road.

1 comment:

  1. To get Annandale focused - I am told that the 401/402 buses, which connect Annandale to Tysons and the SL (as well as several places in between) increased their weekday frequency from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes. Can you confirm this with FCDOT, and discuss the implications for transit in Annandale?