This is my reply to Washington Post commentary entitled, Why Going Underground Makes Sense in Tysons Corner.
I have seen the full set of design documents — a whopping 786 sheets of drawings, a dozen technical reports, cost estimates. They are comprehensive and compelling.
So you really read 786 sheets? Or just glanced through them. If you did thumbed through them how can you claim they prove a underground option would be cheaper?
Entailing almost totally underground construction, the tunnel option would be cleaner and much less disruptive of life above ground. Building an elevated line would require major road reconfiguration and bring years of severe traffic congestion exacerbated by construction trucks continually rolling through the heart of Tysons, along with construction noise and increased air pollution.
Fairfax County approved a transit orineted design propasal, which will certaintly mean more development along the rail line. During the same peroid of rail construction disruption, new buildings will also disrupt traffic.
But immediate and long-term aesthetic benefits still constitute one of the best arguments in favor of the tunnel and against an elevated line. Visualize a parade of tall, structural supports soaring over and slicing through the heart of Tysons. Leesburg Pike would never become a walkable boulevard.
Alexandria has elevated portions of Metro rail, still intact and used. Those stations also have little parking (30 metered spots)… which means most people come by walking or bus. The bus is a valid form of mass transit, so to support an argument for aesthics by claiming hostility to mass transit is stupid. About the only point I can agrea about is above ground rail will be more ugly.
Why build something that we will want to tear down a few decades from now?
Because right now the goal is to get Metro out to Dulles. Later on additions and changes can be made, including a tunnel option.