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Rally for Tysons Tunnel Tomorrow

The backers of the upstart proposal to put a Metrorail tunnel through Tysons will hold a rally on Saturday, ending what they see as an encouraging week for their cause.

The rally is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at The Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna. You can find more information about it at TysonsTunnel.org, where it's never over till it's under.

The optimism stems from statements made this week by Federal Transit Administration officials indicating that Virginia is not up against an imminent deadline for submitting it's final plan for the rail extension through Tysons. In fact, the feds said, the state has until spring of 2008.

This is the goal for the Saturday event, according to the tunnel advocates:

"During the rally, attendees will be updated on the benefits of competitive bidding for construction of a tunnel under Tysons Corner as opposed to the current plan to sole-source construction of elevated-rail through the growing
business, residential, and shopping district. These benefits include significant taxpayer cost-savings, considerable construction time-savings and a massive reduction of traffic-inducing construction impacts."

Just about everybody in Virginia who cares about this would prefer a tunnel. Metro also would prefer a tunnel, which will be cheaper to maintain after the transit authority takes over operations in 2012. But I'm less optimistic than the tunnel advocates and worried about the consequences of failure. The Northern Virginia congressmen who have worked hardest to secure the $900 million in federal funding required to build any rail line through Tysons remain fearful of risking the entire enterprise on a change in plans.

Tysons needs that rail line. It's already a mess. With all that new residential and office construction planned for the next decade, it's hard to imagine how the place would function without a transit system. Even then, it's going to be tough.

That said, it's easy to see why tunnel advocates want to push all the buttons available to their cause. The construction of an elevated along Routes 123 and 7, while the office and residential building is going on and new new express toll lanes are being built along the Beltway will gum up Tysons for at least the next half decade. Here's a link to a Post graphic that maps the upcoming work.

By Robert Thomson  |  February 9, 2007; 8:35 AM ET
Categories:  Construction  
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