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Transit Developments Today

From Dr. Gridlock: There should be some interesting developments today on two transit issues: One is the testing of new Metrorail car configurations and the other is that report to Virginia state government on whether to build a rail tunnel through Tysons.

I'm planning to check out Metro's preview of the rail car test, and I'll talk about that at 1 p.m. in a Live Online discussion.

But if you happen to be in the neighborhood of the Reagan National Airport Station, Metro also is inviting the public to check out the new designs. Metro says two new things will be on display:
-- A remodeled interior layout of an existing rail car featuring bench seating, more grab bars, and an open floor area to accommodate more passengers. (Metro will test this out on passengers and study their reactions. The issue is whether the bench seating design improves the flow of riders through the car.
-- Also on display will be the interior layout of the newest 6000 series rail cars. The interior is different from all of the other models because there will poles from the backs of seats to the ceiling but no floor-to-ceiling poles. Also, there will be some wall grab bars. Metro expects to have this type of car in service this summer.

So you can see all this at the station between 9:30 and 12:30 a.m. today at the station.

Then at 2 p.m., a panel of experts convened by the Virginia state government will make public its recommendations on whether the new rail line through Tysons Corner should be elevated or in a tunnel. Alec MacGillis, who covers development issues for The Post wrote a story about this in Saturday's paper. Alec learned that the experts are going to strongly recommend a tunnel, but the study won't be unveiled until this afternoon, when we'll learn what their reasoning is.

A tunnel is what many leaders in Northern Virginia would prefer, but the problem is that engineers who have been working on the Rail to Dulles project say a tunnel would be prohibitively expensive. That could be problem when the Feds review it. If they decide the cost of the project exceeds the potential benefit to travelers, there may be no federal money. The total cost of the 23-mile line from around the East Falls Church Station to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County is estimated at $4 billion, which would make it one of the most expensive public works projects in the nation. The portion of the line that would go through Tysons is just the first phase.

By the way, Lena Sun also had an interesting story in Saturday's paper about the problems plaguing Metro's effort to rehab its older rail cars.

By Robert Thomson  |  July 31, 2006; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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