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Metro beyond 2025, part 2: The Blue Line to Georgetown

Yesterday, we discussed how Metro could grow its core capacity if it chooses to build a Rosslyn wye in the short run. Today we'll look at how a terminal for the Blue Line could fit into the picture.

Photo by tracktwentynine on Flickr.

Today, Rosslyn is the biggest bottleneck in the system, which will only get worse when the Silver Line opens. Three lines vie for space in one tunnel from Rosslyn eastward, which limits trains on the Blue, Orange, and Silver Lines.

Metro could relieve the pressure for now by either building a new terminal for the Blue Line at Rosslyn, or a "wye" to let some trains from Tysons go to Arlington Cemetery and farther south in Virginia. But in the long run, Metro needs more capacity over the Potomac River.

Post-2025 solutions with a Rosslyn terminal

The Rosslyn terminal would enable Blue Line trains to terminate at Rosslyn without interfering with the Orange or Silver Lines. This would allow more Orange and Silver trains from Tysons and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. But it also means that all Blue Line riders going to DC would need to transfer at Rosslyn or Pentagon.

That solution might work for a few years, but if Metro ridership continues to grow, the Rosslyn terminal would need to become the first phase of a new Potomac crossing.

A separated Blue Line: Metro could easily expand a Rosslyn Terminal into a new line to DC. A likely path would take the line under the river to Georgetown and then east into the downtown core.

In addition to the 26 trains per hour (TPH) running between Rosslyn and Downtown on the Orange/Silver subway, an a separated Blue Line to Georgetown and into downtown would allow 12-16 additional trains to cross the Potomac at Rosslyn.

This would increase the number of trains running between Virginia and DC per hour during the peak from 40 to 52.

However, because the Blue Line shares with the Yellow Line, the new subway across downtown Washington would only be able to operate at roughly half of its maximum capacity. That's probably fine in terms of ridership for a while (and off-peak for much longer), but in order to get the full potential out of the new line, it would need to be separated from the Yellow Line.

A separated Blue Line could also allow for more service on the Green Line through the Waterfront or Capitol Riverfront areas, which are quickly adding jobs. Metro could get some additional Green capacity by shifting some Huntington trains to the new Blue subway via Rosslyn (a sort of reverse Rush Plus).

Shifting some Huntington trains to run through Rosslyn would not increase the number of trains crossing the Potomac beyond what could cross under the first separated Blue Line scenario, but it would enable more service on the Green Line.

Two new subways?

What about both a separated Blue Line and a separated Yellow Line? Two new subways in the core would be very expensive. But if Metro wants to maximize the capacity on its system, it has to separate each line in the core.

One way to do this is to build a new terminal for the Blue Line at Pentagon. The Blue Line could have its own platforms, and trains from Franconia-Springfield (now all colored Yellow, or perhaps a new color) and Huntington would all cross the 14th Street bridge.

This would also have the advantage of reducing the amount of interlining in the system. With the lines no longer sharing with each other, delays wouldn't cascade across multiple lines if a train were to break down or some other mishap were to occur.

But the real issue is being able to have the flexibility to balance trains across the different lines. Right now, the Blue and Orange must be balanced based on ridership demand, as do the Green and Yellow. The problem is that Metro is bumping up against the absolute capacity of both subways.

With just a separated Blue, there would still be demand for a direct trip across the 14th Street Bridge. And once that demand outstrips Metro's ability to provide supply, Metro won't be able to do anything (because the Yellow shares with the Green). With just a separated Yellow, service between Pentagon and the western side of downtown is constrained by demand for the Orange/Silver.

At some point in the future, if Metro keeps growing, it may become necessary to build the other separated line. With both a separated Blue and a separated Yellow, the number of trains crossing the Potomac would increase to a maximum of 78.

Other improvements would probably be necessary to enable a full 26 trains per hour to run on the Green Line. It's not clear if the terminals at the end of each line could handle turning 26 trains each hour. Metro would probably need places for trains to turn around short of the terminals, like the pocket tracks at Silver Spring and Grosvenor on the Red Line. Alternatively, Metro could look into rebuilding the terminals, Branch Avenue and Greenbelt, with more capacity.

It's hard enough to say if we can get one new subway by 2040, given the funding picture today. But a second new subway might be in the cards farther down the line, and now is the time to start planning for it.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master's in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Greenbelt. Hes a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is a contract employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer. 


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"But if Metro wants to maximize the capacity on its system, it has to separate each line in the core."

I would love to see a look at and fantasy map that would show not only a separated blue line and separated yellow line, but ALSO a separated silver line. Obviously it would take DC finding oil under Columbia Heights, but it would be interesting to see what the potential would be with 5 completely separate lines. Metro 2100? One can dream.

"One way to do this is to build a new terminal for the Blue Line at Pentagon."

I imagine this would support a metro rail extension down columbia pike decades after this Pentagon addition is built.

by Jared Christian on Feb 8, 2013 10:26 am • linkreport

And to fund the construction of these new subways, we could raise the height limit a few stories downtown and use the added property tax revenue as security for the construction bonds.

by Eric F. on Feb 8, 2013 10:27 am • linkreport

"5 completely separate lines"

More like six! Silver, Red, Orange, Blue, Green, Yellow. *drools* I was thinking to myself, Boston is roughly the same size in the city proper and it manages four completely separated lines (Orange, Blue, Red, Green) - and Green can be counted in all sorts of interesting ways. They need expansion there, too, though, with a smaller population.

Anyways, moral of the story, separate ALL THE LINES. And open up new areas of DC to rail access. That alone should delay any need to raise height limits.

by MetroDerp on Feb 8, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

While I agree that we need more Potomac crossings, I wonder if it is efficient to have three lines cross at the same point from Rosslyn. That seems to be over doing it.

Why not split the Silver Line from the Orange and let it cross near Chain Bridge? In DC it could go up to AU, follow Mass Mass Ave down, and then go east and be a real new line north of downtown (roughly) following FL Ave or P St, and then RI or NY Ave. It would open up a whole new stretch of DC (and Arlington) for redevelopment and increased density.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

In the third map, wouldn't 26 Green Line trains stop at Mt. Vernon Square?

by Steven Harrell on Feb 8, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

Is there a possibility that there will be numbered trains on the same line, like in NYC, or will WMATA stick with different colors for each destination?

by Nick on Feb 8, 2013 10:37 am • linkreport

In a future where the blue line is split its not hard to imagine the Silver/Orange switching to just one color and have branching service.

by drumz on Feb 8, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

Has the problem of the depth of the Potomac at Georgetown (or the height of Rosslyn and Georgetown) been solved? Or would that blue line routing still require a really deep station under Georgetown and really expensive boring under the river?

by ah on Feb 8, 2013 10:41 am • linkreport

While I personally think it's crazy that there is no Metro station in Georgetown, I really think there would be significant local resident opposition to building one. That aside, I definitely think there is a need for another E-W axis downtown. Maybe something like Georgetown/Dupont/(Logan)/Shaw/Union Station/(northern Capital Hill area).

by Alan B. on Feb 8, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

Instead of terminating the separated Blue line at Pentagon, it might make sense to explore terminating it at Skyline. A subway under Columbia Pike was once envisioned (and there's at least a urban legend that some tunneling was done). You've already got high-density housing at Skyline. Yes, this would duplicate service of the new streetcar line, but if you only added the one stop, the street car would still serve a useful purpose for local traffic, with the subway carrying commuters and making it possible to further increase density at Bailey's Crossroads.

by c5karl on Feb 8, 2013 10:45 am • linkreport

@ah. Could the steep cliffs on both sides of the Potomac be used as an advantage? Maybe there is a route that can "punch out" of the Rosslyn cliffs, take a low bridge across the Potomac, and "punch in" to be shallowly underground again on the Georgetown side, without needing lots of land for a underground/elevated transition.

