In the days leading up to Metro’s latest round of major track construction work, officials rolled out a series of grim warnings about what the work would mean for commuters on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines.
With the Blue Line completely shut down between Arlington Cemetery and D.C., and huge delays on the other two lines, Metro warned commuters to only choose the service if they didn’t have any other option. County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey even predicted “extreme crowding” and “incredible chaos” at station platforms along D.C.’s urban core.
Now, with the major track work set to last several more days yet before wrapping up Sunday, the question becomes: how accurate were those gloomy predictions?
Whether you’re a Metro rider braving those conditions, or looking to avoid them on a bus or in a car, we want to know: has the track work meaningfully impacted your commute since last Saturday (Aug. 11)?
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.
(Updated at 10 a.m.) Arlington is getting ready to seek nearly $78 million in state transportation funding to build a second entrance at the Crystal City Metro station.
The County Board is considering submitting the project for “Smart Scale” funding, money handed out by the Commonwealth Transportation Board for big-ticket projects around the state. If approved, Arlington would have the money it needs to add an eastern entrance to the station at the northwest corner of the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S., perhaps by sometime in 2024.
The county has spent years studying the prospect of a second entrance to ease access to the Crystal City station, particularly as planners project substantial increases in housing development in the area over the next few decades, with or without Amazon’s potential arrival. The project would also include two street-level elevators and a new underground passageway and mezzanine to reach the Metro platform.
Yet the county has hit some roadblocks when it comes to finding funding for the $91 million project.
Arlington’s recent budget woes, brought on by declining commercial tax revenues and new funding obligations for Metro service, means that the county will need to rely on outside funding for the second entrance. The county expected to get most of that money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional body that funds major transportation improvements.
But the NVTA recently told the county that it can only chip in about $5 million towards design work for the project, as the group adjusts its own funding plans after losing out on tens of millions in annual revenue as a result of a deal to provide dedicated funding to Metro.
That forced Arlington officials to turn to the statewide “Smart Scale” program to for funding, an outcome local lawmakers predicted as a result of the NVTA losing out on money as part of the Metro deal. The county is similarly concerned about how it might pay for second entrances at the Ballston and East Falls Church stations in the coming years due to these same factors, but officials only chose to submit the Crystal City project for “Smart Scale” money.
State transportation officials will evaluate the Crystal City entrance against other projects across the state, and award funding based on factors like how much congestion they will relieve and how much economic development they’ll spur. Should Arlington win the full $78 million it’s asking for, county officials plan to use the NVTA money and some local tax revenue to fund the remainder of the project’s cost, according to a staff report.
The county also plans to submit three more projects, with a total cost of roughly $10.1 million, for “Smart Scale” funding.
Those include the expansion of Transitway service in the Crystal City area, the installation of new equipment and software to create a demand-based pricing system for county parking meters and the procurement of software to better manage Arlington Transit (ART) bus service.
More on the parking meter proposal:
Performance Parking Deployment in Commercial Corridors ($6.1 million)
This project will install equipment and software to support demand-based pricing of on-street meters and improved public information about parking availability. On-street parking is limited by the finite length of curb on County streets and competing curb uses while offstreet parking is very expensive to build. Given these limitations, it is critical that the parking supply is managed effectively. Modern parking technology enables a much more efficient management of the system. County policy, as stated in the Master Transportation Plan’s Parking and Curb Space Management Element, supports the use of multi-space meters and other high performing technologies. The project will support the installation of hardware and software to monitor and display occupancy, turnover, and parked duration information from the curbside metered spaces and County owned and operated off-street facilities in order to support demand-based pricing of on-street meters and improved public information about parking availability.
The County Board will formally vote to endorse these “Smart Scale” applications at its meeting this Saturday (July 14).
Photo via Arlington County
Arlington likely won’t be able to add a second entrance at the East Falls Church Metro station until sometime in the 2030s, as county officials re-examine their funding priorities for the next decade.
The county has hoped for years to build a western entrance to improve pedestrian access to the station, particularly with plans to someday re-develop the parking lot and properties surrounding the station.
