Rosslyn Metro Improvement Plan Irks Some Neighbors

by Katie Pyzyk April 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm 5,812 47 Comments

(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) The county’s plans for renovating the Rosslyn Metro station are getting some flak from a nearby neighborhood association.

The North Rosslyn Civic Association (NRCA) opposes the decision to replace the existing escalators to the plaza level with a granite staircase. The county says the change is necessary to accommodate a Commuter Store that will be built on the ticketing level. The store essentially will be built under the current escalator area, which will not provide adequate access for performing maintenance on the escalators.

According to Lisa Maher, Development Plan Review Supervisor in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, staff pored over the plans for months trying to find a different place to put the store, but couldn’t locate an area that had the necessary amount of space.

In a letter to the county, NRCA said the two escalators — one up and one down — are “the only assistance provided to residents in negotiating the tremendous change in elevation between the center of Rosslyn and the adjacent community to the West.” The escalators are especially useful for Metro riders who have already made the excruciating climb up from the underground station and need a bit of a breather, residents said.

Maher says there’s been an ongoing conversation with residents in the area and attempts have been made to address concerns. However, the Commuter Store is still slated to go in, and the escalators are still slated be removed.

“The community said, let’s put it somewhere else in neighborhood,” Maher said. “But there’s just nowhere else to put it, and it’s most valuable when near the station.”

The Commuter Store is just one of the improvements that will be coming to the Rosslyn station. Since 2007, the county has been working with the developer constructing an office building adjacent to the Metro. As part of the permit approval, the developer agreed to provide renovations to the Metro entrance.

Some of the other improvements include providing an ADA accessible entrance on Ft. Myer Drive, adding more lighting to the station mezzanine, installing new tile flooring and renovating the existing skybridge.

On Saturday, portions of the agreement will come up for approval at the County Board meeting. The Board is expected to approve the measures, allowing the county manager to alter the number of public improvements the developer must provide.

Staff also recommends the Board approve the provision permitting the county to pay for a portion of the improvements if the cost exceeds the developer’s budget. The cost would be determined after the list of improvements is negotiated and finalized.

  • novasteve

    flak = fliegerabwehrkannonen.

    Something tells me that the guys in B-17s, B-24s, B-25s, Lancasters, Halifaxes, etc would not agree about these complaints being “flak”

    • Josh S

      Oy vey.

  • JohnB

    From the dictionary:

    1. antiaircraft fire, especially as experienced by the crews of combat airplanes at which the fire is directed.

    2. criticism; hostile reaction; abuse: Such an unpopular decision is bound to draw a lot of flak from the press.

    • world traveller

      Pisch! I insist that you use it only in its original meaning so that I can show off my worldliness!!!

    • Aaron

      “Flak” also carries the connotation of indiscriminate fire rather than something precisely aimed at the target. Its usage here is far more disparaging to the NRCA than it is to our WW2 veterans.

  • John Fontain

    Does anyone even make use of these “commuter stores?”

    I’ve seen the mobile commuter stores around the metro stations in the past and I’ve never seen a customer. Just seen the employee dozing off.

    • Autoexec.bat

      People use the one in Crystal City quite a bit.

      • bred

        As they do in Ballston.

      • Aaron

        They use the brick-and-mortar one in Rosslyn too. I’m not sure exactly why this relocation is necessary, unless the Metro Mall above the station (Tivoli, etc.) is also being torn down.

    • novasteve

      Think of what kind of food truck that thing could be converted into.

  • SouthPikeGuy
  • bob

    oN the other hand, people use those escalators every day.

    Save the Skywalk!

  • Jennifer

    Give up and install stairs. That’s all the escalators are anyway, with how seldom they are in working order.

    • Dan

      Actually, in twenty years of riding those particular escalators, they were almost always operational.

      The old commuter store that was inside the mall was far larger than required.
      I can’t imagine that any of the functions that they provided couldn’t be covered by a kiosk sized structure.

      It was never busy and I mean never.

  • jslanger

    What do the Commuter Stores actually do/sell? On the web page, it says that they add 25cents to each transaction (fare cards, etc). So what is the benefit beyond the automated machines in the Metro stations?

    • Aaron

      The first time I ever needed to ride MARC I bought a weekly pass there so I wouldn’t have to learn to negotiate the Amtrak ticket machine at Union Station in the pre-dawn hours.

      Back in the days before the buses accepted SmartTrip, I also used to buy my Metrobus tokens there.

    • Arlingtonian

      About a month ago, the commuter stores gave away 550 free bicycle helmets that the County had paid for. The first people who returned coupons that the County had sent with “The Citizen” got the helmets.

      That was the first time that I visited the Rosslyn Commuter store. It was also probably the last time.

  • Crystal Dykey

    Why can’t they leave the Commuter Store where it is, inside the Rosslyn Metro Mall?

  • drax

    Rosslyn – Most corrupt Metro stop

    • Aaron

      I never thought I’d say this, but would you care to elaborate?