Of course, there are aesthetic concerns, but it could save a lot of money and make the Georgetown and Rosslyn stations closer to the surface.

by speaketh on Feb 8, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

Wasn't there talk of a Purple Line? How would that fit into the picture?

by Alan on Feb 8, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

Another option for making full use of the Yellow Line bridge after you separate the Yellow and Green Lines is to reroute the Blue Line over the Wilson Bridge and combine it with the Green Line. (Or build an entirely new route into DC.) You'd cross the Yellow Line at King Street or Eisenhower Ave and serve National Harbor and Oxon Hill. The bridge was built with the structural strength to carry 8-car Metro trains, so this has significant cost advantages over building a new river crossing.

Right now, this doesn't work well on the north side of the river, but as downtown expands eastward it may make more sense.

by Ben Ross on Feb 8, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

@Jasper.. I agree. A few weeks ago, when the WMATA study RE a new Yellow Line first came out, I was thinking the Yellow Line should continue north of Thomas Circle along 14th until about Euclid, along Euclid through Adams Morgan, and along Calvert to Woodley Park and Mass Avenue. From there, follow Mass Avenue to AU, and then cross the Potomac around the Sibley Hospital/Chain Link Bridge Area. That way a new Yellow would stretch from Tysons to South Arlington via midcity and downtown DC. (Maybe the new Blue should continue out of town along NY and RI Avenues?)

Then I got really creative, and decided to close the GW Parkway between Chain Link Bridge and Rosslyn, and run an express Silver Line (and parallel bike route) down that ROW, between Tysons and Rosslyn (continuing to the Pentagon and South Arlington). That's about when I decided that I'd probably best just forget about the whole thing. I don't think I have the stomach to be a partisan in the "War on Cars."

by Steven Harrell on Feb 8, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

"While I agree that we need more Potomac crossings, I wonder if it is efficient to have three lines cross at the same point from Rosslyn. That seems to be over doing it. "

It would give Rosslyn superior access to many areas, and thus make it viable as a more truely urban place.

"Why not split the Silver Line from the Orange and let it cross near Chain Bridge? In DC it could go up to AU, follow Mass Mass Ave down, and then go east and be a real new line north of downtown (roughly) following FL Ave or P St, and then RI or NY Ave. It would open up a whole new stretch of DC (and Arlington) for redevelopment and increased density."

Those sections of Arlington that would be "opened up" are ones where the residents do not want more density, and they would compete with ones better suited to high density development. That would also apply to at least some parts of Ward 3 that the line would pass through before hitting areas where SOME new development would take place. But even those areas will not be developed to the density of downtown DC, nor will they get the same high transit share. And that would NOT relieve the problem of congestion between NoVa and downtown DC.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 8, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

"Instead of terminating the separated Blue line at Pentagon, it might make sense to explore terminating it at Skyline. "

that does jump out as a possibility. terminating 26 trains an hour at Pentagon just begs for an extension, and thats a corridor with density, and potential for more, and its close enough in to make metro a very viable option. One could even run the 26 trains down Col Pike, then split - one line with 13 TPH to Shirlington, Mark Center, and Landmark (the route of the soon to be in place BRT line) and 13 TPH down western Col Pike to Baileys, and on to Annandale.

Thats all a long way off of course.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 8, 2013 11:01 am • linkreport

@c5karl: Ride in the front car of a Huntington or Franconia-Springfield bound train looking through the operator cab and ahead of the train through the front window. Just beyond Pentagon Station, you will see what was carved out for what supposedly was to be a possible rail line in the Columbia Pike corridor. I've seen this myself while riding the train. I read about this somewhere - something about making this partial cut out to appease Arlington County when the original system was being planned and/or constructed. Maybe someone else can chime in with more specifics. Sorry for being so vague.

by Transport. on Feb 8, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

The Purple Line is MTA not WMATA, Alan. It's light rail and would be a partial ring connecting Metrol rail lines in Maryland.

by selxic on Feb 8, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

@c5karl: I found where I read about the bellmouth: This was also covered in GGW in the past, I believe.

by Transport. on Feb 8, 2013 11:08 am • linkreport

@Transport: The stub tunnels toward Columbia Pike do exist, but in this hypothetical scenario the Columbia Pike tracks should be linking to a new platform at the Pentagon, not the existing platform. They still could be useful for rerouting trains?


by speaketh on Feb 8, 2013 11:10 am • linkreport

Not that I expect we'll ever have the money to create multiple new subways in the District in my lifetime, but I do enjoy fantasizing over where I'd run lines/place stations if I was king. I do like the idea of having a blue line terminal at the Pentagon that could be expanded down Columbia Pike in the future if needed. The blue line should run to Georgetown, M St & New Hampshire, M & Connecticut, Thomas Circle, Convention Center, New Jersey & H, Union Station/H Street, 8th & H St NE, and Starburst Plaza.

I also like the idea of a separate yellow line tunnel, perhaps going up 14th Street with stations near 14th & C SW, 14th & Penn NW, near McPherson Square Orange line, somewhere under 14th between Thomas Circle & P St NW, U & 14th, then heading west at Euclid to have a station at Columbia/18th/Calvert, near Woodley Park Red line, Mass & Wisconsin, and Mass at AU.

by Aaron on Feb 8, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

@ Jasper

"Why not split the Silver Line from the Orange and let it cross near Chain Bridge?" That would be DOA in McLean. The strong opposition to the elevated Silver Line through Tysons would be quadrupled, and it would be too expensive to underground it.

Before his first election as Supervisor, John Foust paid for a statistically valid poll of Dranesville District residents on the Silver Line. A majority said "If the choice is between elevated and nothing, build nothing." While the area is learning to live with the Silver Line, it wouldn't tolerate a repeat. Nor would elected officials from both Parties. The Silver Line will stay where it is.

by TMT on Feb 8, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

It is not a coincidence that all of the existing Metro lines cross political boundaries. Ambitious transit projects of the sort discussed here require benefits (and thus money) from lots of sources. Politically, creating new transit lines in DC is going to require benefits/service to Virginia - Mark Center and perhaps Columbia Pike are decent candidates (although the latter's new density plans are much, much too low for TOD at Metrorail levels.)

by Geronimo on Feb 8, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport


I think there is a route without disturbing McLean. And McLeans demographics are also going to be changing significantly in the next 10 years. Already it is becoming younger due to the size of newer units coming online (townhomes).

The key to going near chain bridge, which I discussed in an article I did on a combined rail/road crossing, is that it can connect Langley, A HUGE federal location to metro rail, and therefore a lot of the funding could come from Federal sources just as it did for Phase 1 silver line.

Also you could get money from VDOT because it would be a shared road crossing, something that Virginia has been looking for a long time to connect outside of the beltway between Bethesda and Tysons.

I think through McLean it's best chance would be below ground between McLean Station (silver line) and Beverly intx of Dolley madison. Thats where the residential center of McLean is. But after that, the homes drastically go back behind some woods and it becomes super low density along 123. You could come back above or at grade in the median at that point all the way to langley where it would either go below ground or above ground with a walkway to Langley.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 11:57 am • linkreport

For anyone who is interested the concept is looks like this (image worth a 1000 words)

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

Oops, I think in that concepts I actually ended up running it in the median of 495 so that it could be above grade full distance. But I think the difference to get it tunneled in the section of McLean, and then head north on GW to Langley would add "only" about 500million more for 2 miles of tunnel. Though could save some money by being a more direct route and also ultimately is a better alignment because it serves central McLean which, shocking to some DC residents, actually has a decent mixed use center along Old Dominion

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer:
Interesting concept. The Bethesda and Tysons Corner areas are so close together, but psychologically seem so far apart.
I'd probably put the line in the Route 123 ROW though. Not because there's much of anything there right now, but it has loads more growth potential than a highway median.

by merarch on Feb 8, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

Well the issue that TMT brought up was heavy in my mind when I was trying to map it out also. Currently, getting a bus route on Dolley Madison is tough enough with some of the obstructionists in McLean, so imagine what rail opposition might look like. Many in McLean would obstruct it not because its above or underground (though under would be an easier sell for sure) but because of things like "the kind of people that might come with metro" or "I'm afraid of terrorists attacking us"

With that in mind I went with 495 in an effort to create part of the Brown Line once thought as a link between Blue/Yellow Orange and Silver. I dont disagree that 123 would clearly serve as the best local improvement, but there is some merit to improving cross connection along 495 between the systems as well via an express (lesser stops) system.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

I am interested in the suggestion to have another cross-Potomac link to National Harbor through Alexandria. Maybe someone with a better understanding of the system could answer this ... Would it also be possible to link it up with the end of the Green Line (maybe even creating a circular line through all three jurisdictions)?

by Thad on Feb 8, 2013 1:01 pm • linkreport

No more Metro in highway medians. It's a cheap shortcut that results in an inferior product, and impedes urban development.

