Metro has released the results of a pivotal study of options for increasing capacity of the Metrorail system, and the preliminary conceptual designs suggest big transit changes might eventually be coming to Arlington.
Among the ideas floated by the transit agency are a second Rosslyn Metro station, a new tunnel under the Potomac, and an new stretch of the Silver Line to either run down Columbia Pike or through North Arlington.
Metro says its “Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity & Reliability Study” is necessary because the existing Rosslyn tunnel is a bottleneck for all three lines, producing delays and crowding that will only get worse — particularly in Arlington — due to expected population and job growth.
The study is intended to “identify the best and most cost-effective solutions to address future ridership, service, and reliability needs on these Metrorail lines,” Metro said. “The approval of dedicated funding from Metro’s jurisdictional partners provides funding to bring the existing system into a state of good repair and keep it well maintained going forward; however, there are future transportation needs that we must begin addressing now.”
Among the changes being considered are:
- A second Rosslyn Metro station, with a pedestrian connection to the current station.
- A second tunnel across the Potomac.
- A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and upper Northwest D.C., and into Montgomery County.
- A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and mid-city D.C., and into Prince George’s County.
- A new urban core loop “connecting Pentagon, Rosslyn, Georgetown, the Dupont and Shaw neighborhoods, and the Navy Yard/Waterfront area.”
- New “NoVa Circulator” option that will route some trains from the Pentagon, around Rosslyn and down the Orange/Silver line toward Courthouse.
- A Silver Line extension down Columbia Pike and up Route 7, connecting with the West Falls Church Station.
- A Silver Line extension north of I-66, through North Arlington and McLean.
Major capital projects like a Metro line extension would take several decades and the cost is only described as “high.”
The idea of running Metro down Columbia Pike was discussed while debate raged over the since-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar project, and might find some public support, but the concept of Metro running through mostly residential North Arlington seems much more politically infeasible. Wherever a new Metro line runs, big changes, development and a rise in property values can be expected, as happened with the original construction of the Metrorail system in Arlington.
A number of comparatively minor changes are also proposed, like pocket tracks, crossovers and turnarounds to better mitigate delays and incidents, reconfiguring train seats to provide more space, and adding new station entrances.
Metro says it is now embarking on a public engagement process, with a goal of selecting a set of “locally-preferred” options, both long- and short-term, by next fall.
A public open house is planned in Arlington next week, to be held Monday from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at George Mason University’s Van Metre Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square.
— Metro (@wmata) December 5, 2019
Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]
Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]
Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]
County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]
County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]
Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]
DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]
(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Metrorail riders, especially those heading toward D.C. on the Orange/Silver line, are experiencing major crowding due to an incident in the District overnight.
Two trains, neither of which were carrying passengers, collided near the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West Metro stations around 1 a.m. Both train operators were injured.
An investigation into the crash has prompted single-tracking past the scene, leading to major delays during the Monday morning commute. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are only running every 15 minutes, while the Silver Line is only running between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations.
Significant crowding has been reported at the East Falls Church and Ballston stations in Arlington. The cost of Uber and Lyft rides has also reportedly spiked.
More via social media and the Unsuck DC Metro Twitter account:
— Alison Sweet (@cat3ali) October 7, 2019
I've never seen the Ballston Metro this hectic. Silver line is shut down except between Ballston and Wiehle Reston. Orange running every 15 min. They are queuing people up to head into D.C. from Ballston. #dcmetro #commute @DCMetroandBus @dcmetrohero pic.twitter.com/deClwCTPrc
— Ashley Hopko (@AshleyHopko) October 7, 2019
Due to a collision between 2 non revenue trains outside Farragut West at 12:54 am, the following service changes are in effect:
BL/OR: Every 15 minutes
Single tracking from Foggy Bottom to McPherson Sq
SV: every 15 minutes from Wiehle to Ballston ONLY https://t.co/sgY4AuKzqG
— Rail Transit OPS Group (@RailTransitOPS) October 7, 2019
Metro is planning a full Yellow Line shutdown starting next week, and is warning riders of hefty delays along the Blue Line the two-week-long construction work.
