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Road Work Around Crystal City Metro Could Start in April

Update on 2/21/15 — This project has been approved. See the county press release here.

Millions of dollars in construction work to improve the flow of traffic near the Crystal City Metro Station could begin in a matter of months.

The Arlington County Board will vote at its meeting tomorrow to award a $2.7 million contract for construction on S. Bell Street and 18th Street. The work would include building four bus bays on 18th Street S. under Jefferson-Davis Highway and converting S. Bell Street to a two-way road between 15th and 18th Streets.

The project was originally split in two — the bus bays and surrounding street improvements and converting Bell Street to a two-way road — but the county decided to consolidate to reduce construction impacts and improve coordination, according to the staff report.

The bays allow buses and shuttles to park at an angle along the street, as opposed to stacking parallel to the curb and clogging traffic.

“Construction of the transit and street improvements are important for improving safety and traffic flow in the area, as well as supporting the Crystal City Sector Plan and the [Crystal City-Potomac Yard] Transitway,” the staff report states.

If approved, construction is slated to begin in April and take about 12 months. The contract includes a 15 percent contingency — 5 percent higher than standard because of unknown complications that could come from digging up the street.

According to county Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet, the new bus bays are needed for hotel and employer shuttles that drop off around the Metro station. The Transitway, when fully realized, will turn northbound Crystal Drive into a dedicated bus lane during rush hour. Those shuttles currently stop and drop off passengers on Crystal Drive, and they will be temporarily moved during construction.

One lane of travel each way along 18th Street S. will remain open during construction. The contractor that won the contract, Ardent Company, submitted a $2.3 million bid, more than $800,000 less expensive than the second-place bidder in a nine-bid race. The county determined Ardent to be a responsible bidder.

In addition to the bus bays and S. Bell Street work, the construction will add to the area:

  • A median under Jefferson-Davis Highway, to prevent what the county calls “prevalent” jaywalking near where the bus bays will be placed;
  • Bus shelters and benches at each of the four sawtooth bays;
  • Sidewalk improvements on both sides of 18th Street S.;
  • Replacing the asphalt roadway with concrete to withstand increase stress from bus traffic; and
  • Reconfiguring the S. Bell Street and 18th Street intersection to improve safety and circulation

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