Transit Oriented Development

Washington Metro pulling out of Dunn Loring

I lived near the Clarendon Metro when I first came to Washington in 1984.   A that time the area around the Metro was mostly covered in parking lots, cheap restaurants and pawn shops.   It wasn’t nice.   The area around the Courthouse Metro was a forest of construction cranes.   The Metro only went as far out as Virginia Square, which had a shopping center, used car lots and (again) pawn shops.  I really cannot explain the pawn shops; I just remember noticing a lot of them. 

Below – Ballston

Today all these places are really nice.  Arlington, VA did a good job of planning for transit oriented development around the Metros at Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, & Virginia Square .   The area near the Metros are built up with high rise apartments, offices and shopping areas.   There is less need for cars and pedestrians can feel reasonably comfortable.   The Metro has pushed out to Vienna, with stops at Ballston, Falls Church East & West and my stop Dunn Loring/Merrifield.  Transit oriented development is strong in Ballston, but it is just developing at Vienna and Dunn Loring and is not doing very well at all in Falls Church.   Fairfax has a plan too.

Below – Construction near Ballston

I am most interested in Dunn Loring, because that is where I live now.    They are building a town center served by the Metro.   It is still in the planning.  Chrissy has taken part in many of the meetings.  A lot of the “town meetings” are just a show.   The people from around the area come and make demands on the developers.   Many of the demands are silly and some are designed just to slow the process.  We favor density.  It is the only way you can have a useful transit system.   Many of our neighbors want to keep things low profile and spread out.   It is a waste of Metro, IMO, but the public hearing process gives activists opportunities to make trouble.    In any case, when we moved it, the area was not as good as it is now.   It was parking lots, open lots and a few apartments.     I think the town center will make it better.

Below – everywhere you go you find the guys with the leaf blowers, uselessly pushing leaves and grass, while making noise and pollution.

I think we can take credit for a little prescience in buying here.   We bought a lot that was only red clay where they promised to build town houses.  Today we have a developing neighborhood.    The walk to the Metro, from my door to the platform, takes seven minutes, so we don’t have to worry much about traffic.    We wanted to find a place near both the Metro and bike trails.  Fortunately, the two are parallel, so during the warmer months I can ride my bike to work.    It is seventeen miles.   In my old age, I have become lazier, so I ride down and take the Metro back.   You can take your bike on the Metro after 7pm, so I hang around at work until that time.    I tell people that I am not really that ambitious and I am only at work in order to wait for the Metro, but people don’t believe me and it makes me look like a hard worker.   In all candor, I do get a lot of work done after 5pm.   The other advantage to the transit orientation is that Gold’s Gym sits between my work and the Metro stop, so I can stop by on the way home.    It takes away the excuse for not working out.    

Washington metro map

Anyway, the availability of transit means that I can go for days or weeks w/o really needing to drive the car, except to go to Safeway for groceries.   In the 24+ years I have worked for the Federal Government, I have never used a car to get to work only around five times.   

Below – Arlington did a good job a long time ago planning.  These places used to be inexpensive housing but now are trending upscale. 

A have been attending the SETS seminar at FSI, so I take the Metro to Ballston and then walk to FSI.   It is a nice walk, takes a little less than a half hour.    Some pictures are included with notes.  I like the fall colors and I would like to share the beauty.

Above are honeylocusts near my house.  They grow slowly and although they are in the legume family they do not fix nitrogen in the soil.  I was unaware of this until last year.   I wrongly assumed that it behaved like other members of the family.   I guess we need to plant some clover.

Above – Newly renovated apartment/condos with a big laurel oak in the yard.  Planting trees pays off long after.  Laurel oaks do not have the nice russet fall colors most other oaks have.

Above – Fall color among the condos near Ballston Metro.

Above – A very red maple tree

Above – Sweetgum trees at FSI.