By Alex Block
From Metro Forward's facebook page (previously discussed on this blog), check out this great shot of a retro Metrobus:
By Angela Fox
Crystal City Metro Station CC image from mattgrimm.
Well before “Transit Oriented Development (TOD)” became the rage, Crystal City was already into its second generation of smart growth and development, with rail as a centerpiece. Comprised of more than 11 million square feet of commercial space, 11,000 residents, and nearly 5,000 hotel rooms all connected to Reagan National Airport, Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines, Virginia Railway Express, commuter bus lines, and regional cycling trails, Crystal City provides area commuters and travelers easy access to all of Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Pentagon, and other major population and employment centers throughout the region. This forward thinking has resulted in a greater than fifty percent modal split to non-single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) trips.
Arlington County government and area developers have committed to continue this valuable association with transit through the development of the Crystal City Sector Plan (large PDF file) which will guide development and investment in the area for the next 40 years. The plan calls for significant additional density in a way that is oriented to the pedestrian’s and transit-user’s perspective. To start, two new lines, the Crystal City-Potomac Yards Transitway and the Columbia Pike Street Car, are planned to further enhance accessibility and are close to breaking ground.
As Crystal City’s transformation is being planned, the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is working to enhance the transit experience today and for riders in the future. For all area events, the Crystal City BID actively promotes and encourages the use of alternative transportation, especially rail, by providing clear wayfinding for transit users. As a result, most attendees at area events travel by a mode other than private automobile.
In September of 2010, the Crystal City BID also participated in the roll out of the largest bike sharing system in the nation, further connecting Arlington with DC. Crystal City has enough stations bike sharing stations to extend the Metro’s transit shed beyond the traditional half-mile.
The Crystal City BID is also working to enhance the arrival and departure experience from the Crystal City Metro station by redesigning the Metro entrance plaza. Partnering with property owner, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the new plan features more open space, more attractive landscaping, and enhancements to the infrastructure to encourage people to sit and enjoy the new plaza. The space will also be activated with colorful artwork visible immediately as riders exit the station onto the plaza.
Art has also been used to enhance the experience for Crystal City residents and workers taking advantage of the area’s famous interior walkways. Seen as a valuable extension of Metro’s reach, more than 100 pieces of engaging, thought-provoking artwork, curated each year through a partnership with FotoDC, line the walkways and transform the experience. Another annual art project welcomes the thousands of daily riders of the Virginia Railways Express (VRE). Each spring, the Crystal City BID unveils a new series of sculptures in the VRE station area, bringing added interest and enhancing its attractiveness to the transit riders passing through.
As the transformation of Crystal City progresses, continued investment in transit and accessibility will be an absolute necessity for the area’s success. With the support of the area property owners, the Crystal City BID, and the County government, transit in the Crystal City area is sure to play a major role.
Angela Fox is the President / CEO of the Crystal City Business Improvement District
Digging into the Details: Development-Oriented Transit - Creation of an Infill Metrorail Station at New York and Florida Avenues
By Rick Rybeck
The two-mile distance between Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue was a long distance between stations in the heart of the Nation's Capital. Owners of derelict industrial properties in this area were unable to redevelop property because nearby roads were at capacity during rush hour and permitting agencies were unwilling to permit significant new development that would exacerbate this condition. So the owners petitioned for a new Metrorail station in the middle of this area. Hurdles to overcome were substantial:
Engineering - How to build a new station between existing stations on a busy line?
Multimodalism - The station location was an area intended for a hiker-biker trail. Would the trail be displaced?
Funding – How to pay for a very expensive undertaking when the District Government was not flush with cash?
Adjacent Streets – The new station was “landlocked” because the street grid did not extend to the station area. How would new streets be built and funded?
Equity – Although the station was surrounded by industrial land, several low-income African-American neighborhoods existed a few blocks away in all directions. Would the current residents of these neighborhoods benefit from the new station or be harmed by it?
