Obviously the most annoying part of this story, on the Silver Line’s difficulties in obtaining FTA approval, is the Bush administration’s incredible knack for ruining everything, everywhere, all the time. It continues to bug me, though, that while Fairfax County is doing right in trying to increase its transit connectivity, it doesn’t seem to give the slightest thought to how its actions affect the rest of the system.
At the end of the Post story, Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly muses on where transit expansion should go next. First up, he says, is the I-66 corridor. Money has been appropriated to study Bus Rapid Transit there, but it’s entirely possible that an Orange Line extension will enter the discussion. Plus, Connolly notes, the Blue Line should totally go to Fort Belvoir. Which is true, but doesn’t Connolly realize that when a Blue or Orange (or Silver) Line train leaves Fairfax County, it enters someplace else? And what it enters that someplace else, new tunnels and bridges don’t magically appear to handle all the extra traffic?
WMATA is already panicked trying to figure out how to get new trains across the river without bogging the whole system down. It’s great that Tysons is going to get Metro, but I’m sure some of the riders in Orange Line cattlecars backed up underneath the Potomac will wonder what’s in it for them. If Fairfax is committed to expanding transit, it needs to understand that some contribution needs to be made to making the rest of the system hold up under the strain. At the very least, Fairfax ought to be talking about a new river crossing, but really, it’s probably going to take a new crosstown route to handle the traffic. Residents of other jurisdictions served by Metro, and particularly the District, Alexandria and Arlington, who’ll feel the effects of new Fairfaxian Metro riders most, should demand that conversations about metro expansion include serious consideration of the possibility of constructing a separate Blue Line.