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2003 WMATA expansion map

When I went to interview Jack Evans, I discovered this map which hangs in his office. It's a 2003 map, apparently produced by WMATA, showing the Silver Line and a potential separated Blue Line alignment. Blue Line maps, such as this one in the Post, never showed a lot of detail about station locations; this one does.

Click to enlage.

Of course, just because WMATA produced it doesn't mean they'll definitely put stations in these places (if the line were ever even built), but it's an interesting window into their thinking at the time. Despite what some have hypothesized, this line does go down H Street (the logical place). I still prefer merging the new back into the current one at River Terrace over a connection at Stadium-Armory. The former enables routing trains in from the east onto either line. On the other hand, since the segment around Stadium-Armory is actually north-south, this arrangement could allow eastbound trains on the Blue Line to immediately continue westbound on the Orange and vice versa.

This map shows no direct transfer at Union Station, since it's fairly far from H to the Red Line platforms, though I hope they'd try to build a tunnel. There doesn't appear to be a transfer at the Convention Center either, possibly for the reasons discussed here. Making the transfers work would enormously increase the value of the line, and ought to be a part of any plan. Finally, a station at Thomas Circle would be really useful.

Of course, tunnels and stations add cost. A new subway line would cost billions, anyway (not unlike new or widened freeways as our suburban jurisdictions are still building). Is light rail more important? Can we have both? Would Virginia pay for much of the line, since it adds capacity in from the west? Will federal spending priorities change if we have an Obama-Biden administration? We can hope.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Why the hell would they even consider building a station at North Capitol & H Streets or the DC Armory and what the hell is the IMF

Are they talking about the International Monetary Fund if so why is the station north of Foggy Bottom and who in the hell would build a DC Armory station when stadium armory is directly infront of the armory so why would a DC Armory station be north of stadium armory

Who designed the map a 5th grader, the only good stations I see on the map are Georgetown , 8th & Hstreets , & Bladensburg RD/Maryland Avenues.

by kk on Sep 5, 2008 2:24 pm • linkreport

hope, i think, is all we have - good luck getting VA to pay for anything that benefits NOVA.

by jenny on Sep 5, 2008 2:37 pm • linkreport

Why don't they consider going south of Springfield, to Woodbridge? Their are several VRE commuters who get on at Woodbridge or south and get off at Franconia/Springfield? VRE service is much more limited than METRO.

by Davin Peterson on Sep 5, 2008 2:39 pm • linkreport


The map is a concept. There are many other concepts floating around out there. Don't get too flustered. There has been no engineering or formal studies. They just through the names in there to give a general idea.

by Cavan on Sep 5, 2008 2:40 pm • linkreport

They should try to fill in some of the gaps within dc so that you dont have to travel downtown if you dont need to

Build a line goin east to west that is north of the yellow & green line so that if your coming silver spring, takoma, ft. totten etc and going to Cleveland park, udc,tenleytown, or friendship hgts or somewhere else on the northwestern side of the red line you dont have to go south then west then back north when you could go just west

Build a line that could connect to the blue orange and green instead of having to go to leEnfant plaza that could come closer to the huge empty space in SE inbetween Capital Hgts, Benning Rd, The Anacostia River, Congress Hgts, Anacostia station and Southern Ave (station & avenue)

by kk on Sep 5, 2008 3:00 pm • linkreport


The IMF headquarters is north of Foggy Bottom.

Metro and the Maryland MTA are currently designing the lines in question that you suggested. The first is called the Purple Line. The second is a streetcar line already being built in its first phase.

by Daniel M. Laenker on Sep 5, 2008 3:17 pm • linkreport

It is a very interesting map.

Generally speaking, developing the Western Silver Line Spur line seems to be moving forward. I think this is excellent as it will integrate Tyson's and Dulles into the City and create better linkages across the region.

What I feel we do not need much of is more stations in the downtown area. If I had to make a suggestion (or two) to Metro as to where the next focus of development it be be creating express linkages between outer stations (for example, travelling between Huntington, Branch Avenue and Largo with only 5 or 6 stops, rather than 10 or 12); OR I would suggest building a tunnel that went directly from Rosslyn to Metro Center (and completing a Pedestrian Tunnel between Metro Center and Gallery Place). Our Metro system needs express service, particularly on the Western Orange/Silver, Southern Green, and both branches of the Red.

by Phil on Sep 5, 2008 3:24 pm • linkreport

Couple thoughts:

Two stations in Georgetown? Really? Presumably there would be one at Key Bridge and M (although I still think there are major engineering difficulties in that, since M is basically sitting on a cliff at that spot) and M and Wisconsin. That seems way too close.

Also, I would hope a Union Station "North" metro stop would be incorporated in the Union Station 2.0 model that they're begining to think about. Particularly since Ackridge is building over the tracks there.

Rosslyn Transit Center? Ugh. What a terrible name. I would hope they could do better than that.

Also, wouldn't the plan be to route all Blue Line trains on the new course? It's just a little confusing since they've kept the old route too.

by Reid on Sep 5, 2008 3:41 pm • linkreport


Express service wouldn't attract too many new riders - certainly not enough to justify the massive cost of new tunnels to accommodate that service. Now, if you're building new tunnels and new downtown stations, you're increasing the coverage area of the system as well as easing congestion.

The simple reality is this - because of the interlining, adding more capacity in downtown means each of the outer lines will also increase in capacity. A new blue line through downtown doubles the capacity of the Silver/Orange line through Arlington.