But the project’s roughly $96 million price tag makes it difficult to afford as officials grapple with a tight revenue picture. County Manager Mark Schwartz is proposing delaying any funding for the second entrance until at least fiscal year 2028 in his new ten-year Capital Improvement Plan.
“Given the pipeline of existing, high-priority stations, it really made sense to move this out,” county transportation director Dennis Leach told the County Board during a work session last Tuesday (June 26).
Schwartz is calling for the county to dedicate $8.8 million in state and regional transportation dollars for design work at the station starting in 2028, pushing back any construction spending indefinitely. The Board’s last CIP, approved in 2016, called for the planning process to start in fiscal year 2022, and construction to start in 2024.
As Leach mentioned, the county is eyeing second entrances at both the Crystal City and Ballston Metro stations as well, and officials are also struggling to fund those efforts as the county copes with increased Metro spending to provide the service with dedicated annual funding.
Complicating matters further is that the county was hoping the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a group that hands out money for transportation improvements around the region, would be able to fund the bulk of the construction of all three projects. But the same dedicated funding deal for Metro involved pulling away about $80 million from the NVTA each year, meaning the group is scaling back how much money it can offer all but the most large-scale projects.
“We can’t do them alone,” Leach said.
For the East Falls Church Metro entrance, the county was hoping to earn about $57.2 million from the NVTA. But with the group barely able to find any money for the Crystal City project, and no money for the Ballston second entrance, the county doesn’t have any clear sense for where to find funding for East Falls Church if its fiscal situation doesn’t improve.
That’s not to say that the county is abandoning the project, however.
Sarah Crawford, the county’s assistant director of transportation, told the Board that she fully expects the East Falls Church entrance “would score well” and earn money generated by the tolls on I-66 inside the Beltway. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission hands out some of that revenue as part of its “Commuter Choice” program for local transportation improvements, and Crawford said the county plans to submit the East Falls Church project for consideration in the coming months.
Karen Finucan Clarkson, a spokeswoman for the NVTC, says the group finished its most recent round of funding through the program last month, but will solicit a new round of projects “this fall, most likely in October.” The NVTC would then select its preferred projects sometime next spring, and the county is hoping to win roughly $6.6 million in funding for the effort.
Meanwhile, Leach also noted that the county will probably apply for more state funding through the “SmartScale” program for the Crystal City entrance project — applications are due by Aug. 1.
The County Board is set to vote on its final CIP by July 14.
Arlington officials worry that their plans to build a second entrance to Ballston Metro station could stall and be delayed indefinitely if the county and WMATA can’t make progress soon.
To get a move on and finally construct a western entrance for the highly trafficked station, county leaders say they need millions more in funding, and they’ve had trouble tracking down that money.
Arlington asked for $72 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to help pay for design work and construction, but the regional group passed over the project entirely in its new six-year funding plan. Without that cash, County Board Chair Katie Cristol worries that the roughly $25 million Arlington’s already received in state transportation funding for the project could go up in smoke, throwing its future in jeopardy.
“We have not spent down… very much of the design funds that have already been awarded,” Cristol told ARLnow. “I don’t think it’s imminent that they’re about to be clawed back if we don’t make progress. But I think they could be, especially in a time where resources are constrained everywhere.”
Cristol, Arlington’s representative to the NVTA, says the group ultimately chose not to award more money for the Ballston project because its leaders just didn’t see enough forward momentum on design work for the effort.
“We’re a little stuck, and we do need to show progress,” Cristol said.
It doesn’t help matters, as Cristol pointed out, that the group will lose roughly $80 million a year as a consequence of the deal to provide dedicated annual funding to the Metro system, and has had to scale back how many projects it will fund around the region.
Even still, the NVTA was able to send the county $5 million to pay for additional design work on a second entrance for the Crystal City Metro station, falling far short of the county’s $87 million request but still helping push the project forward.
What set the Ballston project apart from Crystal City, Cristol notes, is the work the county still needs to do with Metro to draw up what the construction will actually entail. Broadly, officials know they’d like to build another entrance near the intersection of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street to improve access to the spate of new developments on N. Glebe Road.
