Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Does Dulles Rail Mean to the Region?

Here's a good article from yesterday's Fairfax Times that talks about life without rail. The Times says that while the eventual fate of the Dulles rail project still remains unclear, that Northern Virginia has been anticipating a rail extension to Dulles for 40 years and, with so much bureaucratic, economic and literal machinery working toward that end, a change in course is difficult to imagine.

"To county planners, and much of the general public, rail means fewer people in western Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun have to use their cars to go to work."
And of course the transportation impacts are huge, especially with the construction of the HOT lanes in Northern Virginia.

"At the nuts and bolts level, a failure to extend rail would also mean a change in direction for Metro infrastructure. Recently, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted not to build an additional parking structure at the Vienna Metro Station, citing the construction of the Dulles rail extension and the commuters it will pull from the Vienna station as a reason."

"Virginia's recent injection of NVTA funds into the Metro system was similarly part of the preparations for the Dulles extension. Without it, Metro's improvement of its infrastructure would take a different direction, and possibly be at a different priority level for local leaders."

And the Times addresses the potential economic impact of having or not having Dulles Rail, noting that without Dulles rail's effect on regional land use or the additional commuter options it would provide, companies will have fewerreasons to expand or relocate to this region, business leaders say.

"One of the reasons we picked this region was rail to Dulles," said Robert Waters, vice president of human resources with Northrop Grumman.

"However, to some, the Dulles rail extension doesn't mean quite as much. State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Centreville) has described the project as misuse of tax dollars, and believes it would negatively impact congestion in the region.

"And George Mason Economic analyst Stephen Fuller also downplays the rail extension's performance, saying that rail wouldn't have a great effect on the Dulles Corridor employment, at least in the short term. 'With Metro, a hot job market would be hotter, but just by a few degrees,' Fuller said."

What are your thoughts? Post below.

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