There has been a lot of news happening in Tysons regarding high-rises, major rezonings, and new businesses and restaurants moving in. Because of all the attention that renderings and tower cranes get, we often forget about the less visible aspects of what goes into converting Tysons into a true urban community. The planning process didn’t terminate in 2010 with the approval of the Comprehensive Plan, the hard work continues at refining and providing definition to the many embryonic elements within the document.
The County has been in the process of a two year public input and study period to determine what modifications are needed to the Tysons Comprehensive Plan. This has included three phases of amendment discussion, largely focusing on individual components — such as transportation, recreation, traffic or public facilities — with several public meetings and input periods for comments and recommendations. This process is now nearing its end and the recommendations by staff and the public are starting to become more formulated and resulting in some interesting concepts.
The most impressive modification to the plan, which I think many people will celebrate, is the concept of the Metrorail Green Artery, a network of linear parks underneath the Silver Line aerial tracks, which will provide a cyclist and pedestrian haven to get from one portion of Tysons to another. The Tysons Park System Concept Plan says:
“The underutilized spaces beneath the elevated line could be enhanced to create attractive and functional spaces for people and could be connected as a Green Artery to link the four stations with a pedestrian and bicycle path weaving under and along the Silver Line. This path could serve as an organizing feature for a variety of amenities including rain gardens, public art, entertainment spaces, parks, or pop-up retail. These uses might be themed by station. In some instances the path could be elevated from the ground to avoid conflicts with motor vehicles and create interesting experiences and views. The Green Artery should also be designed to connect to other planned and existing pedestrian networks.
“In addition, each of the station areas should be distinct from the surrounding areas, showcasing high quality and innovative design. Key to the success of the station areas is to create safe and comfortable multi-modal connections between each TOD neighborhood and the transit function of the stations themselves. Additionally, because the Silver Line occupies space alongside and in the median of two busy arterial streets, significantly enhanced pedestrian and bicycle connections will be important at the road intersections below the stations. Station areas could be distinguished as “people places” where vehicles must slow down and defer to pedestrians and bicyclists. Design concepts that use different pavement materials, special crosswalks and signal timing, landscaping, lighting, sculpture and/or canopies along Routes 7 and 123 would cue vehicles to slow down and indicate that station areas are special places for people.”
All of the above sounds great and really is heading in the right direction. These concepts of varying pavement to provide indication to vehicles about priority to pedestrians, additional facilities, and really creating a sense of place that will draw people to use this mode of travel is critical to success — as much so as proper signal timing which I am very encouraged to see discussed as well.
Some good renderings of the concept are also being fleshed out. All I want to know is how quick can we get this started, and can that process be accelerated by crowd sourcing the civic community to join in on the transformation?