Halpin Keeps Fighting for the Tysons Tunnel

From Alec MacGillis with the Washington Post:

WestGroup, the biggest landowner at Tysons Corner, has urged Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) to reconsider his rejection of an underground rail route through Tysons, saying a tunnel should be explored further at the same time as plans for an elevated track proceed.

In a letter to Kaine, WestGroup chairman and chief executive Gerald T. Halpin said he was “extremely disappointed” by Kaine’s “stunning reversal of direction” against a tunnel. On Wednesday, Kaine ruled out a tunnel for the four-mile Tysons stretch of the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, after federal officials made it clear that switching to a tunnel would imperil the entire 23-mile, $4 billion project….

Halpin, one of the founders of Tysons Corner, wrote Kaine yesterday that the price of the project with an elevated track is sure to increase with time. Why not, he said, proceed with those plans but at the same time put a tunnel out to bid, to get a firmer price with which to compare designs? This would take only half a year and would cost no more than $7 million, which could be paid for by the private sector, Halpin said.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the way federal rules and deadlines are stampeding the Commonwealth into making critical decisions about the Rail to Dulles project. How much money are the feds contributing? About $1 billion of a $4 billion project? That money can’t be raised any other way? I’m feeling worse and worse about the way this project is unfolding.

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4 responses to “Halpin Keeps Fighting for the Tysons Tunnel”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Give the guy credit. Turning down a billion dollars is not for the faint of heart. It will be interesting if Kaine and company tell him – “show us how we get the 4 billion – and we might talk”.

    It wouldn’t be the first time that a State or a Region turned down money with strings to do their own thing.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    I suspect that West Group is taking the position that Congress should override the cost/benefit formula for some. West Group would probabably be willing to push the business community to pay more than their $400 M cap that was previously negotiated. Why not, West Group pays a little, but gains most of the land use benefits.

    Then, of course, there are the Dulles Toll Road users. They are a great target, as are residential and small business taxpayers as backup.

    Hopefully, the Virginia Congressional delegation will say “no” to a pass on the cost/benefit standards. The best thing that Tim Kaine could do would be to revisist the location of Metrorail, moving it away from Routes 123 and 7, back to the Toll Road median. Alternatively, he should decide to revisit Bus Rapid Transit. We could build several BRT systems for the price of one Silver Line.

    There would probably be enough money to construst BRT in the South County to handle some of the BRAC traffic, as well as traffic from the Dulles Corridor.

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    FYI – from this morning’s Daily Press…

    Headline: “Long road ahead for transportation” (article describing Tidewater Regional Approaches to Transportation).

    .. but down in the article:

    “Northern Virginia lawmakers are preparing a self-help transportation proposal for that region.”

    What I am particularily struck by.. in this Blog and in the overall dialogue with respect to NoVA… is not only a lack of consensus overall about transportation modes.. but when/where/how to build them.

    Tidewaters.. seems to have a list of what they’d like to pursue.. but I’m not sure I see a similar list from NoVa at least in terms of public discussions… what I mostly hear is what they do not want.

    Am I mistaken about this?

  4. I think the idea is to have Rail to Dulles, not rail to Tysons. Rail to Dulles makes sense because of the Interconnection of transportation systems it affords. Rail to Tysons makes no sense for all the reasons TMT has listed.

    Build the Rail to Dulles the cheapest way, and then if the Landownwers in Tysons want to play, they can build spurs and additional stations. That way everyone traveling from Dulles to DC doesn’t have to get waylaid on four extra stops, and the Landowners pay for what they get.

    What happens to the existing residents is another matter.

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