Sunday, April 24, 2011

NOVA commuters - Watch the Dulles underground station debate very closely

plan_view of Dulles airport Station
If you are a regular commuter on the Dulles Toll Road and Route 267 to Leesburg you should be paying attention to the debate underground or overground. The budget debate affects you even if you are probably not going to the airport by metro.

To Build the station underground or not,  is a $300 Million question 
The Virginia transportation secretary said tolls would increase as a result of the decision, and the state would not tolerate it.
Reason for building underground and incurring these costs:
  • "Better for baggage-laden travelers, who will not have to trek 1,150 feet to an aboveground station to stand in steamy Washington summers or icy winter winds (http://goo.gl/1WrPA)"
  • "Preserves the architectural vision of the masterful Eero Saarinen that has made Dulles a design icon worldwide"
  • People will not use the metro ( 5000 riders a day)
The alternative is an aerial station in front of Parking Garage 1 across from the Main Terminal.
When i drive to the Washington Dulles Airport my favorite parking spot is Garage 1. I do not wait for the bus but use the already existing underground tunnel to get to the terminal. I think the difference is about 2 minutes between having the station underground or overground.
Takeaway :
As a user of the Dulles Toll Road and a frequent user of the Dulles Airport my vote is for saving $300 Million and building the station overground ( see National and BWI) for examples. When I leave for India ( I visit frequently ) we have enough baggage that would prevent us from taking the metro anyway so we won’t be affected whether the station is underground or overground.
Since to get to the silverline I have to go into DC and then change to the orange line which increases the time by over 1 hour. The silverline will be a boon for light luggage travelers from DC and other stations along the orange line and I doubth they would change their mind if the station was overground.
In other news if you want to go from Gaithersburg  ( Montgomery County) to BWI Airport (  or BWI airport to Gaithersburg) for $5 check this new ICC bus route http://www.mtaiccbus.com/route201.html#mapsa

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