Wednesday, Jul. 23
EDITORIAL: Expectations and answers
At the Silver Line terminus in Reston, you can look west and see a future that appears close.
Commercial airlines circle and approach Dulles Airport from the sky. Beneath your feet a toll road carries traffic and commerce up-and-down the line. In the distance, the Blue Ridge frames a prosperous plateau.
As the first phase of the Silver Line opens this weekend, gravity pulls toward destinations: the airport and two Loudoun County stations beyond.
From the elevated platform of Wiehle Station you get the sense of standing on a ridge, looking across a great forest at a distant mountain goal. The peak is so close it seems you could reach out and touch it. That is, until you get in among the trees and slowly work your way toward the mountain.
The Silver Line is like that, too. It began as a 19th century technology, a train, reconsidered in the1950's as an access vehicle from Washington to a new airport built on farmland 26 miles away. Build it and they will come. Six decades later, a high-tech rail line is four years away from carrying a region to its world-class gateway.
Now comes the futurist’s caution: Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.
Expectations are for a quick and lucrative return-on-investment on a project more than a half-century in the making. Among them:
*The Silver Line will help solve traffic congestion.
*It will make it easier to commute to Washington.
*It will bring additional prosperity to the nation’s most affluent county.
*It will provide the missing link to a powerful economic corridor stretching from Maryland to Loudoun County.
*It will re-position Dulles Airport for more expansive regional, national and international growth.
It sounds so quick and easy. But now the journey becomes arduous amid the trees in the forest.
How to use the land? Who will come? How many will come? What services will they require? Who will pay the bill?
A distant mountain lies just beyond our reach. On Saturday, the Silver Line brings us 11 miles closer to expectations and answers.
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