When we built the Silver Line in the Dulles Access road, we should have built it as an express from Tyson's to the airport, or actually routed the thing through the communities that it will serve.

by andrew on Feb 8, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport


I don't disagree necessarily with you Andrew but look at the specifics of the brown line on 495. It will be an affordable option 1. But also it is a good location in order to connect things. You wouldn't want to run a spoke connector through any other system because it would make the connections longer and would create unnecessary cost compared to the number of people served.

You could connect Dunn Loring easily to Tysons, solid mid point connections on both lines. You could connect an express route for blue line people who don't need to go to pentagon or rosslyn to north county. As well as Eisenhower connection for yellow to north county.

Otherwise you would either have a system to far west connecting through neighborhoods which will oppose it, or a system so far east that it might as well be an expansion to the blue line.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

To clarify why running neighborhoods wouldn't provide any benefit.

Between Tysons and Merrifield on Gallows there really isn't that much of a gap in transit coverage that it would need a new infill station, so having that part of it run on 495 makes sense if there is no new station proposed between.

Along Dunn Loring to Van Dorn there is central Springfield(not the mall), which could get paid for with some higher density redevelopment already planned there, possibly a stop at Annandale which would definitely fill a gap. But then again, both of those are most easily accessed via 495, as both are directly adjacent to 495. AND both have residents who don't necessarily want high density redevelopment coming to their neighborhoods and would be ok with a more parking oriented arrangement.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 1:31 pm • linkreport

You might want to go back and read your history about conservation battles of the 1960s/1970s, when the Seven Sisters Bridge was finally defeated. Referring to "aesthetic concerns" is putting it mildly. A non-tunnel Potomac crossing between Key Bridge and the American Legion Bridge will never happen.

"Could the steep cliffs on both sides of the Potomac be used as an advantage? Maybe there is a route that can "punch out" of the Rosslyn cliffs, take a low bridge across the Potomac, and "punch in" to be shallowly underground again on the Georgetown side, without needing lots of land for a underground/elevated transition.
Of course, there are aesthetic concerns, but it could save a lot of money and make the Georgetown and Rosslyn stations closer to the surface."

by Bob on Feb 8, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

I suggested this in the other thread yesterday, but shall re-mention it here for more discussion:

If the Blue AND Yellow Lines are to be separated, what would be the feasibility of putting them both through at Union Station to create a new hub? Were I to choose one and noth the other, I'd say Blue should be expanded there. But both could potentially fit in quite nicely.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Feb 8, 2013 1:38 pm • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer

First, thanks for the map. It was great and helped me understand your proposal quickly.

There are ROW problems on the Beltway. VDOT had ROW sufficient to build the Express Lanes without taking much land, even strip takings. But there isn't likely much more that would be available for a second major facility addition. This is true even between the end of the Express Lanes and the American Legion Bridge. Getting ROW for the Silver Line north of Tysons seems difficult to me.

I don't believe purchasing or condemning ROW is politically feasible. The neighborhood opposition to extending the Express Lanes past Georgetown Pike was huge, even though VDOT had all the ROW it needed. Further, the political clout of nearby residents was strong enough to get Janet Howell to obtain money from the General Fund to build sound walls even beyond the end of the Express Lanes. There is just no way the ROW issues can be addressed easily.

Running rail near the GW Parkway is interesting and, in theory, doable. Someone would need to do a land swap with the NPS. From what I've observed, the NPS is very unresponsive on land swap issues. Fairfax County has been working for at least 15 years to swap some land near Turkey Run Park in McLean.

Your instincts about the impossibility of running rail down 123 are spot on. It would the Under/Over battle on steroids. I don't think elected officials have the stomach for such a fight.

by tmt on Feb 8, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

tmt and TEs discussion points up the difficulties in getting further transit into Tysons, and hence, further density there. It points out why inner NoVa will (unless we see much greater employment growth in the dense parts of Arlington, continue to depend for employment growth on commuting to DC, and hence why the seperate blue line via Georgetown is important.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 8, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer

I'm not sure what you mean by changing demographics. I've lived in McLean for 25 years. Neighborhoods age, and then younger families move in. It is a more or less continuous cycle.

There are townhouses in a number of parts of McLean, as well as some condos and apartments. Downtown has the McLean House (condos) and the Ashby (apartments). As you probably know, JBG is proposing condos/apartments on Elm Street, and the owners of the Ashby want to make an even bigger apartment complex. While the JBG project is bogged down with traffic issues that need to be addressed, I do think some sort of multi-family building will be constructed on Elm Street. The Ashby proposal is DOA. Before my time, the original project was very controversial and inconsistent with the downtown Comp Plan. The owners want to build to a FAR that's slightly greater than what was approved for CapOne in Tysons. The community will not accept this proposal, and I don't see the County going forward with the Supervisor opposing it because of community opposition. There will, of course, be more multi-family buildings in Tysons, but not downtown McLean with the exception of the Elm Street site if and when traffic problems are fixed.

by tmt on Feb 8, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

@ Tysons Engineer: I like your map. Getting people to CIA HQ by metro would take a lot of people of the GW Parkway and reduce congestion.

by Jasper on Feb 8, 2013 2:30 pm • linkreport

@Bob: I think you mean the three sisters bridge(s). . Yes, there was opposition. How much of that opposition was anti-interstate vs anti-bridge? A train bridge with no/minimal land taken on either side of the river is much less disruptive than an interstate running through one's back yard. Past precedent is still cause for concern, but I don't think it should be dismissed out of hand.

by speaketh on Feb 8, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport


By changing demographics I mean the very items you are pointing out. The size of dwellings in McLean are becoming more diverse. Yes, every couple of months a new mcmansion pops up, but every year in central mclean you see some new townhomes or even a couple of condos (near chain bridge road). This means that the homes aren't "cheaper" if you calculate via psf, but they are more affordable if you calculate on total cost to buy.

They are entry level homes for new families, for younger folks, and more diverse backgrounds. That being the case, there will be a slight (and I agree it will only be slight) nudge towards things that young families want. So I think improved transit in McLean will be something that will come up over the next 20 years.

Its always tough to figure out how a neighborhood is trending when you are talking about decades of course

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 2:43 pm • linkreport

Also I think there is a difference between a 70 year old person today, and a 70 year old person in 2020. They will have come from completely different backgrounds, one from an era after WWII when suburban sprawl was seen as the American Way, and one who grew up in a counter culture revolution.

More importantly they will have come from two COMPLETELY different Fairfax Counties. One which was a farm land (aka the people who oppose all growth in an effort to recapture that concept) and one which was a growing hub of business and seen as the future is limitless (may be more open to redevelopment and transit)

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 2:48 pm • linkreport

More importantly perhaps, two different McLeans - one near a kinda sorta urban Tysons, vs one near a more typically suburban Tysons.

OTOH the experience of DC and quite a few other places suggests that folks who moved near an urban center can still be quite 'nimbyist'.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 8, 2013 2:57 pm • linkreport

Not sure I get the Chain Bridge crossing thread. There's very little density on either side of that bridge, and neither side is a good candidate for more density.

Specifically in Virginia, Fairfax County is planning for increases in density in places like Merrifield, Annandale and Springfield. But not along 123 north of Tysons.

Shuttle buses can provide transit service to CIA. You don't need to build heavy rail to provide that.

by c5karl on Feb 8, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

Currently there is a massive demand of connection between Tysons and Dulles Corridor and Bethesda due to BRAC as well as IT/Defense industries. The corridor link is more to alleviate the current lack of metro use to go into DC then to back track up the red line (which no one would do and dont do). Instead the American Legion bridge, River Road, etc are packed full of traffic.

