Yorktown Baseball Sets Record – Yorktown High School’s baseball team has finished the regular reason undefeated in the National District. With 14 victories, the Patriots set a National District record for wins in a single season. [Sun Gazette]
Crystal City BRT Named — The Bus Rapid Transit system that will serve Crystal City and Potomac Yard next year will be named “Metro Way” and will feature a blue bus design. The buses will travel from Pentagon City to Alexandria, and will run every 6 minutes during the rush hour. [Greater Greater Washington]
USS Arlington Fundraising $100K Short of Goal — So far, more than $390,000 has been donated or is expected to be pledged for a 9/11 “tribute room” on the USS Arlington. That leaves the ship’s commissioning committee more than $100,000 short of its $500,000 goal, however. Fundraising is continuing and committee member Frank O’Leary says he is “hoping to crack $400,000 this month.”
Colonial Invasion Comes to Ft. Myer — The annual spirit night for George Washington University basketball is coming to Ft. Myer’s Conmy Hall tonight. The event, which is usually held on the GW campus, will start at 8:00 p.m. It’s being held at Ft. Myer as a tribute to the military, and to celebrate GW’s basketball history — the team played at Conmy Hall from 1956 to 1975. GW students will be bused to the event from the school’s Foggy Bottom campus. [Colonial Hoops]
Late Night Shuttle Service Eyes Arlington — The DC Hopper, a nightlife shuttle service for bar-goers, is thinking about coming to Arlington. The service just launched in Bethesda, taking passengers from Bethesda to Georgetown to Dupont Circle and back in 30-passenger minibuses outfitted with TVs and free Red Bull energy drinks. Rides cost between $24 and $10. The owners say they would eventually like to expand the service to include Arlington, U Street NW, and H Street NE. [BethesdaNow]
Convert Quincy Park to Central Park? — Greater Greater Washington contributor Peter Harnik, director of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land, has an idea for Arlington’s Quincy Park. He said the park, located adjacent to Arlington Central Library, should be converted to “a great central park” with trees, a pond, a bridge, landscaping, curving baths and “not a single chain-link fence.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Alex
The streetcar plan has spawned a very vocal group of opponents. Many of those streetcar critics say that one of the alternatives from the analysis — articulated buses — is a cheaper and in some ways superior transportation option for Columbia Pike. Streetcar supporters disagree, however, and often point to economic development along streetcar corridors as the reason why rail is preferable.
Critics of the Columbia Pike streetcar have been pushing the idea of articulated buses as a cheaper and more flexible alternative to streetcar service.
Specifically, some critics have been citing the streetcar-like bus in the video above — which is currently in use in Las Vegas — as a way to get the increased capacity of streetcars while making bus travel more attractive to non-riders. The bus offers prepaid, level platform boarding — which makes loading and unloading passengers quicker and easier — plus a quiet and smooth ride. Since it runs on tires rather than a track, it also has the ability to get around accidents or any other obstruction.
Articulated buses are an option being studied for the Columbia Pike corridor, but a streetcar does have advantages that supporters say a bus cannot match. A streetcar line, supporters say, can attract transit-oriented development and promote economic growth. Plus, rail transit seems to have a psychological advantage over bus transit — in general, more people would be willing to ride a streetcar than they would a bus.
The cost of articulated bus service on Columbia Pike is estimated at $53 million, compared to the estimated $250 million cost of a five-mile streetcar line.
Arlington and Alexandria are jointly planning a five-mile streetcar line to run from the Pentagon City Metro station, across 12th Street to Crystal Drive, down Crystal Drive to Potomac Yard, and then down Route 1 to the Braddock Road Metro Station.
The Route 1 Corridor Streetcar Conversion Project, as it’s called, is currently in the environmental assessment, alternative analysis and conceptual engineering phase. That phase of the project should wrap up around mid-2013, we’re told. Roadwork on Crystal Drive set to begin this summer, meanwhile, will quietly begin to set the stage for what will eventually be a dedicated bus transitway along Crystal Drive, an interim step before the streetcar becomes operational.
