Nearly four months ago, two of the major Tysons-area neighborhood and civic associations rallied against a proposal to put a highway ramp through one of the "last standing green spaces" in what will become Fairfax County's future urban center.
Now, the groups and more than 15 others are out to prove the option should have never been considered in the first place — and they aren't going down without a fight.
The groups, united under the name Tysons Forest Coalition, have 574 signatures on a petition opposing ramps and road extensions through the stream valley tucked in the pocket between Route 7 and the Dulles Toll Road. They're hoping for hundreds more.
Putting a road through the area is not only environmentally unsound, but also goes against the area's comprehensive plan, which says "stream valley parks should not only be protected from development and infrastructure impacts, but be restored and enhanced," said Pam Konde, president of the Greater Tysons Green Civic Association, at a meeting about the proposal in May.
The plans for extensions and ramps come as part of the Comprehensive Plan for the Tysons Corner Urban Center, which includes expanding the transportation network surrounding it to reduce traffic and improve mobility for cars and buses, but also bicyclists and pedestrians; a connection to the Dulles Toll Road is high on the list of solutions.
Options for the area first presented to residents at a May meeting in Vienna included:
- Preferred Option One: Additional ramps to the Dulles Toll Road from Greensboro Drive and Boone Boulevard
- Option Two: An Urban Frontage Road
- Preferred Option Three: Ramps from Boone Boulevard and Greensboro and Jones Branch drives
More than 200 residents at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation meeting called the plans "disgusting" for their potential effects on protected woodlands and accused county officials of putting developer demands ahead of local homeowners.
"Tysons is going to happen ... but we fought for that green buffer. The residents fought for that green space, and [the planners] can't violate that," Vienna Mayor Jane Seeman said at the time.
Since then, Konde and John Shreffler, head of the Westbriar Civic Association, among others in the group, sent a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, requesting they remove "Option 3" from the table.
Coalition leaders met with Dranesville Supervisor John W. Foust and supervisrs Chair Sharon Bulova this month, both of whom indicated they were "not an advocate of the forest route," Shreffler wrote. But because the federal funding the county hopes to secure for the project requires all options to be thoroughly vetted, Foust said scrapping the option completely may hurt its ability to get funding at all.
Fairfax County officials are planning to hold another series of public meetings this fall; staff is aiming to complete the study and put forward a recommendation this winter. From there, the Board of Supervisors would vote on which option to pursue.
The coalition organized a block party to gather more support for the cause from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Irvin Street and Ashgrove Lane in Vienna. It will make a presentation at 5 p.m. For more information, click here.