The idea isn't to necessarily connect mclean into the system (though I think you have never been to McLean or know that there are several million square feet of development along Old Dominion and Chain Bridge near Langley Shopping Center) it is to connect to a federal work force (CIA) as well as to connect two major and over capacity systems (orange line and Red line via silver line connect) and to reduce the amount of time that riders need to do so, currently a deterrent for many thousands of riders.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 3:59 pm • linkreport

Really, that's just a stronger argument for the Purple line, IMHO (and at that, a good argument for building the Purple Line to Metrorail standards instead of LRT).

by andrew on Feb 8, 2013 4:15 pm • linkreport

It would be interesting if they built a terminal at both Rosslyn and the Pentagon for the Blue Line while sending a separated Yellow Line into DC (Where it goes from there can be argued by others).

This provides a couple of short-term and long-term options. For the short Blue Line Metro could test full automation.If it works they could have have short headways all the time for that short distance making it a viable transfer in the middle of the day, late at night, or on the weekend. The downside is it introduces another transfer.

Long-term, with a Blue Line terminal at both Rosslyn and the Pentagon you can extend in either direction once a jurisdiction comes up with the money because one of the ends will be a major transfer station.

It's something to consider if you need to do the build out in stages due to a lack of money.

With the Orange Line, I ultimately see it functioning as Metro's East-West line with Stadium-Armory and East Falls Church becoming splitter stations for the end. Metro could call the routes Silver and Orange or they could just retire the Silver Line.

As has been noted before, you essentially have two lines on the Red line as half of the trains turn back at Silver Spring and Grosvenor.

by Rob P. III on Feb 8, 2013 4:23 pm • linkreport

@Tysons Engineer, you don't know where I have ever been. In fact, I used to work a few blocks from Langley Shopping center, and I know that from there to Chain Bridge on Rte. 123 is there little but single family homes and parkland. And then once you cross the river you're on Canal Road below the Palisades: not exactly a location that's ripe for development, either.

Fairfax County would never go for heavy rail north of McLean over improving infrastructure in places like Rte. 1 where they are already planning to increase density.

Sheesh. I knew there was a reason I don't bother commenting here much.

by c5karl on Feb 8, 2013 5:53 pm • linkreport


I work there, today. I live a mile from there. And [there are] the 10-story apartment building on Beverly with 200 units[,] the 25 townhomes on Route 123[,] the 10 4-story commercial office buildings along Old Dominion[,] Did you see the new condominium and retail areas along Chain Bridge Road and Old Dominion[.]

Judging the development atmosphere of McLean based on a viewpoint of Route 123 is like judging development in Arlington from GW Parkway. Go 100 or 200' in one direction and you find the situation to be quite different.

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] google maps will prove my case [...] on streetview.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 6:35 pm • linkreport

That being said, the core area of "downtown" McLean is not a city or anything and its not like being in Downtown DC. But within a 1/4mile from where the station could be there is plenty of development, frankly it is quite similar to the Columbia Heights neighborhood about 5 years ago. And 1/4 mile is all that matters. The rest of McLean is, as you say, low density housing.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 6:38 pm • linkreport

Before anyone starts drawing a fantasy line, they should look at a population density map (you'll need to pan to the DC area). There's nothing like the population density needed to support a subway line through McLean.

by PeakVT on Feb 8, 2013 6:46 pm • linkreport


No one is saying McLean requires its own metro system. But [] those maps dont show [h]ow census tracks are divided. 4000 people can be cut up many MANY ways. The same thing happens in Tysons which annoys the crap out of me because people look and say, WOW look how low density that is.

But [] ALL of the density is happening all in a cluster, and the rest might as well be agro land with 1 per acre. THAT is smart growth, that is the kind of growth we should be supporting if you want better TOD. Another thing not seen on that map? Commercial density, of which McLean has plenty along side of the residents who live close to that area, to justify a station.

If there is feasibility for a station at Potomac yard, there is absolutely ridership available in mclean.

Lastly growth. McLean is growing. Again drive along Beverly, Old Dominion, and other roads within that cluster close to the intersection of 123/Old Dominion and you will see that it is VERY similar to pre-redevelopment Columbia Heights.

[D]on't think it was always the Utopian smart growth region that it is now with its beautiful Target.

Just saying, [] there are some solid density centers in NOVA, specifically within the beltway, and yet people from DC and Arlington want to discuss apples to Oranges. Comparing DuPont to McLean, or Adams Morgan to Tysons.

Want apples to apples? Compare McLean to Cleveland Park or West Hyattsville or Greenbelt. Compare Tysons to Takoma, or Noma, or Rhode Island.

Then that would be a good discussion.

For the last time, just [seeing Virginia from our highways], doesnt mean behind all those trees and leaves there arent density. 1.1 million people in Fairfax alone. Last time I checked Orange Line and Blue line are pretty well packed full of us Fairfax residents.

We must all be hiding in all that green leafy stuff

[Parts of this comment were deleted by the moderators.]

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 8, 2013 7:04 pm • linkreport

This series is great.

I think it would be well worth it to invest in more core capacity.

But I would like to suggest that GGW take a look at another approach: converting Metrorail rolling stock from semi-commuter-rail to something closer to typical subway rolling stock. Fewer seats and more doors. I certainly have the impression this would increase capacity. It might make the stations in the core even less adequate, but we already know they need to be improved.

I think both more tunnels downtown and higher capacity trains are needed. I'd like to see analysis along those lines.

by DavidDuck on Feb 8, 2013 10:16 pm • linkreport

DavidDuck: Here are some articles we did about the 7000 series cars and how they could have more doors and more standing capacity:

I agree it wouldn't be a bad idea to point out that these elements should be part of Metro's capacity strategy.

by David Alpert on Feb 8, 2013 10:50 pm • linkreport

I still believe WMATA should first direct any capital funds to increasing the fleet size and the infrastructure to support it to shorten headway beyond the so called 26 train per hour limit.

There are provisions scattered around the system to allow for system expansion.

The south end of the Pentagon station has a junction provision built into it to accommodated the future M route out Columbia Pike to Baileys Crossroads and Lincolnia. The provisions is identical to the existing junction at Rosslyn.

03 01 1968 Adopted Regional System Map

by Sand Box John on Feb 8, 2013 11:49 pm • linkreport

Adding a new Metro station in Georgetown would likely cost a couple of billion dollars. Let’s leave that complicated place alone and develop parts of the city that need to be developed and are easy to develop. They had their chance 45 years ago to say ‘yay’ to Metro and they said a deafening ‘nay’. On the other hand, the bottleneck at Rosslyn is a big issue that should be addressed right now.

by AndrewJ on Feb 9, 2013 5:18 am • linkreport

@AndrewJ: Georgetown didn't actually say "no" since the neighborhood was never considered for a Metro station (geography, lack of jobs etc). It's one of the biggest myths about the Metro.

by Phil on Feb 9, 2013 6:54 am • linkreport

Thank you, Phil.

During the early stages of planning for the Metro, Georgetown was not anywhere near the destination that it was by the late 1970s, and it was just starting to transition from being the blue-collar neighborhood that it was in the first half of the 20th century.

by Frank IBC on Feb 9, 2013 8:08 am • linkreport

The proposed line along Columbia Pike would have gone along Columbia Pike, Seminary Road, Beauregard Street to Duke Street.

Another proposal I saw (not sure if it was official or just a private individual's fantasy) had the line going farther, along Duke Street to Ravenswood Road, then Braddock Road to Burke.

by Frank IBC on Feb 9, 2013 8:13 am • linkreport

Redevelopment in central McLean (the Central Business District that has its own Comp Plan) will be hindered by growth in Tysons and its additional traffic. Route 123 is a high volume connection with the District. Old Dominion, Westmoreland and Great Falls/Lewinsville are high volume connnectors with North Arlington. FC DOT forecasts large volumes of increased traffic for all routes. Those traffic volumes make it unlikely the McLean CBD can handle much more growth of its own.