The rail service hoping to complete major renovation work on the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River, prompting the closure. In all, the work will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 9.
“During rush hour, trains will run about half as frequently as usual, due to capacity limits at the Rosslyn tunnel,” Metro wrote in a release. “Customers may experience crowding.”
Blue Line trains will run every 16 minutes on weekdays through 8 p.m., then switch to 20-minute headways. Riders can also expect 16-20 minute headways on weekends.
The transit agency will offer free shuttle bus service to compensate for the shutdown, including:
- Between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon and between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza from opening until 8 p.m.
- Between Franconia-Springfield and L’Enfant Plaza and between Crystal City and L’Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.
Metro is urging riders to consider Virginia Railway Express service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street to L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station, or local bus options instead.
The shutdown will also coincide with a weekend shutdown of five Green Line stations from Dec. 1-2, when the Navy Yard, Waterfront and Archives stations will be closed, along with the Yellow and Green Line platforms only at Gallery Place-Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza.
This construction is Metro’s last planned major construction work of the year, and comes on the heels of a Veteran’s Day shutdown on the Blue and Yellow lines that prompted huge traffic woes for travelers hoping to reach Reagan National Airport.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Metro officials are sending an unusual, and perhaps alarming, message to commuters ahead of two weeks of major construction on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines: stay away, if you can.
Starting Saturday (Aug. 11) and running through Aug. 26, Metro will shut down the Blue Line completely starting at the Arlington Cemetery station, and single-track between the McPherson Square and Smithsonian stations. Officials expect that will result in 20-minute headways on the Orange and Silver lines “at all times,” and it’s urging riders to “only use Metrorail if you have no other option.”
That’s sure to create huge headaches for commuters all over Arlington, but county officials say there just isn’t much they can do to mitigate the impact of the track work.
“There’s just no way we can replace the capacity that’s going to be lost,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey, who also serves on Metro’s Board of Directors, told ARLnow. “There are alternatives, but the only way this is really going to work is if people who can and are able to find alternatives, do so.”
Dorsey suggested that some commuters could turn to Metrobus, or perhaps to Arlington Transit — Metro recommends ART’s 42 line between Ballston and the Pentagon and the 43 line between Courthouse and Crystal City, as both could help commuters transfer to the Yellow Line, which will have some enhanced service.
Dorsey added that the county will be able to bump up service on some ART routes reaching the city, but only slightly, noting “we just don’t have enough buses to be deployed” to fully compensate for the construction work.
Fundamentally, however, Dorsey expects “extreme crowding” and “incredible chaos” at Metro stations in D.C.’s urban core, particularly during the first few days of the track work before commuters fully adjust. That’s why he’d rather see people turn to teleworking, if possible, or adjust their commutes to arrive in D.C. a bit later than normal.
“We want to make sure to level-set expectations, and let them know that getting them there within an acceptable time frame not going to be possible,” Dorsey said. “But this is being done with the expectation, too, that fewer people will be affected at this time of the year.”
Yet some of Metro’s (many) critics suggest that WMATA isn’t doing all it could to make life easier for commuters as the work gets going. Stephen Repetski, a close Metro observer and contributor at Greater Greater Washington, has suggested that WMATA could “turn back” trains at select Silver, Orange and Blue stations, in order to ease the pain at stations outside of the work zone.
In particular, Repetski believes Metro could reverse trains at Arlington stations like Ballston or Clarendon, which would be a boon for county commuters. He argues that failing to do so “will result in severe, and unnecessary, service cuts for riders.”
Places where #wmata could turn Orange/Silver trains to provide more service outside of the single-tracking area:
– Foggy Bottom
– Eastern Market
– Stadium Armory
Not all are desirable locations, but all are feasible.
