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Concept for Another 495 Crossing

With the construction of the greatly needed and anticipated Jones Branch Connector begun, it may seem like an odd time to conceptualize another crossing of 495. However, big projects take a lot of forethought and consideration, and although another crossing may not be necessary in the next few years, eventually further connection improvements to Tysons East will be needed.

We’ve previously discussed the Jones Branch Connector, a critical traffic improvement to Tysons. We’ve noted some elements of the project which may keep pedestrians and cyclists away. In fairness to the plans, the crossing is a difficult one, not just at the regular very wide 495 road section, but also where the HOT lanes have individual ramps for connection, making it extra long. If adequate facilities and consideration for pedestrians and others is provided, the project could still be a big deal for walkability.

A recent study by Wells & Associates shows just how bad walkability is between these two very geographically close regions of Tysons. To get from Tysons Corner Station to McLean station legally (ie on a provided sidewalk) would require 63 minutes (going all the way into the Great Falls / McLean border). Keep in mind they are separated by less than a mile. So even the bare accommodation and some climate consideration would likely encourage more on foot traffic.

In five years, after the Jones Branch Connector has been in place, there will likely be some further desire to connect to all the new projects popping up at Tysons East, like plans for the future Wegmans. Crossing 495 at a short segment in the future will further interweave the needed road grid, and make it easier for pedestrians to get around. This could be timed and phased at the same time as redevelopment plans at what will be the over 40 year old Hilton Hotel.

The company by that time may be interested in developing the currently almost always empty back parking lot with structural parking and possible redevelopment instead. A 1/2 mile distance to metro would be the result of a new short road crossing to Dolley Madison Boulevard, therefore the allowable density of the parcel would allow for nearly 1 million square feet of additional space. Residential is not likely to be the most appropriate use for such a location (close to 495), but by that time the office market could very well need more office space. Given the proximity to Capital One’s headquarters there could be many collaborating industries seeking close co-location to a major financial. Keep in mind the tech venture capital market in Tysons and the DC area as a whole has been rising as fast as any other industry in the region.

It’s easy to build and forget to plan for the future, but Tysons needs more than just one project to solve the lack of road grid. This particular location would have plenty of constraints to consider as well, including the on and off-ramps to 495 along Dolley Madison, and how to make these functional while still making a crossing friendly to non-vehicles. Thinking about these issues early will guide a common vision of how to use market forces and private interest to logically layout future public infrastructure.

  • Levi Luckenbach

    It would be really cool if Hilton Worldwide constructed a beautiful skyscraper on that parking lot as a new world headquarters. Their current mid rise headquarters doesn’t fit a company of such magnitude. Along with the new Capital One headquarters, Tysons would have two Fortune 500 companies with world headquarters occupying massive skyscrapers, directly flanking I-495. Talk about a perfect “gateway” experience driving into the new city.

    • Freeway

      Let us hope it cracks 1000 feet. That would be ground breaking in the DMV. But definitely not something that will happen, not for decades at least.

  • Jon May

    After the Jones Branch connector I think the next most important connection needs to be completion of the Westpark connector over 495 in advance of any of the construction that has been approved for Scotts Run. I don’t understand why the county approved that plan without the inclusion of a connection to the Westpark connector.

    • I don’t think we’ll ever have that. The project planned for where the extension would drop in is a residential development and a sports field. To bring the road over you would have to get rid of the sports field and the road would bisect the neighborhood. To make that connection work there really needs to be a different development on that parcel. Ironically, the existing Old Meadow Ln would make more sense to connect up.. Also, until there is a usable connection between Old Meadow Rd and Magarity,

      I’m not sure I see a lot of utility to having this connection. Will there be that much demand for a route between Scotts Run South and Tysons Corner Center that stays off of Dolley Madison/Chain Bridge?

    • TheTysonsCorner

      This thread of commenting is really interesting. I would agree that some how that side of Tysons should tie to the southwest quadrant better. Will look into it and see if there is a location that makes sense. I do concur that this path was one shown in the comp plan, but as below comment states, the redevelopment and this constant beratement of needing more rec fields (by the way, there’s a perfectly good one thats underused literally 1/2mi from the one shown in the image below) is sometimes in the face of good urbanism. Yes people need good rec fields and things, but they also need good connectivity in their city.

  • Eric Youngdale

    At what point would it just make more sense to deck over the beltway in Tysons?

    • Freeway

      I envisioned 495 being a tunnel under Tysons much like 395 under parts of DC. 495 is really a barrier to giving Tysons a true city feel. Of course that would cost a fortune and take forever to construct. One way to mitigate this issue is what is discussed in this article. Construct as many connections as possible for both pedestrians and vehicles.

  • Asaf Reich

    It totally drives me crazy how ridiculous it is that McLean and Tysons Corner stations are a mile apart but you can’t walk between them. But frankly, the cheapest, quickest, and most logical way to connect east Tysons with all the retail and activity that already exists in the central area would be to just add sidewalks on Rt 123. We’ve already spent who knows how many millions raising the beltway over these areas…do we really need to spend another hundreds of millions of dollars and several years more when we already have a road wider than many interstates? The median is useless anyway, just narrow that or the lanes and there’s plenty of space for sidewalks the whole way from McLean through tysons.

    • Freeway

      Tysons needs a well-funded planning commission independent of Fairfax County. Every new public infrastructure project in Tysons looks like it could belong in suburban Fairfax or Springfield. Notice how Arlington has well lit LED roads and distinct looking bridges and the like. Tysons should be no different in having a distinctive appearance.

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