All of the major stakeholders, the McLean Planning Committee (advises the Dranesville Supervisor on land use in the CBD), the McLean Revitalization Corp., the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, and the McLean Citizens Association understand this. Not everyone likes the "lid," and some individuals want to ignore it. But, if you look at the numbers generated by Fairfax County's planning model (one of the absolute best in the nation), McLean's jammed streets cannot handle much more traffic. That will put a big lid on what housing options can be built in and around the CBD.

While I suspect some additional housing will be constructed in the CBD, it's much, much less than what landowners are proposing. The density needs to be and stay in Tysons.

by TMT on Feb 9, 2013 9:28 am • linkreport

The solution that Ed Tennyson and I strongly advocate are the "Red Group" lines. Each with Peak headways of 5 minutes (perhaps 4.6 minutes later).

Red - Shady Grove to Glenmont

Rose - Interline with Red from Grosvenor to Tenleytown, then down Wisconsin Avenue to M Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington Circle, Dupont Circle, Thomas Circle, Mt Vernon Square, Union Station and perhaps down 2nd Street NE & SE to Congress South and Navy Yard. 3 or 4 tracks from Washington Circle.

Plum - Up Connecticut Avenue from Van Ness to the Purple Line. Later, as elevated to Wheaton, forming a Plum Loop.

Copper - Single & double track from Harrison Avenue on I-66 in Virginia. Second Rosslyn station, Kennedy Center and then interline with Rose from Washington Circle to Union Station

More at

This costs little more than what is proposed, much delviers MUCH more !

by AlanfromBigEasy (Alan Drake) on Feb 9, 2013 9:44 am • linkreport

When Ed Tennyson asked during the 1962-63 planning why longer platforms were not built, he was told "If we ever fill up 8 car trains, we will just build more lines".

We advocate either 10 car platforms or platforms that can be easily and economically expanded to 10 car platforms. The future is a long time.

The Copper Line will take riders away from the Orange & Silver lines at an ideal point - just before they enter Wilson Blvd. With up to 10 car trains and up to 5 minute headways, the Copper Line is an ideal cure for the "Orange Crush". New destinations will attract both existing and new riders.

Some few Wilson Blvd. commuters will reverse commute to Harrison and take the Copper Line into DC.

by AlanfromBigEasy (Alan Drake) on Feb 9, 2013 10:36 am • linkreport

I'm not sure of your age, Tysons Engineer, but be careful when generalizing people especially when using age. Just because people have been here longer or remember when much of the area was undeveloped does not mean they oppose growth or change because they remember the past. I'm not sure it's always intentional, but some of your tweets are divisive because of similar generalizations. This is compltetly off-topic now, but you might want to consider separate twitter accounts for personal views and those advocating for Tysons Corner.

by selxic on Feb 9, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Any new tunnel to Georgetown should continue to Union station and then head to New Carrollton on track adjacent to the AMTRAK and MARC ROW, joining the orange line a Cheverly. This plan would relieve pressure at Rosslyn and Union Station, allow new service at an infill station near Ivy City, and reduce congestion on Route 50 and New york Avenue.

This would mix up the metro map a little. The silver and orange lines would use their current right of way, while the blue line would be rerouted through Georgetown, West End, Thomas Circle, Convention Center, and Ivy City before meeting up with the current ROW at Cheverly before heading to New Carrollton.

This option would make metro a more attractive option for many in the Bowie/Landover areas by providing a faster trip to Downtown since they would be bypassing all the current blue line stations south of Stadium Armory. This would do wonders in reducing congestion on Route 50 and New York Avenue.

by caps fan on Feb 9, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

There is definitely room for eventual heavy rail expansion in Fairfax. I think SE Fairfax, Baileys, and even eventually Anndandale are better candidates than McLean. Current density at least as high, and far greater support for increased density.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 9, 2013 5:34 pm • linkreport

@AWITC - Based on the momentum of the Streetcar Coalition and some public statements and discussions with Supervisor Gross the central corridor of Annandale is looking to be served with streetcars via Columbia Pike with terminus at NVCC. I am not sure there is a lot of stomach in Annandale for heavy rail because the cost will not be covered via Federal sources, and it will not be covered by developer concessions for greater density.

In the current political climate it isn't enough just to have population (see Centreville) you must also have a funding mechanism because the state of Virginia couldn't care less about funding transit, thank you American Petroleum Institute.

McLean has Langley and a lot of wealth. The beltway will have the new FBI headquarters. Thats why I think the brown line and McLean connection across the river will happen politically before Annandale will attain heavy rail.

If you want my opinion on it, I think the latter would be the better solution to traffic and needs in our area. Then again what is best and more utilitarian is rarely what is politically and economically possible

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 9, 2013 6:39 pm • linkreport

I don't expect heavy rail in Annandale anytime soon. But before McLean. The CIA has no pressing need for heavy rail, and the wealth in McLean militates in the opposite direction - they like things the way the are. In annandale even the homeowners and civic asscns want densification, as an alternative to decay.

As a great man once said "the worse it is, the better it is"

And the FBI will either be in PG or in Springfield. It will not generate heavy rail around the beltway.

The more likely solution for bethesda to Tysons is a purple line extension, coupled with BRT on the beltway.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 9, 2013 7:56 pm • linkreport

I think that would be the best solution. The BRT is quasi in place already with the 495F,G express buses, though their termini dont have separated bus lanes.

The FBI will be in Springfield, I'd be willing to take a bet on that one.

I wont speak on the subject of the wealth in McLean, that gets me in trouble way too often.

by Tysons Engineer on Feb 9, 2013 10:37 pm • linkreport

Over the years, I’ve really appreciated and enjoyed the coverage this venue has given to this topic, particularly the related “fantasy” transit maps. These recent discussions are excellent and crucial to our Greater region’s growth and ongoing desirability. And they really got me thinking. Hence, this long comment that I hope furthers the discussion. I offer a bold idea, and a concept for a Gold line as an illustration.

Now, once again, it is time to be bold—just as we were in the late 1950s when the planning for the system we now know as Metro began. Let’s start talking seriously about a Metro system of 300 miles and 200+ stations.

Many might react very negatively to this idea and say it is impossible to do this at the scale of the spending that would be entailed. However, we managed to create our world-class system at a time when the automobile’s dominance was rising, energy was cheap, and the trend was for lower-density development. We’ve come a long way since then. We can most certainly find various forms of funding, backed by cost-benefit analyses, to make it possible over time. We’ve done it before, and circumstances today and into the future are even more favorable to support Metro-related growth.

I realize that we have significant maintenance issues to address with the current system. There are ways to wring even more out of what we have. There are other transit options (many of which have been discussed here) and are essential. Yet we must not limit ourselves, and our future, to these ideas.

More and more, there is an intense and urgent need for a comprehensive, cohesive (and yes, inspiring) vision for a greatly expanded Metro system that embraces, serves and builds the entire region. It’s how the original system came to be. It’s how we can again leap forward.

The original system was designed for a region with half the population that we have now. It envisioned, and greatly contributed to, the region’s doubling. A new vision must be on an at least matching scale, though with so many emerging issues and patterns that favor much higher-density living, we really ought to be envisioning a tripling of the system miles and at least 100 more stations. How could I suggest such huge numbers?

The original 101-mile system concept was initiated when the region had about 1.9 million people, and anticipated serving a rapidly growing region. In a relatively apples-to-apples comparison, the region’s population has more than doubled since then (a 250% increase, to 4.7 million).

The increased geographic expanse and higher densities of the region significantly adds to the need for a bigger Metro system.

If the original late 1950s plan anticipated a regional population increase of 50%, then the 101 miles would expect to serve a metropolitan region of about 2.85 million. This comes out to about one Metro mile per 28,500 in population. With our current regional population, these numbers would suggest the need for a system of 165 miles today.

More importantly, our pattern of development has greatly intensified, particularly at locations well served by strong transportation options — many of which are the result of Metro (such as Rosslyn-Ballston) or are about to be served by Metro (Tysons-Dulles).