— Metro Reasons (@MetroReasons) August 5, 2018
But Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that turning back trains at Ballston, Clarendon, Foggy Bottom or stations in the eastern half of the city “would not address the capacity issues in the downtown core, requiring customers traveling to/from downtown D.C. to offload and board already crowded trains.”
“In this scenario, it could create dangerous crowding conditions on platforms as trains would likely be too crowded for customers to board,” Ly wrote.
As for McPherson Square and Smithsonian, Ly says “the location of the work zone” makes turning trains around at the stations a real challenge.
“The work zone…extends beyond the platform at both McPherson Square and Federal Triangle,” Ly wrote. “Turning a train would block trains coming through the single track, while a train offloads and turns back. For service efficiency, we would need both platforms to turn trains back.”
All those specifics aside, Dorsey reiterates that two solutions remain the simplest for commuters: “Either don’t ride, or temper your expectations.”
“If you’re able to do one or both, then you’ll be fine,” Dorsey said.
Metro is planning plenty of maintenance and construction this weekend, April 28-29, with work set to cause delays on all six lines.
Trains will run only once every 24 minutes on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines, with single tracking in store for riders as well, Metro says.
Silver Line trains will only run between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations throughout the weekend, and Orange and Blue Line trains will be sharing a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory to allow for rail maintenance work.
Metro is also warning riders to prepare for significant delays on the Red Line, with trains expected every 28 minutes. That’s in part due to single tracking between Farragut North and Union Station, as workers install equipment to support cell service in Metro tunnels.
On the Yellow and Green Lines, trains are expected to run every 15 minutes.
Yellow Line trains will only run between the Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square stations. Metro is also expecting Green Line trains to share a track between the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
County HQ to Be Named After Bozman — “The Arlington County Board today voted unanimously to name the County Office Building at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard for Ellen M. Bozman, the six-time Board Chair who served on the Board through some of Arlington’s most transformative years, and who died in 2009.” [Arlington County]
Blue, Yellow Line Service Disruption — Metrorail service on the Blue and Yellow lines was suspended earlier this morning due to “fire department activity” at the Pentagon station. Arlington County Fire Department units investigated the incident and turned the scene back over to Metro around 6 a.m. Service has since been restored. [Twitter, Twitter, Fox 5]
County Board Sets Stage for Va. Square Redevelopment — The Arlington County Board on Saturday took a first step towards the redevelopment of several properties at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road. New apartments and upgrades to the YMCA have been proposed for the site. The Board approved a General Land Use Plan Study and Concept Plan that will “serve as a long-range planning guide for potential redevelopment.” [Arlington County]
Arlingtonian Among Rhodes Scholars — Arlington native Matthew Chun, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been named one of 32 Rhodes scholars in the U.S. Chun, who is also captain of the school’s wrestling team, is one of two Virginians among the latest group of Rhodes scholars. [Associated Press, MIT News]
Juvenile Hospitalized After Nauck Hit and Run — An individual under the age of 18 was reportedly struck by a car on the 2400 block of Shirlington Road, in the Nauck area, over the weekend. The car’s driver drove off after hitting the juvenile, who suffered non-life threatening injuries. [WJLA]
Nestle Lease Lauded in Commercial RE Awards — The lease of 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn to serve as Nestle’s new U.S. headquarters was given the “Award of Excellence” in the Real Estate Transaction category at the 2017 NAIOP Northern Virginia commercial real estate awards. It was among six Arlington-related winners at the awards ceremony, including the new Marymount University Ballston Center development. [NAIOP]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton
Gas Leak Along George Mason Drive — Part of S. George Mason Drive near Columbia Pike was closed this morning due to a gas leak. [Washington Post]
Bethesda Has Most Expensive One-Bedroom Apartments — Bethesda has the highest median rents for one-bedroom apartments, at $2,270, according to a new report. “In comparison, D.C.’s typical one-bedroom costs $2,260 per month, while one-bedroom rents in Arlington, Virginia, cost a median of $2,140 per month.” [Curbed]
Remembering Hoover Field — A pair of airports, Hoover Field (later Hoover Airport) and Washington Airport, operated during the 1920s and 1930s on the site of the present day Pentagon reservation. National Airport was opened shortly after both closed down to make way for the Pentagon. [Paul Freeman, Twitter]
Best Places to Watch the Marine Corps Marathon — A number of Arlington locations are listed among the best places for spectators to watch the Marine Corps Marathon. [WTOP]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Metro’s next SafeTrack “surge” will include a temporary shutdown of the entire Blue Line, starting Saturday.