Beyond that, however, Cristol says the county and Metro need to work out the details. As WMATA grapples with the existential issue of how to bump up service levels and lure riders back to the system, Cristol worries Ballston could get lost in the shuffle.
“It’s not opposition to the project,” Cristol said. “I don’t even think it’s a sense that the project is too complicated, it’s just a bandwidth problem.”
WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld warned County Board members at a Tuesday (June 26) work session that the Ballston project is not without its challenges.
He expects that construction at such a busy station would have “huge impacts on service,” noting that Metro would likely need to build a “temporary platform” while work proceeded. Wiedefeld reiterated his commitment to the project, but he also told the Board that he’d like to see a lot more preliminary work done with such consequences for Orange and Silver line riders at stake.
“We need to make a commitment together that we’re going to spend dollars on it, look at this in detail and make some hard decisions on what will come out of that,” Wiedefeld said. “I’m not comfortable with any of the costs that been bantered around, to be frank, without that level of engineering.”
That sort of tone struck Cristol as good news, even as she urged Metro to address the project sooner rather than later. Fundamentally, she believes additional access to the Ballston station will help WMATA meet its goals of boosting ridership once more, so it should become a natural priority for Wiedefeld and company.
“I do believe this is a project that is good for Metro,” Cristol said. “It would help them get new riders, when they need them the most.”
Arlington is now in line to receive nearly $83 million in funding to help the county afford four major transportation projects over the next six years, including the construction of two bus maintenance facilities and a major expansion of transit options in Pentagon City.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority announced its new Six Year Program today (Friday), outlining the regional body’s plans to shell out a total of nearly $1.3 billion for transportation projects through 2024. The NVTA collects a select set of regional taxes, then identifies which construction efforts around the region are most likely to reduce in congestion before doling out money to help localities fund them.
State lawmakers recently decided to pull tens of millions of dollars away from the group each year, in favor of sending the money to Metro as part of the new dedicated funding agreement for the rail service. That’s constricted the NVTA’s ability to hand out funding for transportation projects, much to the chagrin of officials across Northern Virginia, but the group still has the capacity to help pay for 44 different projects around the region.
In Arlington, that includes:
- $39 million for two new Arlington Transit operations and maintenance facilities
- $28.8 million for Pentagon City road improvements and Transitway expansion
- $10 million for improved traffic signals around the county
- $5 million for a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station
Notably, the NVTA declined to award additional funding to one of the county’s other top priorities: a second entrance to the Ballston Metro station. Arlington previously received $12 million from the group to start work on the effort, and was looking for another $72.3 million to make the project a reality, but NVTA leaders warned that such a project was unlikely to win out over other efforts more focused at relieving traffic congestion.
The $5 million for the second entrance at the Crystal City station is also substantially less than the $87 million the county requested to complete the project. County Manager Mark Schwartz has previously warned that Arlington’s funding challenges will make it difficult for the county to build both second entrances without the NVTA’s help, but the $5 million will help the county complete additional design, engineering and environmental work.
Those issues aside, the NVTA did manage to fund the bulk of the county’s request for the new ART facilities, the top priority for Arlington officials this year. The county is planning to spend a total of $98.4 million on additional facilities for buses over the coming years — a new “heavy maintenance” facility in Springfield and an “operations center” along Shirlington Road.
ART believes those new facilities are necessary as the bus service prepares to accommodate significantly higher ridership by 2026. ART buses have also experienced a series of mechanical problems over the last few weeks.
In Pentagon City, the NVTA money will help the county fund a $46.6 million effort to improve the area running from Army Navy Drive near the Pentagon City mall to the Crystal City Metro station off Route 1. The project will involve adding new bike lanes and turning lane throughout the area, as well as an expansion of the Transitway service to the Pentagon City Metro station and Army Navy Drive.
The service, which involves buses running in dedicated lanes, currently ends at 15th Street S., and officials hope expanding it will better connect the area to Columbia Pike.