Rolling together the interlocking forces of rising energy costs, development enabled by highways, Metro and commuter rail, and a greater embrace of mixed-use and higher density living, we could easily justify something more: Not just a 65 mile Metro system addition, but perhaps a 100 mile expansion, just to serve today’s region. This 200 Metro mile system would have one Metro mile per 23,500 people (a 22% increase in service) to accommodate our much denser development patterns.

Thus I suggest that, if our region grows by another 50% over the next 50 years (to about 7 million), we’d need a system of about 300 Metro miles.

A truly visionary plan would imagine more than a tripling of the Metro system. It would embrace the connectivity with Baltimore, MARC, VRE, streetcar systems in development, and ‘Edge Cities’ (as coined by Joel Garreau) that are expanding today (such as Manassas, Leesburg, Gaithersburg, Columbia, Waldorf, and maybe out to Fredericksburg, Frederick and Annapolis). Many far-reaching ideas should be ‘on-the-map’ to carefully guide the next wave and bands of expansion.

So, how should we decide where to expand? I suggest there must be two primary criteria considered when planning the system’s expansion. First, what areas are greatly underserved by transit and transportation options (which includes locations that are near or overcapacity with today’s options)? Second, what areas are greatly underdeveloped and well suited to a transformation through transit (that is, having large tracts of land)? The former are often easier to identify. The latter really hold the key to the system’s ability to be visionary in its guiding the region’s TOD Smart Growth. Measuring bang-for-the-buck must include bold ideas of what the region can become, with transit leading and guiding significant growth.

I’d say that about half of the needed Metro system expansion would serve areas that are already quite well developed (with some room for additional growth) and really should have Metro already. Much of the discussion here has focused on those areas—rightly so.

The other half of the system’s expansion would open up and connect areas that are ripe for TOD.

Combining these ideas of infill and growth, we need to envision routes that leverage existing connectivity, population centers, job centers, and tourism focal points.

I particularly agree with the ideas of making lines single throughout – the leading need being splitting the Blue line at Rosslyn and running that to Georgetown and then east. Run the Yellow line separate from the Green line. I favor the Blue line going to Logan Circle then out Rhode Island Avenue – all the way to College Park and Laurel. This is a vastly under-utilized corridor. The options for the Yellow line are more varied (perhaps a topic for a later comment).

With all of this in mind, I propose a Gold line that serves new areas, emerging areas, infill locations and woefully underserved spots in Maryland and DC. The southern terminus would be in Fort Washington, adjacent to the burgeoning Indian Head Highway (along which are several well-suited sites with large tracts of underdevelopment). Running north, the Gold line would serve National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Glassmanor (at South Capitol St., just south of the DC line), St. Elizabeth’s, Bolling, and Buzzard Point (the latter two are truly ripe for massive redevelopment). The line would then head a bit west to Jefferson/FDR Memorials, Lincoln/Korea/Vietnam Memorials, and Kennedy Center (we have to make the system more useful to tourists). Then the line would swing east under E St. for State Department, northeast to White House/Treasury (with the station west of Freedom Plaza) and then out New York Ave. for stops at City Center (adjacent to the old convention center redevelopment site), 5th St. (with a transfer walkway passage to Mt. Vernon Sq./Convention Center), North Capitol, Public Market (at Penn St. NE), Ivy City (between Kendall and Fenwick), and Gateway (midway between Montana and Bladensburg). Next, the line would turn northeast stopping at Langdon (Bladensburg & 25th St.), run east for Ft. Lincoln, then follow Kenilworth to Bladensburg (at 52nd), then on to Edmonston (at Tilden), East Riverdale (East/West Highway, connecting with the Purple line), and Berwyn Heights (at Greenbelt Road). The line would then turn east to run under Greenbelt Road for stops at Greenway (Hanover Parkway), Goddard (maybe two stops?), Glenn Dale, and then turn north on Lanham Severn Road to Bowie Center and the terminal at Bowie State.

This new Metro Gold line would maximize many current investments and better serve residents, commuters, businesses, and tourists. It would also better serve the Federal workforce and provide new hubs for our burgeoning high-tech industries. It focuses growth where it has reached limits without transit.

Whether or not all or any of this Gold line is built, there remains an intense need for much bigger thinking. Even if only half of the growth I suggest is built, that’s 100 needed miles. And even if a quarter of it is built, that’s 50 miles, or half as big as the current (non-Silver-line system). That alone would get us to where we should be right now — even with no growth over the next 50 years. There are a range of other corridors and spots in Maryland, DC and Virginia that would benefit from this type of Metro service expansion. We have so much to do — and so many exceptional opportunities.

With seven of the ten wealthiest counties in our region, surely we need it, and can find ways to afford it. The capital of our mighty nation must continue to live up to its potential. Metro provides a backbone for remaining competitive and it contributes to an exceptional quality of life and flourishing economy. Many other regions would love to have these chances for growth on this scale. So, let’s get going again!

by Scott Stafford on Feb 10, 2013 12:24 am • linkreport

By the way, I drew up a sketch of my proposed Gold line in Google Maps and would be happy to share it here if I only knew how. Just let me know if interested.

by Scott Stafford on Feb 10, 2013 12:42 am • linkreport

Why is Georgetown always the concern there are other areas in each jurisdiction that have less transit than Georgetown.

Why not bring the whole area up to a certain standard of service before we start increasing transit in areas that already have it.

In DC you have sections of west of Wisconsin, east of Rock Creek Park north of Petworth, east of the Red Line in NE and parts of SE/SW that have worst transit than Georgtown at any single time of the day.

In Arlington its obivious where transit is lacking just look on a map.

@ Scott Stafford

I'am interested in seeing that map and how much do you expect that Gold Line to cost I bet around $ 30-50 billion. From how you describe it the line would cross hopefully be above ground to the DC line then it would go under many highrises, different elevations, river, terrible soil by the mall, above or under other metro lines, then a U turn through the middle of DC, then to ft Lincoln, Bladensburg, then Greenbelt and Bowie.

That line would probably be twice as long as the longest line (Blue) and then some. I cant see DC, Maryland or the Federal Government offering to ever pay for that. It would be like building the entire system in DC as one Line.

I see several problems with that

1 Money it would be anywhere from $30-70 billion
2 Too damn long it would have to be split in two or even three
3 You would be better off extending the Green, Yellow, Orange and a future Purple Line to cover the area.
4 60+ % of DC would be messed during construction
5 You would most definitely have to use eminent domain
6 Engineering nightmare it would cross every line in DC atleast twice; would every station along the line in DC be at Forest Glen or Woodley Park depths ?

by kk on Feb 10, 2013 1:22 am • linkreport

Here are my ideas for any split blue lines followed with maps detailing routes

Blue Line options photo blueoptions_zps06c09483.png

Option A1 = normal route to Benning RD from there northeast via Bladensburg RD then north via South Dakota Ave would stop at Fort Totten Station then along Missouri Ave, Military RD, Nebraska Ave, stop at Tenleytown Station, Nebraska Ave, Loughboro RD, through Palisades, cross Potomac near Chain Bridge, Glebe Road, Military Rd, Lee Highway to Rosslyn resume regular route

Option A2 = same as A1 until Glebe Road, continues Glebe Road, stop at Ballston Station, continue Glebe Road, from there either down Columbia Pike or Glebe Road to Potomac Yard and meet back up with current route

Option A3 = same as A2 until Glebe Road and Williamsburg Blvd, Sycamore Street, stop at East Falls Church Station, Roosevelt Blvd, Seven Corners, Leesburg Pike, Baileys Crossroads, Seminary RD, Quaker Lane, meet back up with current route

Option B1= same as Option A until South Dakota & Taylor Street where line would turn to travel along Taylor Street, cross Red Line there possible infill location, Taylor Street, Rock Creek Church RD, stop at Petworth Station, crosses Rock Creek Park, stops at Cleveland Park Station., Porter or Ordway Street, Idaho Ave, through Glover Park, Tunlaw Road to Wisconsin Ave to Georgetown then to Rosslyn

Option B2 = same as B1 until Petworth Station then up 16th Street, Military Road, Nebraska Ave, stop at Tenleytown station, Nebraska Ave, through Palisades, MacArthur Blvd, Reservoir Road, Georgetown to Rosslyn

Option C = same as Option A, B1 & B2 until Bladensburg Road and Montana Ave, would travel along Montana Ave to Brookland section of DC from there travel to and stop at Brookland Station, Washington/Childrens/VA Hospitals, stop at Columbia Heights Station across Rock Creek Park to Wisconsin Ave then to Georgetown and Rosslyn

Option D = same as Option C to Columbia Heights from where it would travel down Columbia Road, Florida Ave, 23rd Street, M Street to Georgetown, Rosslyn

Option E = Benning Road, Florida Ave, U Street, Adams Morgan, cross Rock Creek near Calvert Street, Cleveland Ave, Garfield Street, Wisconsin Ave to Georgetown and Rosslyn.

