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Topic for Northern VA riders; Rails to Trails to Rails?(12 posts)

Topic for Northern VA riders; Rails to Trails to Rails?nova
Dec 19, 2002 2:54 PM

(Dr. Gridlock covers traffic and commuting issues in the Metro DC area.)

Thursday, December 19, 2002; Page LZ08
Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) trail is a nice bike path, but it is luxury we can no longer afford. Local officials should seriously consider buying the path and turning it into

a rail line again.

Start the line at Crystal City, run it along the path all the way to Purcellville in Loudoun County. It would be more beneficial than building a rail line out to Dulles along the toll road for several reasons:

• Smart growth. The trail goes through cities and towns not located along the Dulles Access Road.

• Areas such as Arlandria, Shirlington, Falls Church and Columbia Pike would see high-density development around their rail stations.

• This line would also serve as an alternative to the crowded Metro Orange Line, because it would serve a separate corridor.

The only real challenge to building a rail line is that there would have to be many crossings to separate it from traffic.

Northern Virginia, it is time to go back to making the W&OD a railroad again.

Alfred Regnery

It would not be necessary if ...Humma Hah
Dec 19, 2002 3:04 PM
... they build the Metro line up the existing right-of-way of the Dulles Access Road and the extension beyond Dulles, which has been on the drawing boards forever. That path so closely parallels the W&OD that there would be no point in duplicating it.

Otherwise, I'd say the writer has a good point. The W&OD is, in fact, a great commuter route, and I'd bet there are cyclists here who take it almost daily. It is, in fact, a very nice right-of-way, and I'm glad it was never done away with and chopped up irretreivably.
My wife works with Dr. Gridlocks wife, I'll make sure she getsPaul
Dec 20, 2002 3:56 AM
our inputs. The trail is the most widely used trail in the country (Post), over 3 million people use it. I wouldn't pay attention to some idiot who probably would like to drive his SUV down the trail also. Awhile back a supervisor wanted to ban cyclists from any road where the speed limit was 35 mph or greater. Seems the snobs in Middleburg were annoyed when coming across riders on the narrow roads up there. Needless to say, this never happen. As you probably know, W & OD Park Authority is spending a lot of money for overpasses, and expansion of the trail. They dropped $80,000 for lights at Church St. (non-riders thought this was a waste of money also), and recently put traffic lights in Leesburg along the trail.

A recent article in the Post said it would cost 4 billion for a rail line down the Dulles toll road (which by the way is foreign owned), and figured they wouldn't get the riders needed to pay for this. A bus route is the most feasabile at this time.

VA approves $4 billion for Dulles Rail, Bush admin. warnsPaul
Dec 20, 2002 4:06 AM
against it as too costly (today's Post). Oh well, least the W & OD will be sparded.
Only 3.3 billion ...Humma Hah
Dec 20, 2002 12:29 PM
... but why quibble over pocket change.

It will be June before the feds rule on the proposal. The study proposed will be a paltry $60 million. The bus advocates think they could get a system running by then for that amount.

On the same page of our local paper, the DC area has just been forced to downgrade its air quality status from something like "serious" to "really horrible." This disqualifies it from receiving federal highway money. No doubt this causes more backups and more pollution. Maybe it disqualifies VA from getting money for mass transit?

At least I'm doing MY part.
Dr. Gridlock is a Putzpmf1
Dec 20, 2002 11:15 AM
Dr. Gridlock is a car advocate who thinks the solution to all DC's traffic problems is building more roads. He constantly prints complaints about the metro, which is a pretty good system. I've never seen him write anything good about metro. Ditto on bike commuting. I recall it being described as "not a viable alternative" in one of his columns.

People living out in the sticks (Loudoun County) made a conscious decision to do so. They pay $300,000 for their new mini mansion and then discover it takes 75 minutes to drive to work, so now all of Northern VA should build them more roads or a new train system. Sorry, but not me. I voted against the transportation tax increase as did the majority of those in the area. I paid quite a bit more for a more modest 30 year old house near public transportation and the bike path for that reason.

Lastly the Orange line is crowded because metro doesn't run it at full capacity (not enough cars), not because we need a redundant line in place of the most heavily used park in the area.

This kind of thinking burns my butt.
Dec 20, 2002 1:24 PM
Interesting comment about metro. I would love to see them run more trains, but metro has found that they can run the trains at overflow capacity and ridership will not substantially decrease. They would not be as profitable if they ran more trains in order to relieve congestion. And metro is not cheap compared to other cities' rail systems.

What's the alternative? The govt chipping in and giving us a real cheap subway like Boston?
A favorite DC passtimepmf1
Dec 20, 2002 1:38 PM
Bitching about metro, that is.

Metro loses all their money on buses, not the train. More cars would be nice, but they're expensive and like you point out, won't increase ridership. If you were running the system would you buy more cars? Or put in a second line along the bikepath like that guy in the Dr. Gridlock column says we need?

Yeah, its a bit expensive, but so is driving in and parking. A carpool is the best way to go, but then you're tied down to a set schedule every day. My wife does it and doesn't seem to mind, but I've never been interested in carpooling.

I'm sure you can point to another city's "real" subway system, but basically, metro is not bad. Its clean, prompt, and safe. It ain't perfect, but its better than nothing.
W&OD a poor MUT...and future rail routepeter in NVA
Dec 20, 2002 2:50 PM
Its obvious "Dr" gridlock never really looked at it. There's hardly a section longer than a mile that doesn't require a road crossing. Imagine the traffic mess putting in rail crossings. Sounds like he's run out copy.
I love that trailpmf1
Dec 20, 2002 8:29 PM
Once you get beyond Reston, it really does hit some communities. I've been riding that trail for the last 10 years and it has really gotten developed -- especially in the last 3-4 years. God, there is even big developments next to it in Purcelville now.

Should it be used for a rail line? First, good luck on funding. Second, people really use it -- even way out there. Its a popular park.

I worry more about expanding I-66 inside the beltway. When I tell folks that I ride 16 miles each way to work in DC, they find it amazing -- but with a dedicated bike path like the W&OD, I spend only one mile each way with cars. If I-66 got wider, I'm not so sure what would happen to that key portion of the trail.
They would never replace the Custis trail...peter in NVA
Dec 21, 2002 2:28 PM
if they widened I-66. I have always enjoyed going into DC on it - sort of a clever use of what land was available.
I really got spoiled by the MUTs in LA, 40 miles from the mountains to the beach with no crossings at all.
thanks for the laughcyclopathic
Dec 20, 2002 9:38 PM
dude had never obviously been on trail. A good chunk of it (in and out beltway) runs either on sidewalk or under power lines on lend owned by PEPCO. There're at least 500 road crossing and in some places trail is less then 50 feet off houses and other private and public structures. No politician will even come close to this "proposal" unless he/she wants to commit suicide.