Work on the Crystal City and Columbia Pike streetcar projects is running in parallel, meaning construction on each could theoretically take place at the same time. The projects are separate in an organizational sense, but connected physically. The streetcar lines will connect at the Pentagon City Metro station.
One big difference between the streetcar projects is financing. The $250 million Columbia Pike streetcar plan relies heavily on financing from the federal government, which is far from certain given the current budget crunch on Capitol Hill. Financing for the Crystal City streetcar, meanwhile, is more or less in place — it’s coming from the Crystal City tax increment financing area (TIF) that was approved by the County Board in 2010.
In a recent interview with ARLnow.com, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the Crystal City streetcar could very well open before the more-publicized Columbia Pike line.
“I think it’s actually more likely that we’ll get the Crystal City segment built first, because we know how we’re paying for it.” Hynes said. “We were hoping 2016, 2017 to have that segment open.”
Arlington County Director of Transportation Dennis Leach says work on the Crystal City streetcar is moving forward, and that a project to construct certain facilities that will be used by the streetcar will be going out for bid this summer. Leach, however, refused to speculate on when the project may be completed.
The project will enhance bus service to accommodate recent and upcoming developments in the area. Dedicated bus lanes are planned along Crystal Drive, S. Clark Street and S. Bell Street. During the first phase, seven new stops will be added along the route, in addition to the existing one at the Crystal City Metro station. Eventually, the plan is for the project to expand to the Pentagon City Metro station and south to the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria.
The locations of the new stations are already set, but you can help name them. The survey allows you to vote for suggested names or fill in your own ideas. To participate in the survey, click here. It will be available until November 10.
To that end, a public forum will be held tonight at 6:30 at the the Aurora Hills Community Center at 735 18th Street S.
“An artist has been commissioned to create public art along the corridor,” a flyer advertising tonight’s meeting says. “Join us as we help the artist gain a greater understanding of the Crystal City and Potomac Yard communities so she can develop truly site-specific work that meets the goals of your community.”
Next week another public meeting is scheduled to discuss the transitway itself. That meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, June 27, also at the Aurora Hills Community Center.
The Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transit Improvements project will build dedicated bus lanes along Crystal Drive, S. Clark Street and S. Bell Street, often at the expense of on-street parking.
The transitway will eventually be expanded. There are plans for the route to extend south through Potomac Yard and down Jefferson Davis Highway to the Braddock Road Metro station. It will also be extended to the Pentagon City Metro station. The transitway will “set the stage” for a planned Crystal City/Potomac Yard streetcar, planners say.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
Circulator Bus Service Comes to Arlington — On Sept. 1, DDOT will begin operating a new Circulator bus route between Georgetown and Arlington. More from the Washington Examiner.
Planetarium Fundraiser Draws a Crowd — More than 400 people attended the “Night at the Planetarium” fundraiser at the David M. Brown planetarium Saturday night, organizers said. The event raised about $4,500 to help save the planetarium from closure.
Arlington Native Scores TV Show – Arlington native Zack Cregger has joined the cast of “Friends with Benefits,” a new NBC comedy series set to air in 2011. Cregger previously had a starring movie role in the 2009 comedy Miss March.
County Issues Bonds on the Cheap – Arlington County issued more than $73 million in bonds last week, at a record-low 2.70 percent interest rate. The bonds will partially finance Metro projects, neighborhood conservation projects, improvements to the Water Pollution Control Plant, and construction at Yorktown High School. The low rate is partially thanks to the county’s Triple-A rating, as well as low rates in the market.
Photo: Start of last week’s Crystal City Twilighter 5K. Courtesy of Crystal City BID.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has secured $1.25 million in funding for a planned transit way that will connect Crystal City and Potomac Yard. The funding comes from the Transportation appropriations bill that passed the House on Thursday.
The five-mile-long Crystal City/Potomac Yard transit way is expected to run from Pentagon City to Alexandria’s Braddock Road Station, with most of the stops concentrated in Crystal City and Potomac Yard.
The project will create a dedicated bus route with stops throughout Crystal City. Eventually, a street car line may be installed in the transit way.