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Goal: Keep Tysons moving

But will that be possible as the 2010 construction season cranks into maximum overdrive this spring? On Wednesday morning, Tysons employers came to the Capital One auditorium just inside the Beltway on Route 123 to get a briefing from construction managers about whether their employees, clients and customers will be able to reach Tysons Corner.

What got my attention is that the officials working on the Virginia Megaprojects -- the Metrorail extension and the High Occupancy Toll lanes -- all wanted to use analogies that involve breaking eggs to make omeletes.

In other eras, the officials would want to gloss over the pain part and focus on the gain. But the Megaprojects managers are quite upfront in telling us all that the spring, summer and fall -- especially the fall -- are going to be difficult in Tysons.

Here's the basic idea of what will happen as two of the biggest transportation projects in the country get built right next to each other in Tysons.

Spring 2010-2011
Dulles Metrorail. Elevated line and station construction around the junction of Routes 123 and 267. Southbound right lane closed for two years on Route 123. Rout 7 will be widened between Routes 123 and 267. The service roads on Route 7 will be completely closed and mid-block turns eliminated as the rail line and two stations rise in the median. Anticipate traffic delays of 10 to 19 minutes.

Summer-fall 2010
HOT lanes/Metrorail. The outer loop at Route 123 will be shifted onto the new bridge now under construction. The old outer loop bridge over Route 123 will be demolished during one weekend. Metrorail piers will be built to support the elevated line over the Beltway. The left lanes of Route 123 will be closed for up to two years. The widening of the Westpark Bridge will be completed. Expect delays in the 10 to 19 minute range.

Summer 2010
HOT lanes. Route 7 traffic will shift to a new Beltway bridge. The old eastbound bridge will be demolished and rebuilt. Expect delays of 10 minutes or less.

Fall 2010-2012
HOT lanes/Metrorail. The inner loop will be shifted onto a new bridge. The old inner loop bridge will be demolished over one weekend. New inner and outer loop bridges will be completed, as will the Metrorail line over the Beltway. Delays will worsen to 20 minutes or more.

That's just what's going on right in Tysons. Many of the 100,000 people who work there have to travel through other work zones for the projects just to reach the Tysons work zones each day.

This is something we'll pay a lot of attention to this year, and we'll try to offer some ways of easing the pain. For example, a new commuter express bus service between Loudoun County and Tysons is scheduled to start June 21. And the Tysons Express from Prince William County, which started late last year, will continue to charge half-price fares until July 2.

By Robert Thomson  |  April 14, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Congestion , Construction , Driving  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Megaprojects, Tysons  
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