Arlington County is gearing up for the construction of new bus bays, bus shelters and seating areas close to the Ballston Metro station.
As construction starts on the improvements to the transit hub near the Ballston Metro station, Arlington County cautions that drivers should expect lane closures on streets near the Ballston Metro station over the next year and a half of construction.
The project website has an unflattering description of the current transit hub outside the Ballston Metro station, calling the bus shelters aging and crowded with congested bus bays and sidewalks. The area also suffers from no kiss-and-ride drop off for the Metro station, no dedicated shuttle bus area, and no wayfinding signage.
The plan is to replace the current infrastructure with new bus bays and bus shelters with modern furnishings, expanded seating, and real-time bus information. Improvements will also include:
- Additional bike parking
- Expanded public space on Fairfax Drive
- Dedicated Kiss-and-Ride curbspace
- Dedicated shuttle bus curbspace and bus shelter
- Improved aesthetics
- Improved wayfinding signage
The work is currently expected to start mid-to-late April, according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.
“We’re working to finalize permits now with a construction start this spring,” Balliet. “Work is planned to start along Fairfax Drive first.”
Construction is scheduled to be broken up into the following phases:
- Phase 1 – Bus bays along Fairfax Drive
- Phase 2 – Bus bays along North Stuart Street
- Phase 3 – Plaza on North Stuart Street
- Phase 4 – Plaza on Fairfax Drive
During the construction of the new bus bays, the project website said buses will be temporarily routed to the west side of N. Stuart Street, which will have temporary bus shelters for riders.
Once the work starts, the construction is expected to last 18 months with teams working from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
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Construction on four new transit stations along Columbia Pike is set to begin this week, per county officials.
Nearly seven years after the uproar over the million dollar bus stop, the county awarded a $1.64 million contract to build the first 4 out of 23 planned bus stops along the Pike. The stations include large glass shelters, seating, lighting, trash cans, real time bus arrival displays and a higher curb for easier boarding.
Part of Arlington’s planned “premium transit network,” the improvements are intended to provide a better transit experience along the busy Columbia Pike transit corridor.
Per the construction map, the new stations will be located near the intersections of:
- Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
- Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street
- Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street
- Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road
More from the county’s website:
Work will begin at the South Four Mile Run Drive location, then move to the other locations in the order listed above. The current bus stop at Four Mile Run Drive will be moved one block east to Columbia Pike and South Wakefield Street during construction.
Constructing the stations will be a two-step process. First, our contractor will build the supporting infrastructure for the four stations, then they will return to each site to install the shelters and other station features. It will take several months to construct each location’s supporting infrastructure, which includes an 85 to 120-foot-long station platform with higher curb, the shelter foundation, a concrete bus pad in the roadway and electrical connections.
Installation of the station shelters is expected to start in summer 2020, once the fabricator, which is manufacturing the shelters for all 23 station locations, begins production.
Arlington’s 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan allocates a total of $16.9 million for the 23 stations, which includes the above-ground structures and supporting infrastructure, site design, project management and construction costs. The remaining stations are expected to be constructed between 2020-2023.
The county withdrew its original construction plans six years ago after the the prototype cost of the Walter Reed Drive stop, first reported by ARLnow, was revealed to cost over $1 million. The plans drew outrage from the public and attention from national and international press.
The Arlington County Board has approved a nearly $5.5 million contract to revamp the area around the Ballston Metro station.
The project — a refinement of an earlier plan, which we last reported in 2014 — will build nine bus bays, covered bus shelters and new seating areas.
More from Arlington County:
The Board voted unanimously to approve a $5.45 million contract, including $909,080 (20 percent) contingency, with Ardent Company, LLC for major improvements to the bus stop and seating areas along North Fairfax Drive and North Stuart Street. The project will expand pedestrian circulation spaces, and add real-time information displays to nine bus stops in the area. Antiquated streetlights will be upgraded, landscaping added and the existing bus driveway on Fairfax Drive will be replaced with four new saw-tooth bus bays. The North Stuart Street sidewalk will be made more accessible to persons with disabilities.
The project, included in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan, will be funded with a combination of federal, state and local funds. It is expected to begin in early spring 2020 and last for 18 months.
“Upon completion, Arlington County will take ownership and maintenance responsibility of the new furniture, information signage, and bus shelters,” a county staff report notes.
“As Arlington grows, it is essential that the County continue to improve our transportation infrastructure,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said in a statement.
A separate plan calls for the Ballston Metro canopy to be replaced with a public art installation, “which will consist of a dozens of LEDs that can be individually programmed to respond to motion sensors that detect riders coming in and out of the station.”
The county is also currently working to kickstart a project to build a second entrance to the Ballston Metro entrance.
Photo via Google Maps
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Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
The county is hoping to move past the “million-dollar bus stop” by building four less expensive stops along Columbia Pike.
