The long-awaited Seven Corners Transit Center opens this week, with a ribbon-cutting planned for tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.
The transit center replaces several temporary sites with a dedicated location for bus bays and customer shelters near Arlington Boulevard and Thorne Road (adjacent to Chipotle). Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, who currently is chairman of the WMATA Board, will join me for the ceremony. Also scheduled to speak is Metro General Manager Richard Sarles and a representative from Saul Centers, owner of the Seven Corners Shopping Center.
Long-time residents will recall that buses once stopped on the “top” level of the shopping center (when it was an enclosed mall) near the site of the current Michaels arts and crafts store. That location was conveniently located between the old Garfinckel’s and Woodward and Lothrop department stores. Later, the bus stop moved to various locations including, for a short time, in the western end of the parking lot along Route 7, near the current Red Robin restaurant. For many years, the location has been in the windswept corner near Ross Dress for Less on the lower level, a dark, cold, location that was well-used, but quite limited in capacity and forbidding.
Seven Corners Shopping Center is an ideal location for the new Transit Center, which connects nicely with the pedestrian bridge across Route 50 that was installed in the spring of 2009. The shopping center is in the Bailey’s Crossroads/Seven Corners revitalization district, and was granted parking reductions because the planned transit center would bring foot traffic into the center by mass transit, rather than by individual private vehicles. The county project, which was coordinated with WMATA, included dedication of right-of-way needed from the shopping center, was designed by Department of Public Works and Environmental Services staff. Funding was provided through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant from the federal government, and required a 20 percent local government match. Total cost of the investment is $1.7 million.
The facility is state-of-the-art, including new bus shelters, information kiosks, improved landscaping, and reinforced bus bays (no more “wrinkled” blacktop), and will encourage transit ridership, and provide customers with a better commute. The development of this transit center in eastern Fairfax County will provide a major transfer point for Metrobus passengers in eastern Fairfax and western Arlington counties. Other improvements in the Seven Corners area include new pedestrian signals and safer crosswalks at the intersection of Route 7 and Patrick Henry Drive, funded by the Transportation Bond that was approved by the voters in 2007.
This week also marks the Lunar New Year for many Asian nations. Skies were overcast and misty, but enthusiasm high as Vietnamese-American residents celebrated the Year of the Dragon with a joint flag ceremony at the Eden Center, near Seven Corners, on Monday. A huge American flag was raised over the Eden Center, reminding everyone of the price paid for the freedoms we enjoy. The rain didn’t dampen the firecrackers, and the bright red and yellow Vietnamese colors on banners, ribbons, and knit mufflers, made it a spirited celebration for old and young alike.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at email@example.com