This past Thursday, July 7th, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission gave unanimous approval to the proposed 11 mile bus-rapid-transit proposal between Tysons and Alexandria. The $250 million investment will help further mobilize the economic heart of Fairfax in Tysons with the heavily populated Route 7 corridor which includes Falls Church, Baileys Crossroads, and Alexandria.
Route 7 has been crippled by traffic for years, and widening roads in Tysons and Alexandria had hit a finite limit given the existing constraints at Seven Corners and Falls Church. Planners have a tough task ahead of them in balancing the constraints of the corridor with gaining a functional and useful rapid transit system that can save commuters time without getting stuck in the same traffic they seek to solve.
Now that the project has gained concurrence from the regional commission regarding its merits, it now moves forward on its next steps of determining a financing structure, determining what transportation grants and state funding may be possible, and ultimately approaching local jurisdictions and authorities on an organizational structure and management concept. This may seem simple but because of the multiple counties/cities involved, getting consensus on cost sharing and oversight is a process that can take significant time.
The good news is, once parties have agreed on all of the above, the construction process itself should be quicker and more straight forward than the alternative option of light rail which was also reviewed, and hopefully could be implemented within 18 months of initiation.
No word yet on how the project will deal with existing physical constraints, some of which we mentioned on our prior review of the proposal. Hopefully more developed plans will be forthcoming now that the commission has agreed that this project should move forward.