Finally, the NVTA is sending $10 million to the county for “intelligent transportation system improvements,” which will include upgrades to traffic lights to reduce traffic and improve safety for pedestrians at select intersections. The improvements are slated for lights along Washington Boulevard and Columbia Pike, as well as throughout Crystal City.
Outside of Arlington, some of the NVTA’s largest funded projects include the widening of Route 1 in Fairfax County and improvements to Route 28 in Prince William County.
Seems like *everyone* wants to get aboard the @Capitals train this morning! (Crystal City Station, 8:30 a.m. today — this little guy somehow wandered into the tunnel & ended up at the station. Safely exited through the tunnel back toward DCA.) #OHDEER #ALLCAPS #WMATA #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/3ibeGuYwUe
— Metro (@wmata) June 12, 2018
Some commuters at the Crystal City Metro station were surprised to look up their phones this morning and see a deer running past them.
The deer “somehow wandered into the tunnel and ended up at the station” around 8:30 a.m., according to Metro. Video posted by the transit agency shows the deer running around the station, startling commuters who were otherwise glued to their smartphones.
“Seems like *everyone* wants to get about the @Capitals train this morning,” the Metro account quipped. Meanwhile, East Falls Church and other Metro parking lots are completely full due to riders heading to the Caps victory parade downtown.
— Berkeley Teate (@BerkeleyCTeate) June 12, 2018
Nearly a year after Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance blitz wrapped up, Arlingtonians still haven’t returned to the transit system, new data show.
An ARLnow analysis of figures compiled by WMATA and released to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission shows that ridership at Arlington’s 11 Metro stations fell by about 4.1 percent in the first three months of 2018 when compared to the same time frame last year.
Back in early 2017, WMATA was right in the midst of SafeTrack, with large sections of Metro lines closed temporarily and substantial headways for passengers, even at rush hour. But the ridership numbers suggest that any Arlington riders dissuaded from hopping on Metro during the heavy maintenance work have yet to embrace the rail service once more.
ARLnow’s analysis also shows Metro ridership in the county has dropped by about 13.4 percent compared to the same time frame in 2016, before SafeTrack work began.
Metro officials and county leaders say they’re not overly disturbed by these numbers, noting that WMATA ridership as a whole only fell by 1 percent when comparing the first three months of this year to 2017. Yet they also acknowledge that other transportation options are steadily luring riders away from Metro, and that these declining ridership numbers may be a symptom of problems in the county beyond WMATA’s woes.
“This really indicates how our transportation network is being disrupted in ways not just associated with Metro,” said Christian Dorsey, the vice chair of the Arlington County Board and a member of the Metro Board of Directors, while adding that “we’re not going to overreact to the numbers we see in one quarter.”
Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that ridership in Arlington generally “reflects the ridership trends systemwide.” She says Metro has broadly found that “peak periods are performing less poorly, however off-peak (especially evening) ridership is down much more steeply,” after SafeTrack.
WMATA leaders “are confident that by providing safe, reliable service, Metro can win back riders who may have changed their travel patterns during SafeTrack,” Ly added. Yet she did acknowledge that a handful of different factors have prompted large ridership drops at several Arlington stations this year.
Metro observed one of the largest declines in riders at the Ballston station in the first three months of the year, with a more than 8 percent decline from the same period last year. Ballston also recorded a nearly 20 percent drop in ridership from 2016 to 2018, the largest of any Arlington station over the same time period.
Ly believes that’s largely due to ridership dropping on weekends, “when service is truncated from Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston for track work,” a frequent occurrence for Silver Line riders.
Along the Blue Line, however, there could be more systemic problems.
The station at Reagan National Airport recorded the largest drop of any Arlington location from 2017 to 2018, with a roughly 10.8 percent decrease. Ridership there also declined by 17.5 percent there since 2016, the second largest drop in the county.
Other nearby stations like Crystal City and Pentagon City also have recorded large drops since 2016, to the tune of 12.9 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively.
Ly believes SafeTrack encouraged riders along the Blue and Yellow lines in the area to “permanently switch to Metroway, other local buses and [Virginia Railway Express], where ridership on these routes have stayed up post-SafeTrack.”