Option F = current plans for any split Blue Line

The plan with my routes is to provide service to areas that do not currently have any and that are not near any stations. Most of my designs target Upper NE and NW because of lack of transit and lack or east/west connections

by kk on Feb 10, 2013 3:28 am • linkreport


At a minimum, a cross town route across Military Road, connecting the greater Ft. Totten area to either Tenleytown or Friendship Heights is sorely needed. Even if this is a streetcar, as opposed to Metro, it would be great.

In terms of your proposal, linking Bailey Crossroads and the north Arlington area to upper NW with two intersections of the Red Line (on each spur) would provide some nice redundancy and new connections. I am not sure of the engineering feasibility of getting through the river there, and I am confident there are plenty of people who would fight this tooth and nail.

by Andrew on Feb 10, 2013 7:46 am • linkreport

The best places for heavy rail are going to be dense places, with high potenial for switching people from SOV. Thats often going to be places that are already served by lots of buses.

Georgetown is a logical place to serve because its high density, and also because its right on the way from NoVa to the CBD, which is where capacity is most urgenly needed.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 8:54 am • linkreport

"The best places for heavy rail are going to be dense places, with high potenial for switching people from SOV. Thats often going to be places that are already served by lots of buses." Well stated.

Another very positive proposal in my mind came last week from the Reston Citizens Association. This is the voluntary entity, not the mandatory HOA.

MAILBAG - NoVa wants a hand: A group of concerned Northern Virginia citizens wrote to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, both Virginia senators and Reps. Gerry Connolly and Frank Wolf about commercial development around budding Silver Line stations - and MWAA property. The letter "recommends that, if it approves of such a step, Congress direct MWAA to share any income from these tax-free commercial initiatives with those who are paying for the Silver Line, including Dulles Toll Road users." Read it:

by TMT on Feb 10, 2013 9:45 am • linkreport

Reston property is highly valued compared to properties in other parts of Fairfax a similar distance from the regional core.

That is largely due to the presence of Dulles Airport - and that is now reinforced by the presence of the Silver Line.

If MWAA finances any part of the Silver Line from redevelopment of MWAA properties, that money should go to reduce the Fairfax county contribution, and THAT should then be used by the County to fund mass transit in less favored parts of the County.

The greed, arrogance, and selfishishnes on the part of the favored quarter section of Fairfax seems to know no bounds.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

What is the problem with residents of Reston trying to advance their best interests? The high tolls on the DTR, which are funding the largest share of the Silver Line costs, will push people off the DTR and on to local Reston streets. Today, MWAA has no right to develop the land for non-airport purposes. MWAA wants to make profits on the development it is not permitted to do. What's wrong with flowing some of the profits back to reduce the tolls? To reduce the incentive to drive other roads?

I cannot imagine a single Fairfax County supervisor opposing reductions in DTR tolls. Tysons and the Dulles Corridor are important generators of commercial real estate taxes that help fund county government. The Supervisors recognize this. In fact, they dedicated the entire Commercial and Industrial real estate tax for transportation to Tysons transportation improvement.

by TMT on Feb 10, 2013 12:28 pm • linkreport

It depends if the tolls are going to create significant excess capacity on the DTR - it its a question of fully utilizing the toll road - otherwise its just an equity consideration for toll road users. Who are already beneficiaries of the Silver Line, which will increase property values along its route.

As for MWAA properties, many landowners will have development opportunities - and at least some of them may be tax exempt entities. I am not sure why any new potential source of revenue should go first to reducing DTR tolls.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

"I cannot imagine a single Fairfax County supervisor opposing reductions in DTR tolls. "

You have been reminding us on a regular basis of the respect all FFX cty supervisors have to the needs and desires of the residents of McLean, Great Falls, Reston, and adjacent areas. Whether it relates to transit through McLean, the rte 7 widening, DTR, etc, etc.

At some point voters in southern FFX are going to become concerned. At some point the current Vice Chair of the BOS will have to decide if she really represents Mason District or not.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

" A group of concerned Northern Virginia citizens wrote "

As info = the group is the RESTON citizens association.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport


MWAA is supposed to serve the public interest and function only in the areas where Congress gave it authority. It has no power to engage in non-airport-related development. It is very different from a private landowner. I see no problem with Congress either refusing to extend MWAA's powers or conditioning them if extended.

I'm still not following you about Supervisor Gross. What should she do or not do?

Organizations, such as the Great Falls Citizens Association, Reston Citizens Association, McLean Citizens Association, are often successful because they work very hard on issues of importance. They often do considerable research and have data as good or better than other stakeholders. Their members are active.

The Mason District Council is also quite active on issues of concern to that community. It had a town hall meeting in January that was quite well attended. The website indicates the following were the biggest concerns of residents (in order of importance).

• The physical condition of area businesses and roadways

• Speeding (on neighborhood roads)

• Boarding houses (more than four unrelated people living in a home)

• Quality of education

• Traffic congestion

• Infrastructure (aging buildings, roadways, etc.)

• Crime (specifically daytime break-ins)

• Property maintenance (the physical condition of neighborhood properties)

• Snow removal

• Lack of business development in our commercial areas (Annandale and Bailey’s Crossroads)

by TMT on Feb 10, 2013 3:16 pm • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.]

I see no reason MWAA should not develop there properties If they do, I remain unconvinced any windfall should go to reducing DTR tolls.

Infrastructure and transportation are indeed issues in Mason district. And elsewhere in southern FFX.

From what you have posted, when Great Falls, McLean etc speak,the BOS listens.

Their members are active, and wealthy.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 10, 2013 5:50 pm • linkreport

It is also worthwhile to point out that tolls at the DTR are not that high.

It's the Greenway that has the outrageous tolls.

Many people confuse the two. The Greenway however, is in Loudoun.

by Jasper on Feb 10, 2013 5:58 pm • linkreport

Has anyone ever studied running a new line from US 50 in Arlington, across the US 50/I-66 Roosevelt Bridge, under Constitution Ave., to Union Station or beyond it to Cap Hill? No one would argue the TR Bridge is a work of art, and by 2025 won't it need a major overhaul anyway? Then cut-and-cover on Constitution Ave? Cheaper than tunneling under the river, perhaps? I imagine soil conditions in the former swampland might be tricky... but this would also offer visitors a better option for visiting the Mall. Could have a pedestrian connection to Rosslyn, Federal Triangle, and Archives stations too.

by Graham S on Feb 10, 2013 7:32 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper

I appreciate your position on the DTR tolls. But few affected seem to agree, as there has been significant organization and protests. (Greenway tolls also.) They've attracted the attention of elected officials. I suspect that, if we had been talking about a dollar or so, there would not be elected officials paying attention.

Another important factor that plays into the equation is the promise of the DTR's moving force, the late state senator Omer Hirst. He promised, with the agreement of state government, the DTR would be free once the bonds had been retired.

I sense a broader frustration with the way Fairfax County and the State work with active groups of citizens. It takes countless hours of volunteer time, detailed analysis and a refusal to quit to be successful. The positions taken also need to ring true with the public, and the advocates need to avoid "mission creep," i.e., bringing in other issues that could splinter the coalition.

