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County seeks feedback on updated concept for Crystal City-DCA bridge

The proposed bridge between Crystal City and DCA at its starting point in the planned Virginia Railway Express station (courtesy of Arlington County)

It’s a little less park-like than New York City’s High Line, but Arlington County has come up with a concept for new pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to National Airport.

Now, it is asking people to share their feedback.

Over the past year, the county, the Virginia Department of Transportation and a Boston-based civil engineering firm have evaluated 16 possible bridge and tunnel connections across active train tracks, the GW Parkway and National Park Service land.

After concluding the site could not accommodate tunnel entrances, VDOT and the county were left to consider two bridges. Today (Tuesday), Arlington launched a public engagement period for a preferred alternative, moving the needle forward on what’s being called the Crystal City to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Multimodal Connection project — or CC2DCA.

The county proposes starting the bridge at the planned Virginia Railway Express Crystal City station at 2011 Crystal Drive  and ending in the second level of DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage.

If built, it would take about five minutes to walk the 1,300 feet from the station to the airport, per a press release from the National Landing Business Improvement District.

The proposed Crystal City to DCA bridge starting point at the planned Virginia Railway Express station (courtesy of Arlington County)

The bridge would be an enclosed girder bridge running perpendicular to the rail tracks.

Then, the CC2DCA would run at an angle over the GW Parkway.

Initially, the county considered an arch bridge, but a bridge supported with girders would allow the county to link the connector with the Mount Vernon Trail without re-aligning it, per a staff presentation.

The bridge segment over the GW Parkway (courtesy of Arlington County)

Once it links up with DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage, pedestrians would have a dedicated walkway through the garage to the terminal. This path would eliminate 40 parking spaces, according to the presentation.

The bridge segment over the GW Parkway and linking to DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage (courtesy of Arlington County)

Ballpark estimates put the project at $43 million, the presentation said. So far, CC2DCA already has over $38 million in committed funds.

Now through Nov. 6, people can share their feedback in English, Spanish and Chinese, attend a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, or submit comments via email, according to the project webpage.

“The team is sharing concepts to make sure needs and priorities are aligned,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors tells ARLnow. “This is the preferred recommended alternative to date, but it hasn’t been approved by any agencies as of now.”

After collecting public feedback, the county plans to present its recommendation to federal agencies in December, Pors said.

The preferred alternative could be confirmed by next spring and the design phase could start by the end of 2023, per the National Landing BID press release.

The second-place contender would have started at 2231 Crystal Drive and ended at the third level of the Terminal 2 parking garage. Staff ultimately decided against it because it was projected to cost $64.5 million, would eliminate 130 parking spaces at the airport and it would not be as centrally located for rail users, per the staff presentation.

A connection between Crystal City and DCA has been years in the making. Conceived of and championed by the National Landing BID, when it was still the Crystal City BID, it later figured into the transportation projects included in the 2018 agreement to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Pentagon City, alongside with upgrades to Route 1.

“We at the National Landing BID are thrilled by the considerable progress made towards making CC2DCA a reality and we applaud Arlington and Virginia’s commitment to delivering this next-generation mobility project,” National Landing BID President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “As CC2DCA advances to the next phase of the approval process, we look forward to working with Arlington County, other local stakeholders, and the community to ensure a robust community dialogue yields the very best design and project outcome.”

The BID says CC2DCA — combined with a second Crystal City Metro entrance and the relocated VRE station — will turn the region into a multimodal hub that could attract more rail service as well as new businesses and economic opportunities.

“When complete, CC2DCA will make National Landing the only downtown in the country with a short, direct pedestrian and bike connection to an airport, creating a considerable competitive advantage and further enhancing economic development in Northern Virginia,” the BID said.

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