But Arlington officials believe their trouble attracting, and keeping, businesses in Crystal City has also contributed to the problem.
“We’ve had a 20 percent office vacancy rate in Crystal City, so it makes sense,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “Part of the reason traffic hasn’t increased and Metro ridership is falling is there are fewer people going to jobs there… Having less density than we planned for can be just as detrimental as having more density than we planned for.”
Dorsey agrees that “underemployment” in the area is cause for concern for county leaders — Arlington’s falling tax revenues are due in no small part to problems building up the commercial property tax base, after all. Cristol even floated the possibility of revisiting the area’s sector plan to have a better county framework for solving this particular problem.
But Dorsey stressed that simply bringing more business to Crystal City won’t address all of Metro’s problems, as he feels the “station-to-station dynamics don’t tell the larger narrative of Metro, per se.”
“Some of the overall circumstances surrounding ride-sharing, the increasing use of telework… it’s causing a lot of churn,” Dorsey said.
Ly believes companies like Uber and Lyft are “negatively impacting ridership, especially during off-peak times,” when maintenance work is most likely to cause long headways.
That’s why Dorsey believes following the course outlined by Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, and putting a special focus on improving WMATA’s infrastructure, is the surest path to getting the system back on track. Metro will have an extra $500 million in dedicated annual funding from Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to work with, after all, and Dorsey is willing to be patient to see what that money means for WMATA.
“We know making Metro incredibly safe, easy to find and attractive once you’ve gotten there, are the things you need to do to attract riders,” Dorsey said. “Not everybody has come back yet, but we’re working on it.”
File photo (top). Charts via NVTC.
Arlington County could soon embark on a $1.8 million effort to replace four elevators around Courthouse.
The County Board will vote at its meeting this weekend on a plan to fully overhaul two elevators in Arlington’s Court Square West building (1400 N. Uhle Street) and two more that connect to the Courthouse Metro station underground.
All four elevators have “reached the end of their useful lives,” according to a report prepared by county staff.
The elevators in Court Square West, a building that holds some county offices, travel seven stories each. The Metro station elevators travel just two stories, and are located at each end of an underground access tunnel linking to the station — one is at 2200 Clarendon Boulevard, the other at 2111 Wilson Boulevard.
The County Board is set to vote to award a contract for the work on Saturday (May 19), as part of its “consent agenda,” which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items that are approved all at once.
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
Beyer’s GOP Challenger Holding Arlington Event — “Republican congressional candidate Thomas Oh will host a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, April 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spider Kelly’s, 3181 Wilson Blvd. Oh is the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), who is seeking a third term. He was the only Republican to file for the nomination.” [InsideNova]
Local Scenes on Sale at Arts Fest — Among the artists at the upcoming Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon will be Joseph Craig English, whose “silkscreens and lithographs capture local landmarks and street corners in vivid colors,” including “an architectural juxtaposition of old buildings and new construction in Courthouse; Potomac River vistas; local murals and street signs known to commuters who’ve passed by them for years.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington Tourism Surtax Gets Gov’s Signature — “The Arlington County government will be able to continue collecting a surtax on hotel stays to pay for tourism promotion, now that Gov. Northam has signed legislation extending the measure for three more years.” [InsideNova]
Don’t Try This at Home — Per scanner traffic, police officers responding to a call yesterday afternoon were advised that “the suspect is known for using hand sanitizer as an alcoholic drink.”
Nearby: Alexandria OKs More Funding for Metro Station — “Plans to build a new Metro station at Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Virginia, took a crucial step forward Tuesday. Alexandria City Council unanimously approved raising the budget from $268 million to $320 million. The change was made in part to reflect the rising cost of materials and labor.” [WTOP]
Photo by Dwayne Stewart
Crystal City will be getting a new, 43,900 square foot plaza called Metro Market Square, according to county planning documents.
Plans for the plaza cite Boston’s Faneuil Hall as inspiration and include retail businesses, small water features, chess tables, and a options for outdoor entertainment.
