Arlington could be extending a protected bike lane in Crystal City, a block from Amazon’s future home.
Designs on the website show the current unprotected bike lanes being converted to protected lanes without a loss of vehicle travel lanes. Additional pedestrian-safety upgrades are also planned.
A group of residents advocating for eliminating single occupant car commuting at Amazon’s future headquarters celebrated the news. On Twitter, the group thanked DES and wrote the planned infrastructure was “GOOD NEWS!”
“The project will improve the safety of the South Fern Street and 18th Street South intersection by removing the southbound right turn slip lane and building curb extensions on all four corners of the intersection to reduce pedestrian crossing distances,” said Department of Environmental Services (DES) spokesman Eric Balliet.
“It will also extend the existing protected bike lanes on South Hayes Street (west of the Fern St/18th St intersection) along 18th Street from South Fern to South Eads Street,” he added.
The project will include features for pedestrians, like high visibility crosswalks. Per the county website:
Additionally, the intersection of 18th Street South and South Fern Street will be rebuilt to decrease crossing distances and decrease the existing impervious area. This will improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle safety at the intersection.
The project will also add stormwater retention, replace a water main and upgrade the streetscape, helping improve the connection between the core of Pentagon City and Crystal City.
The work is part of the 18th Street S. Complete Streets project and is expected to cost the county $5.3 million, which will be paid for by funds earmarked in the Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2017-2026 and a Crystal City transportation infrastructure fund.
Arlington first added plastic bollards and moved out the parking area along S. Hayes Street in 2014 to physically protect cyclists from cars. Since then, DES has tested out more protected bike lanes, adding two in Ballston and Courthouse.
However, transit advocates have pushed for the county to pick up the pace, citing the dangers of cars blocking unprotected lanes which forces cyclists into dangerous, busy roads. In addition to cyclists, bike lanes are also used by e-scooter riders.
Balliet said the department expects construction on the 18th Street S. project to begin next fall.