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County to ink $117M contract with JBG Smith for second Crystal City Metro entrance

A long-planned-for second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is set to hit a milestone during the Arlington County Board meeting tomorrow.

The Board on Saturday is set to approve a $117.2 million contract with JBG Smith and Clark Construction, which intend to design and build an east entrance to the station on the northwest corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive.

JBG Smith approached the county with an unsolicited proposal to undertake the project and, in 2020, the county struck a deal with the developer. It was one of the five transportation projects associated with Amazon’s second headquarters, including a pedestrian bridge to Reagan National Airport and an at-grade Route 1.

This May, JBG Smith and Clark submitted 30% complete designs and the $117.2 million price tag. Since then, county staff and the developers have been negotiating the terms of the contract, which would hold the developers responsible for budget overages.

Project costs have increased by a few million dollars since 2022, when JBG Smith and the county agreed to tweak the project to save $13 million from the then-estimated total of $126 million.

In a report, the county says this entrance project is targeting one of Arlington’s most heavily used Metro stations in an area expected to grow even more in the near future.

“The Metrorail station serves high-density residential buildings, office buildings, and retail development,” the report said. “The station is also a major transfer point for Metrorail, commuter bus and rail, and premium bus service.”

The new entrance will provide a direct route accessible to people with disabilities and forge a better connection to the Virginia Railway Express station to the east.

When the Board reconvenes in September, members are expected to consider a separate agreement with WMATA, the county report said. It will outline the county’s role overseeing design and construction and how it will coordinate with WMATA.

Location of proposed second Crystal City Metro entrance (via Arlington County)

But this is not the only second Metro entrance project taking a step forward on Saturday.

Next up, in Ballston, the Board is slated to accept $4.5 million in Northern Virginia Transportation Commission I-66 Commuter Choice Program Funds for a long-envisioned western entrance at the intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street.

The county has pooled together a hodge-podge of funding sources, including an $80 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, approved last summer. NVTA helped cover the cost to develop design costs in 2016 but denied a 2019 request for $33.5 million.

Despite these funding wins, costs continue rising: a county report now estimates a price tag of $150 million, up from $140 million in 2021 and $130 million in 2019.

The county expects to have a final estimate after WMATA finishes reviewing the 35% complete plans. Then, Arlington County will seek out a company to finish the designs and build the project.

“A second station entrance will improve access from the Glebe Road area and growing development in the western part of Ballston. The project will also improve egress in the event of an emergency incident requiring evacuation from the station and train platforms.”

There will be two street-level elevators and either escalators or stairs to an underground passageway and a new mezzanine with stairs and elevators to the train platform. The new entrance will have fare gates, fare vending machines and a station manager kiosk.

The project will come with improved street-level transit connections.

Map showing potential location of new Ballston Metro entrance (via Google Maps)

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