Blue Line trains will not run at all between Feb. 11-28, according to Metro. Instead, Yellow Line “Rush Plus” trains will run all day between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt. Those trains will run in addition to regular Yellow Line trains between Huntingdon and Mount Vernon Square.
The Arlington Cemetery station will be closed and will be served by buses from the Pentagon during the latest round of maintenance work.
During rush hour, trains are scheduled to arrive every four minutes at stations normally served by both Blue and Yellow Line trains, Metro said. Orange and Silver Line trains will not be affected by the latest track maintenance effort.
Metro originally planned to only run Blue Line trains between the Franconia-Springfield and Reagan National Airport stops. But the transit agency updated that plan on Jan. 27 after concluding the original one wasn’t necessarily “in the interest of minimizing customer impact.”
“The new service plan means that riders from Virginia will experience less crowding and will be able to ride into D.C. without changing trains,” the agency said in a release.
Next month, track work will primarily affect riders heading to and from Alexandria. From March 4-26, Metro trains will share a single track on the Blue and Yellow lines between the Braddock Road and Huntington/Van Dorn Street stations. Blue Line trains will run every 24 minutes during that time, while the Yellow Line between National Airport and Mt. Vernon Square will run every 6-12 minutes, according to Metro.
From March 26 through April 2, only Blue Line Trains will share a single track. Then, from April 3-9, Yellow Line trains are slated for single-tracking.
Later this year, likely around May and June, a portion of the Orange Line between the Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton stops is also scheduled to undergo maintenance and single tracking. The SafeTrack program is currently slated to wrap up in late June, though the final dates haven’t yet been announced.
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
No trains will run on the Blue Line between Rosslyn and the Pentagon between Feb. 11-28, Metro announced earlier today. Blue Line trains will only operate between Franconia-Springfield and Reagan National Airport during the maintenance period.
Orange and Silver Line trains will not be affected by the latest SafeTrack surge, officials said.
Alexandria will bear the brunt of the next round of “surge” work. From March 4 to April 9, Metro trains will share a single track on the Blue and Yellow lines between the Braddock Road and Huntington/Van Dorn Street stations. Blue Line trains will run every 24 minutes during that time, while the Yellow Line between National Airport and Mt. Vernon Square will run every 6-12 minutes, according to Metro.
Later this year — at some point around May and June — a portion of the Orange Line between the Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton stops is also scheduled to undergo maintenance and single tracking.
Track work was suspended this month due to the inauguration and “the potential for winter weather impacts,” according to Metro. The SafeTrack program is currently slated to wrap up in late June, though the final dates haven’t yet been announced.
SafeTrack is intended to “rehabilitate the Metrorail system to improve safety and reliability.” Two hours after Metro announced the updated SafeTrack schedule, Arlington County firefighters responded to the Rosslyn station for a report of an arcing insulator.
Track inspections did not find any significant smoke or fire, but the emergency response did have some traffic impacts in Rosslyn.
ACFD is responding to the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of an arcing insulator in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom
— Arlington News (@ARLnowDOTcom) January 12, 2017
— Rail Transit OPS (@RailTransitOPS) January 12, 2017
— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) January 12, 2017
Image via Metro