RELEASE: The Silver Line Will Transform Land Use in Northern Virginia – A Smart Growth Win Bringing Benefits for the Environment, Commuters, and Economy

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2014 

Stewart Schwartz, CSG, 703-599-6437 (cell)
Chris Miller, PEC, 540-347-2334
Stella Koch, ANS, 703-628-6983

FAIRFAX, VA — “The opening of the Silver Line on Saturday, July 26, is important for many reasons, but none more important than how it will transform land use in Northern Virginia,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of 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.”

 Fairfax drew from the successful experience of Arlington County when creating the transit-oriented development plan for Tysons.  As a result of Arlington County’s award-winning smart growth planning for their Metro corridors traffic has declined 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 over 50 percent of Arlington’s tax base on just 11 percent of the county’s land area.

 “Fairfax Chairman Bulova has said that transit-oriented development is the future of Fairfax. In addition, the region as a whole — in the Region Forward plan — has committed to TOD as the most sustainable way to grow,” said Rick Keller, Transportation Vice-Chair for the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.  “Investing in high-capacity transit like the Silver Line, along with walking and bicycling-friendly transit-oriented development will reduce regional air pollution and the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing increasingly destructive climate change.”

 “Tysons is also a great water-quality story,” said Stella Koch, Northern Virginia Conservation Associate for the Audubon Naturalist Society and member of the Tysons Task Force which negotiated the initial Tysons plan.  “Tysons today is dominated by buildings and parking lots with minimal control of stormwater and that stormwater gouges-out and pollutes area streams and the Potomac River.  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% of the typical rain events.”

 “We see great benefits for commuters and the opportunity for an economic win-win for Loudoun County and the region,” said Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council.  “The limited east-west commuter roads in Loudoun require investment in high-capacity transit as an effective alternative to sitting in traffic.  Moreover, by meeting the demand to live and work near transit, Fairfax and Loudoun will fuel economic growth while correspondingly allowing for the rural economy to be protected and flourish with new local food production, access to recreation, and protection of our water recharge areas.”

“Our organizations have 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,” said Schwartz.  “Looking ahead, we will continue to campaign for well-designed mixed-use development at underutilized Metro stations in every jurisdiction and for smart new transit investments in key commercial corridors tied to walkable, mixed-used development.  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.”

Walkable, transit-oriented development is in demand from millenials, downsizing empty nesters, retirees and corporate leaders.  Currently, developers can’t build enough residential units near transit to meet demand leading to affordability challenges.  Meanwhile, 84% of new office development in the pipeline in the DC region is being built within 1/4 mile of a Metro station.