I'd imagine that the old blue line is still on there because they seem to have just taken an old map and modified it - I'll bet removing the old blue line was more work than they would have liked.

I, too, would hope that an H street/Union Station station would be integrated. I think it's easily possible - there's already an unused ped tunnel (now storage) from the north faregates at Union Station towards H Street. Combine that with the new Blue and the Akridge decking of the rail tracks, and you've got a nice little thing going on there.

I also think they need more transfers off the new Blue to the existing lines. At a minimum, proximate stations need to have the out of station transfers currently discussed for the Farraguts, but I think ped tunnels would be quite useful for the other transfers.

by Alex B. on Sep 5, 2008 3:51 pm • linkreport

"Express service wouldn't attract too many new riders - certainly not enough to justify the massive cost of new tunnels to accommodate that service"

I have wondered in the past whether it wouldn't be possible to have express service for the Silver line east of Falls Church. If they kept the Silver Line routed on I-66 all the way to Rosslyn, they could either merge it there, or perhaps send it down the blue line tracks to then cross the 14th street bridge. Seeing as so much downtown development has moved east, it seems to make more sense to route people that way.

If this were possible, then the inevitable Orange Crush could be avoided. As it is, I see an utter catastophe awaiting the Orange Line if something is not done to increase capacity through the Potomac tunnel.

by Reid on Sep 5, 2008 4:43 pm • linkreport

the advantage of a River Terrace station would that it could help reshape the RFK stadium site, if DC can get the land from the National Park Service. The Spingarn Campus north of Benning has the ability to add mixed use development(the City on the Hill Campus idea put forth by the U Michigan Urban Design Studio about 4 or 5 years ago) and the RFK parking lots could be repurposed into housing and a modicum of retail (just neighborhood serving, not additional large amounts of s.f.).

Anyway, many of the comments here completely miss the point about added redundancy and capacity in the core of the system.

And I think the next step in blue line advocacy is suggesting a double tunnel...

Anyway, great find.

But I think most of the stations listed here would be integrated, like the north capitol and H street line. A big whole point of the blue line proposal was to add capacity at Union Station -- VRE and MARC offloading onto the subway really strains the station significantly. As those services expand, this will worsen. Likely the same at Connecticut and M.

And since the map was created, there is more going on in the area north of Mass Ave. so the alignment could be tweaked.

Anyway, it's important to look at this in terms of how it can possibly assist in the positive reshaping of land use. Stations at Bladensburg and Maryland next to Hechinger Mall and River Terrace station, could do that.

by Richard Layman on Sep 5, 2008 4:55 pm • linkreport


There is in fact a pedestrian tunnel running from the north mezzanine at Union Station to H Street. The tunnel is behind the pair of doors on the wall to the right of the station managers kiosk when one steps off the up escalator form the platform. The tunnel is around 500' long. It was built on the assumption that a future arena would be built east of North Capitol Street at H Street. The tunnel is presently being used as field storage for the maintenance and repair of escalator and elevators.

by John R Cambron on Sep 5, 2008 11:45 pm • linkreport

It strikes me as a poor planning technique to use the system diagram to plan subway routes, which gives no real sense of geographic location to the reader, which is important to seeing density and coverage when planning, much more so than when just navigating the city.

I think this is an interesting proposal, like most of the other official ones, but it seems to be dreaming small, and planning only one step at a time, where they should be setting short- and long-term goals, you know, planning.

by The King of Spain on Sep 6, 2008 2:39 pm • linkreport

Good point, King of Spain.

However, I don't think these plans are being crafted by looking at the schematic maps, but rather the schematic maps are used as a means to present the idea. Most people don't interpret the subway based on what streets they're running under, rather they do so by knowing that if I follow that colored line to that dot and get off there, I'll be where I want to go.

These kinds of maps are more for a quick snapshot of what service would look like, thus they are quickly intelligible and useful for building public support.

by Alex B. on Sep 6, 2008 7:43 pm • linkreport

i saw this map when the wilson building had their open house a couple weeks ago. it's inspiring to know that somewhere, somehow, in the institutional memory of wmata, someone is thinking of this.

by IMGoph on Oct 30, 2008 12:49 am • linkreport

The reality here is WMATA is working thru the logical states of development. It has worked out nicely for their operations planners that demand has shifted east. shifting half of the blue line trains in the peak hour to the yellow (and they should be just yellow) makes the job of stealing capacity now easy. But someday that borrowed capacity needs to be put back - hense the M Stret Line. Now the problem with the M St line is half of the capacity goes unused - because it shares tracks with the Yellow in VA. this is where the express tracks come in. Depending on how much demand there is for the Silver you could see the Blue and Silver use the new line. Or the silver all by itself if the express track is built. There is room on 66 for it and you could do some combination and build a turn around track east of Ballston. The one nice thing I like about the Silver to M Street is the connection with Union Station. But no matter what is decided the most important thing is flexibility. routing flexibility at Rosslyn to go via orange, blue or silver (exp) or via eye or M street on the western end of these lines, and all options to go to/from New Carroltion or Largo on the eastern end. It is really nice in NY when the E can go via the F or the F via the A or the 2 via the 5. It may be confusing - because as an industry transit people are not good at communicating, but having these options keeps service moving and anyone trying to get home when there is only one track knows the heartache.

by bob previdi on Dec 19, 2008 9:55 pm • linkreport

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