Metro’s Silver Line opens

The opening of Metro’s Silver Line will transform land use in Northern Virginia, according to the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “That transformation will be most prominent in Tysons where a traffic-choked, suburban office park with two large malls is planned to become a walkable, urban center with 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs, but it will also be seen in Reston, Herndon and Loudoun,” said the group’s Executive Director, Stewart Schwartz.

In fact, 84 percent of new office development in the pipeline in the Washington, D.C. region is being built within a quarter mile of a Metro station, the group said in a press release.

Fairfax drew from the successful experience of Arlington County when creating the transit-oriented development (TOD) plan for Tysons.  According to the coalition, Arlington County’s smart growth planning for its Metro corridors brought a decline in traffic on surrounding arterial streets even as millions of square feet of development and thousands of housing units have been added.  The TOD corridors also generate more than 50 percent of Arlington’s tax base on just 11 percent of the county’s land area.

The new Tysons development also will improve water quality, Stella Koch, Northern Virginia conservation associate for the Audubon Naturalist Society, said in a statement.  “We achieved a win-win in Tysons where developers will construct millions of square feet of development while providing levels of stormwater management we’ve never had — controlling the first 1 inch of stormwater, representing 90 percent of the typical rain events,” added Koch, a member of the Tysons Task Force, which negotiated the initial Tysons plan.

Schwartz noted that many organizations worked for over 25 years to promote a regional vision of transit and transit-oriented development. “So the opening of the first phase of the Silver Line and the accompanying redevelopment at these first five stations represents an important smart growth milestone,” he said. “This is simply the most efficient way to grow and enhance our quality of life, by managing traffic, reducing air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and meeting overwhelming market demand for walkable, transit-accessible neighborhoods.”

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