I was a new employee of the Department of Public Works’ office of policy and planning when landowners petitioned the DC Government for a new transit station at this location. I suggested value capture as an appropriate funding tool. Responding to concerns from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, I also advocated for the inclusion of the displaced hiker-biker trail in the project, ensuring that it was integrated into the design and construction of the new station. I negotiated for adjacent landowners to construct new streets. I also cataloged a series of measures designed to prevent displacement of existing residents.
For more information about financing the New York Avenue Metrorail Station, see https://www.mwcog.org/uploads/committee-documents/k15fVl1f20080424150651.pdf
Rick Rybeck is the director of Just Economics, LLC. See http://www.justeconomicsllc.com
By Alex Block
The Washington, DC region benefits from a robust, multi-modal transit network. This network enables many residents to rely on transit for their transportation needs. Unfortunately, this reliance can create friction when required maintenance happens, slowing travel though the region. Riders depend on the reliability and availability of the system, but maintaining a reliable system requires maintenance, and maintenance sometimes requires track closures.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, more commonly known as Metro, recently embarked on a long-term maintenance and improvement plan known as Metro Forward. The six-year program includes $5 billion in improvements to the system - but it also includes an outreach and social media component (Facebook, Twitter). The Washington City Paper recently profiled Metro's new social media team.
So, what exactly happens during those maintenance periods? One of their new products have been documentation - videos, photos, descriptions - of the kind of work that goes on when your train is delayed for scheduled track maintenance.
By Will Handsfield
This Isn't Just Any Railvolution; This Is Railvolution DC
Thinking about heading to Washington this October for Railvolution?
We’ll be happy to welcome you to the Nation’s Capital and Railvolution DC.
Have you thought about how you’re planning on getting around town? We have been working hard to give you lots of options, and what better time than Railvolution to check out some transportation systems that you might not have thought about using before.
WMATA's Metrorail map
If I know this crowd, you’re pretty familiar with our world class Metrorail system. But have you considered trying our newest transportation system, Capital Bikeshare? Our bikesharing system is the largest in the United States, and inspiring new cyclists every day.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere to go. CaBi is one of the best ways to get to our next transportation innovation: the H Street streetcar. Scheduled to open next year, the line will run from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue. So head out along the new streetcar tracks on H street (keep your tires out of there!) to the CaBi station at 13th & H Streets Northeast and see the work in progress.
While you’re there, check out all the recent economic development along the corridor, stop for a bite to eat or grab a drink. On your way back to downtown, you can hop on the any of the westbound “X” buses. The H Street bus corridor is one of the busiest in the region, and is now home to the limited stop X9, one of several new regional corridors hosting faster buses.
Headed west, look left towards the north side of Union Station, soon to be home to Burnham Place, a large mixed use development that will be constructed in the air rights over the railroad tracks, or look to your right towards DC’s first infill Metro station at New York Ave and the new development around it in the NoMa District.
You’ve got some options on where to get off the bus. If you want to connect to Metro’s Red, Green, or Yellow lines, get off at Chinatown. There you can see what an arena on top of a metro station in the center of an entertainment district looks like. And don’t forget to stop in one of the region’s many free museums. The National Portrait Gallery also sits atop the station.
You can also stay on the bus until you get to 14th & I st, where you can hop on the Orange or Blue lines. But if you’ve only got a dollar in your pocket, try DC’s Circulator bus which features a route running north along 14th street, connecting to the neighborhoods of Logan Circle, U Street , Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, and finally to my neighborhood, Woodley Park.
All this is to say, the District of Columbia takes a great deal of pride in providing numerous high quality, interconnected transportation options that serve a variety of needs.
In coming posts, we’ll get into the details of each of them and how they interact with our wonderful neighborhoods, business districts, and entertainment centers. In the meantime, consider blocking out some time during your visit to do some exploring of our wonderful city. We’ve worked really hard to provide a transportation system that will make it easy for you.
This blog is a the collective work of various Rail~Volution organizers, presenters, speakers, and volunteers. During the coming months, we will use this space to post items of interest for conference-goers visiting DC, for local stakeholders interested in liveable communities, and for Rail~Volution participants to offer a preview of their content for the 2011 conference.