It's my perception that other parts of the county (e.g., Mount Vernon) have been reasonably successful in getting attention to their issues. Congressmen Moran and Connolly have provided considerable aid and money for BRAC-related issues. Supervisor Hyland is listening and working as well.

by TMT on Feb 11, 2013 8:23 am • linkreport

@ Graham S:Has anyone ever studied running a new line from US 50 in Arlington, across the US 50/I-66 Roosevelt Bridge, under Constitution Ave., to Union Station or beyond it to Cap Hill?

I'd advocate a new line from Middleburg to Annapolis via DC along US-50.

by Jasper on Feb 11, 2013 9:34 am • linkreport

@ TMT:But few affected seem to agree, as there has been significant organization and protests.

People protest an increased fee. There is no surprise there.

The question is whether their protest is reasonable. From a cost-perspective, I'd say no. From a point of view opposing all tolls (which I subscribe to), I'd say yes.

I sense a broader frustration with the way Fairfax County and the State work with active groups of citizens. It takes countless hours of volunteer time, detailed analysis and a refusal to quit to be successful.

That seems to be the way things work around here. It is unfortunate that our leaders are not able to figure out what people want without lobbying, but I see no easy solution within the current political system.

It's my perception that other parts of the county (e.g., Mount Vernon) have been reasonably successful in getting attention to their issues. Congressmen Moran and Connolly have provided considerable aid and money for BRAC-related issues. Supervisor Hyland is listening and working as well.

Well, the perception of those affected (me), is different. North County has a new metro line, and all kinds of fancy highways. South County has congested I-95 and crappy VRE.

I wonder if you could tell me which BRAC-related issues there is money for. Other than the long-wished-for connection of the two parts of the Fairfax County Parkway - funded through ARA because it was so shovel-ready that Obama could come and tout it as the ideal project - not much has been done. Even the bus solutions to the Marc center are crap (and outside Fairfax).

by Jasper on Feb 11, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

and to add to Jasper's point, the implementation of the Annandale transportion plan, which is essential to the renovation of Annandale, is on hold due to lack of funding. While the county prioritizes widening Rte 7 in a corridor resistant to new density.

"He promised, with the agreement of state government, the DTR would be free once the bonds had been retired."

Which is not an argument wrt to the optimal road charge. Everyone wants free roads, and then complains when they are congested.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 11, 2013 9:49 am • linkreport

The businesses in Annandale should propose a tax district similar to what is funding parts of Phase I and Phase II of Dulles Rail. Failing that, the community, including businesses, should propose a service district, similar to what is being imposed in Tysons for transportation infrastructure costs. It would probably be easier to attract state and federal funding if there were a new bondable local source of funding.

I would also recommend a hard scrubbing of what is desired. It's easy to draw rail lines on a map, but it's very unlikely major rail expansions will occur for many years. What other types of transportation improvements would help the revitalization of Annandale? What end result does the community want? Where would they accept added density? Where do they want current neighborhoods protected? A split within the community doesn't help.

How much tax revenue does Annandale generate today? What would it likely generate with revitalization. I'm not trying to be arrogant or lecture anyone. I do, however, know what worked and didn't work with Tysons.

by TMT on Feb 11, 2013 10:51 am • linkreport

the annandale transportation plan is NOT for new rail lines. Its about rebuilding the street infrastructure, and adding some new bus service.

The street infrastructure in annandale is a disaster, and does not adequately serve what has been built in annandale in the last several decades. We are not talking about a rebuilding on the scale of Tysons. We are talking about taking a thoroughly disfunctional street layout, in a community that is heavily underprivileged, and improving it. Seperating out the $$ that specifically would address the current needs from those that would enable new development is not an exercise the county has done, and not one that can be done cleanly, IMO, not is it likely to be worthwhile.

Note we are not talking about investment comparable to Tysons, but the kinds of additions that are being made in the north county that are not really connected to Tysons (whether they have been put on some arbitrary list or not)

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 11, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

if you want to see the FCDOT plan its online. Again its mostly about reconfiguring disfunctional LRT, and adding a bit more connectivity by running streets through what are currently parking lots.

The annandale form based code info is also online.

None of this is new.

Its just waiting in line for funding. Funding that its appropriate for the county to provide, if they can ever manage to prioritize creating a livable community in Annandale ahead of adding SOV capacity in other places.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Feb 11, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

I always wondered why there was no station built in Georgetown when the Metro was first built. Likewise, why was the Green Line built last -- I think we know why.

I once found (when I went to an event in GT) that if I got off at Rosslyn, a regular Metro Bus met me and took me across Key Bridge quickly -- but for extra fare.

I think that when track work is done, it's more efficient to replace entire lines with buses, and to run buses along the lines all night when Metro is closed. Cleveland, Ohio has a very effective "bus only" lane system (in addition to rail) which is almost like a light rail line (along Euclid). We could to the same here in some neighborhoods.

By the way -- I lived the 2005 indie film "Five Lines".

by John W Boushka on Feb 11, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

Cleveland, Ohio has a very effective "bus only" lane system (in addition to rail) which is almost like a light rail line (along Euclid)

That's also known as BRT, and it's a pretty poor solution that never lives up to its billing.

by MetroDerp on Feb 11, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

@ AWalkerInTheCity

Thanks for the reference. The Comp Plan explained the road improvements pretty clearly. I've driven through that area often enough to understand the concern.

If I wanted to help move the projects forward, I would start organizing stakeholders and discussing a tax or service district. My experience with both VDOT and Fairfax County suggest an organized plan with a partial funding proposal is likely to get more consideration for earlier approvals than ones that don't. Since the size of the proposed improvements is not large (as you correctly noted), any tax or service district need not be major in size or duration. My two cents.

by TMT on Feb 11, 2013 2:47 pm • linkreport

@ MetroDerp

" Cleveland, Ohio has a very effective "bus only" lane system (in addition to rail) which is almost like a light rail line (along Euclid)
That's also known as BRT, and it's a pretty poor solution that never lives up to its billing."

I that really true or is it just true in the USA; if it is just the USA than it is not a poor solution it is just a solution that Americans can not grasp

by kk on Feb 12, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

I have never understood why WMATA just doesn't interview all these Slug line riders and find out where they live and increase bus service in their areas and/or extend the yellow or blue line down I-95 in VA. These people want to get to work in the city and would probably pay for metro service.

Also, the orange line needs to go past Vienna. I have friends who would ride it more if it wasn't such a hassle to get to, or so I hear from them.

by Cider on Feb 14, 2013 7:24 pm • linkreport

Scott Stafford- I think your idea of a Gold line (or whatever color) to National Harbor, Oxon Hill, and Fort Washington is a very much needed addition, though I would add that it should eventually extend to Waldorf. Indian Head Highway is a mess during rush hour, and even bus transportation to the area is pitiful, especially weekends. National Harbor is already a hot spot for delevopment, but is hampered by inacessibility, and the area south of there has loads of development potential. Unfortunately, PG County almost always is a second thought in any transportation plans.

On the other side of the river, the Yellow line could seriously improve things by extending to Hybla Valley/Mt. Vernon/Ft. Belvoir/Woodbridge.

by Voron Xarya on Oct 7, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport


Nice map of Metro's '68 proposals there. The document shows a provision south of the Pentagon, as you said. I might have a way of utilizing that corridor by separating the Yellow Line along Columbia Pike, to Bailey's then south along 7 to King St station. The Yellow Line would then continue on it's current route to Huntington. This would probably be ambitious, but it would allow growth around Beacon Hill and Hybla Valley with no capacity strains for a long time. It would also allow capacity for feeder transit (such as BRT, LRT, and such) to deposit riders at the Metro stations btwn Huntington and Hybla Valley. This, along with separating all the other lines, would allow for maximum capacity on all lines, 8 car trains during rush hour with no interlining for trains that are not overcrowded, and allow growth in other areas and extensions.

by YoungTransitSupporter on Jul 19, 2014 7:45 pm • linkreport

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