      • Bbron

        I wish you had not said that.

        • Thes

          I used to use Rosslyn Metro station for years, but now I am FED UP with the corruption. One day people will realize how much they’ve been duped by the Rosslyn Metro station.

          • novasteve

            I get into arguments with the Rosslyn Metro Station. Sometimes it would say it invented the question mark, or accused chestnuts of being lazy.

          • Josh S

            I think there may actually be a shred of wit in this post. Congratulations.

          • Aaron

            Thank you Thes! I promise to be less credulous in the future.

          • drax

            I think everyone agrees that this is the most corrupt Metro station in the country, not just the region. But hey, pretty much all Metro stations are corrupt, you can bet on it.

        • drax

          Too late! Free comment!

    • John Fontain

      Most corrupt or the most corrupt? Or both?

      • drax


    • WeiQiang

      THE most corrupt

  • Runaway Train

    I have only visited a handful of cities that have subway systems similar in size to DC and none of them have the amount of escalators that WMATA has. Those systems are more crude in appearance, but they don’t seem to be plagued with the constant maintenance issues that metro riders experience pertaining to the escalators.
    I would welcome seeing the shorter escalators in the entire system replaced with stairs.

    • Josh S

      We are spoiled and if these had been stairs all this time, no one would be calling for them to be replaced with an escalator.

  • ArlRes

    So glad WMATA is finally coming to their senses and choosing reliable stairs instead of inefficient escalators. All station to platform escalators should be made steps as well. Just because the US is becoming fatter by the day doesn’t mean we need to cater to the trend. The elevators already provide ADA accessibility, so these shorter escalators are not required and just a waste of taxpayer dollars with their operating costs and constant maintenance.

    • Dan

      Spoken like a person who has never walked up the Rosslyn escalators.

      The elevators used to be out-of-order quite frequently….

  • WeiQiang

    Single set of stairs and a hydraulic lift elevator. It leaves room for the commuter store and access to the mechanicals of the elevator.

  • Clue Wes

    Whoah – people actually live in Rosslyn???

  • SouthPikeGuy

    Anytime it rains there is always water leaking down from the top of that escalator where it meets the mezzanine. I assume they are going to fix that before building a store under it.

  • Eric

    Replace these escalators with a single stairway. There is insufficient traffic to justify running dual escalators. When you get to the top you see the food court is boarded up, the bridge across Moore and Lynn Street will soon be removed. Heading west over Ft Myer drive you’ll encounter stairs anyway unless you go through the Picwick(?) building. Of course, if Rosslyn was really onto something, it would create an escalator system like they have in Hong Kong that takes you from waterfront to Mid-Levels halfway up the mountainside. Heavily used by commuters. Imagine an escalator, moving belt system from Lynn Street to Queen Street up Wilson.

    • Arlingtonian

      Imagine the cost of building, maintaining and repairing the escalator, moving belt system.

  • Rosslyn

    This is so silly. Residents say keep the escalators and county says we’ve considered listening to the citizens and decided not to. Is there any sense in which local government can be held accountable?

    As a property owner in Rosslyn who does not participate in the community association, I think the association’s position is spot-on. One could debate whether the escalators should have been put in, in the first place. But it makes no sense to rip them out, particularly in the name of putting in a useless store.

    But it further amazes me how comfortable the county bureaucracy is in ignoring citizens’ views. Where are the accountable leaders?

    • Arlingtonian

      Where are the people who refuse to vote for incumbents in County Board elections? All of the others are accountable.

      Voters are the real leaders. The politicians and bureaucrats are no more than tools of the voters.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      And why does Metro get in the business of running a store. It could just as easily use real small businesses as resellers thus helping the business community.

    • Josh S

      Perhaps the county officials have listened to the citizens and decided that their arguments were not persuasive when balanced against all the other information / pressures / constraints they have to operate under?

      Just because some citizens expressed an opinion doesn’t mean it is automatically the best course of action.

  • Rosslynion

    Can someone explain why the metro maintains/has escalators that go in the down direction for a single flight of stairs? How much money could they save if they just turned the downward escalators off?

    And the commuter store could be run by the guy who hands out the Express. Nothing else required but a person and a box full of papers.

    I’d suggest turning the metro booth at Rosslyn into the commuter store, but then the metro employees would have to nap under the escalators.

    • Trish

      Every try to walk down the Rosslyn escalator? Makes me dizzy as all get out.

  • YTK

    Isn’t there a Commuter Store already in that small shopping center (where the Tivoli is) at Rosslyn?
    Or is this just another excuse to keep the Rosslyn area as Dysfunctional as it has always been (I mean WHY spoil tradition, eh?)

  • Bender

    There are many people (mostly older) who cannot safely walk up or down stairs without risk of falling. Having moveable stairs (escalators) allows them easier access into the system rather than having to cram into some slow elevator.


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