The market building’s roof would include solar panels and “artistic wind turbines,” and the park’s sidewalks would range from 17.5-19 feet wide. A new Crystal City Metro station east entrance at the plaza would be located at Crystal Drive and 18 Street S.
The parcel, referred to as “block G,” is “generally bounded by 15th Street S. to the north, Crystal Drive to the east, 18th Street S. to the south and U.S. Route 1 to the west,” according to the county website.
Planners are cognizant of shadow issues as well, calling for no more than 55 percent of the park to be in shadow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on equinoxes and no more than 59% in shadow in the fall.
A community open house will be held on March 21 from 7-9 p.m. for residents to view the details. An online feedback survey will be conducted from March 19-28, though a link to the survey is not yet available.
The block plan is part of the larger Crystal City Sector Plan, passed in 2010, which includes a new two-acre park called Center Park, 7,500 new residential units, and a “transformation of Jefferson Davis Highway into an urban boulevard.”
Screenshots via Arlington County
The East Falls Church Metro station could get more bus stops in the future, if the Virginia Department of Transportation agrees to an Arlington County plan.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday (December 16) to ask VDOT to redraw a limited access line for I-66 next to the Metro station’s park and ride lot, and make it parallel to the highway.
The highway’s limited access lines restrict uses on some of the land that surrounds it, which is intended to make the highway safer and easier to maintain. The land in question bounded by the line is currently used as a park and ride bus loop.
Metrobus and Fairfax Connector are planning more bus service connecting the station to Seven Corners, while Alexandria is exploring a bus rapid transit service to Tysons Corner, with a stop at the East Falls Church Metro station. Staff said the growth of bus service means this change is necessary.
“It is because of these myriad transit pressures, as well as ongoing coordination with VDOT related to moving more people more efficiently, that the County is requesting a change in the limited access line to allow for more land that can be used for purposes other than highway needs at the East Falls Church Metrorail Station,” staff wrote in a report. “By enacting this shift now, the County can feasibly plan, with its partners, for future bus-to-rail transfer capacity at the East Falls Church Metrorail station on land that is now used as a park and ride facility, and that will be used as a park and ride facility for the foreseeable future.”
Because VDOT owns the land, it has the final say on any line shifts.
Photo (top) via Arlington County, (bottom) courtesy Elvert Barnes
As part of an expansion to 24 more stations, users at Rosslyn, Clarendon, Courthouse, Crystal City will now be able to access the free wireless internet. Free Wi-Fi is now offered at 30 underground Metro stations throughout the system.
Metro said it expects that all other underground Metro stations — which includes the likes of Ballston, Virginia Square and Pentagon City — to have free Wi-Fi by mid-2018.
And for those riding Metrorail on New Year’s Eve, special late-night service will run until 2 a.m. for those returning from festivities. And in addition, track work will be suspended from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve through closing New Year’s Day.
“We are pleased to offer extended hours on Metrorail during New Year’s Eve as a service to our customers who will be ringing in the New Year,” Metro general manager/CEO Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement. “I also want to thank our employees who will be working to provide the public with a safe and responsible option to get around.”
Stepped Up Drunk Driving Enforcement — During the holidays, from Dec. 13-31, Arlington County Police will be increasing DUI patrols as part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign. [Arlington County]
Step Forward in Plan for Second Rosslyn Station — “Metro officials are taking a small but symbolic step in their hope of someday building a second station in Rosslyn. On Thursday, the Metro board is expected to approve an application to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to request $2 million in grant money that would help the agency study ways to increase capacity on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines in Northern Virginia.” [Washington Post]
More on Freddie’s Award — The Arlington Human Rights Commission is scheduled to present their 2017 Human Rights Awards today. Among the winners was Crystal City staple Freddie’s Beach Bar. Owner Freddie Lutz said of the award: “I’m just extremely honored having grown up in Arlington County and went from elementary school to high school in Arlington County to be recognized in this way.” [Washington Blade]
Grumbles About Delivery Trucks on the Pike — Delivery trucks often park on Columbia Pike, blocking one of two, including during rush hour. Frustration over delivery trucks parking on the Pike led one resident to tweet a short video illustrating the issue. [Twitter]