A network of new transit stops along Columbia Pike were originally supposed to serve both buses and streetcars, before the streetcar project was cancelled. The latest turn in the Pike transit saga, the County Board is scheduled to discuss awarding a $1.64 million contract to build four out of 23 planned bus stops along the Pike.
“This project is key to the revitalization of the entire Columbia Pike corridor,” county staff wrote in a report to the Board.
The original construction plans were scrapped six years ago after the more than $1 million in costs for the prototype Walter Reed Drive stop, first reported by ARLnow, drew outrage from the public and international press attention.
After the streetcar project folded in 2014, officials morphed the idea of the transit stations into cheaper bus stops. Since then, the county approved $13.3 million for the planned 23 stations in Arlington’s FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan.
At its Tuesday meeting, the County Board is expected to award a contract to build four of the bus stops to Alexandria-based Sagres Construction Corporation. The same contractor was previously tapped for roadwork on Wilson Blvd and other infrastructure projects.
The four bus stops would be located near the intersections of:
- Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street
- Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
- Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street
- Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road
If the Board members approve the contract, the county is poised to pay Sagres $1,372,250.70 for the work with the possibility of an additional $274,450.14 for unexpected costs.
Sagres was the least expensive bidder for the project by more than a million dollars, per a staff report to the Board.
“The four new transit stations coming to the Pike are the critical first step in the larger multi-modal project that will enhance transit along the Pike, and bring us one step closer to providing connectivity between the Columbia Pike Corridor, Crystal City and the new Amazon HQ2,” Kim Klingler, the new Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, told the Sun Gazette.
County staff will attend 10 community events like the Pike’s farmer market, movie nights at Arlington Mill, and the Blues Festival to talk with residents about the project, per the report.
“The feedback received from the public thus far has been generally positive,” the staff report notes. “However, concerns about disruption to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during construction have been expressed. Other concerns noted include sun and weather protection.”
Construction on the four bus stops could finish as early as spring 2020, but officials have not yet shared when they expect contracts to be awarded for the remaining stations.
After over a year of work, the new bus and slug lanes are finally open at the Pentagon’s south parking lot.
Yesterday (Tuesday), the new configuration opened with bus-only travel lanes, reconfigured commuter lanes and slug lanes — lanes designed for High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpooling.
The new, dedicated bus loop is designed to distance passenger vehicles and buses to make the lot safer and increase mobility.
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An average of 25,000 employees use the Pentagon lots, with more than 1,800 buses and 3,400 “sluggers” passing through the lot each day, according to the press release.
Other improvements include new pedestrian sidewalks, new signage, and new lighting.
Image via National Capital Planning Commission
Arlington Transit’s real-time bus tracking service has been plagued by more technical difficulties this week, and county officials say they’re still unsure when they’ll find a permanent fix.
ART notified riders Wednesday morning (Jan. 16) that it was experiencing “intermittent problems” with the service, which is designed to let riders know how long they need to wait for another bus to arrive.
The county’s bus service sent out a similar advisory on Jan. 7, and on two different occasions in October as well. Last April, the bus service even saw several days-long outages of the system.
County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet told ARLnow that Arlington’s Transit Bureau is currently in contact with the vendor who manages the software, California-based Connexionz. Balliet said the company is currently investigating the “GPS communication system,” which it believes to be the source of the problems, but there’s no end in sight at the moment.
“Our Transit Bureau is pressing the vendor to come up with a permanent solution to the problem, but we don’t have a timeline on when the issue will be resolved,” Balliet wrote in an email.
As of Friday afternoon, however, ART’s real-time arrivals web page was generally working as intended.
ART has also dealt with some problems with its phone system to connect disabled and elderly riders to bus service this past summer, not to mention a host of bus maintenance woes necessitating some service disruptions.
Arlington Transit will start running a new bus route to better connect Ballston and Shirlington later this month.
Starting Dec. 17, the bus service will introduce a “72” route, running from N. Glebe Road’s intersection with Old Dominion Drive in Rock Spring to the intersection of S. Quincy Street and S. Randolph Street near the Village at Shirlington. Buses will run every 20 minutes during rush hours and every 30 minutes the rest of the day, according to ART’s website.
The transit agency first surveyed riders about the new route this fall, and it will use it to run buses through the Ballston Metro station, via both directions of George Mason Drive. ART also plans to run new buses along the route, some of which it acquired this summer.
The new 72 route will involve the creation of a total of eight new bus stops, including:
Northbound Bus Stops
Stop 1 – N. Glebe Road and in front of the Marymount Admissions Building
Stop 2 – N. Glebe Road and 32nd Street N.
Stop 3 – N. Glebe Road and N. Albermarle Street
Stop 4 – N. Glebe Road and N. Abingdon Street
Southbound Bus Stops
Stop 5 – N. Glebe Road and 35th Road N.
Stop 6 – N. Glebe Road and 33rd Road N.
Stop 7 – N. Glebe Road and Rock Spring Road
Stop 8 – N. Glebe Road and Old Dominion Drive
The route will run from 5:58 am to 8:37 pm every weekday.