This project consists of potentially providing a context-sensitive multimodal connection between Crystal City and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) designed to meet the needs of a broad range of pedestrians, bicyclists, and micromobility users of all ages and abilities.
The potential connection will link Crystal City to National Airport. The specific location of the project is to be determined.
At its December 2019 meeting, the County Board approved an agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to allow the County to administer the project’s planning, environmental review and preliminary engineering phases.
On June 30, 2020, the County advertised a request for proposals (RFP) to select a consultant to complete the project’s environmental documentation and conceptual design. The County Board approved this professional services contract at its March 20, 2021, meeting.
Environmental Analysis and Alternatives Development
This project will use federal funds and could impact federal lands, so it is subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
In order to comply with NEPA requirements, a study will be developed that analyzes the transportation needs in the study area, develops a range of reasonable alternatives to address those needs and examines potential environmental impacts of the alternatives before a preferred alternative is identified. The study will result in the production of required documentation and approvals by appropriate federal agencies.
The outcome of the NEPA process will be approval of a preferred alternative for a specific type of facility and alignment, and all necessary federal permits and authorizations will be obtained. It is anticipated that the NEPA process will conclude with a Record of Decision issued in late 2023.
About the Project
In 2010, Arlington County adopted the Crystal City Multimodal Transportation Study. The study made transportation improvement recommendations for the Crystal City area including the construction of a “Direct pedestrian and bicycle connection from the Mount Vernon Trail to Terminal C of National Airport” (page 42).
The Crystal City Business Improvement District (now known as the National Landing BID) initiated a feasibility assessment in 2017 that looked at how to connect Crystal City and its myriad transportation options to the airport. The study evaluated various alignment and facility types to serve existing development and planned growth in Crystal City.
During development of its FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan, the County created a new project in the Crystal City, Pentagon City, Potomac Yard Streets Program to continue alternatives analysis and preliminary planning for the connection. The project had limited funding due to budget constraints.
In late 2018, with the announcement of an agreement to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Crystal City, the Commonwealth of Virginia identified this connector project as one of five transportation projects to be fully or partially funded by the Commonwealth.
VDOT added the project to its Six-Year Improvement Program in 2019. This included an allocation of $9.5 million in federal funding for project planning, NEPA documentation and preliminary engineering.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead agency for the environmental review on this project, while VDOT is the joint lead agency for the purposes of preparing the NEPA document. Concurring, cooperating, and participating agencies will be identified and formally invited in these roles after the NEPA process kicks off.
Public involvement is pivotal to the NEPA process; opportunities to engage with the study will be provided throughout its development. Given the importance of this project, the County will develop a comprehensive public participation plan in accordance with NEPA requirements and that is consistent with the County’s Six Step Public Engagement Guide for Capital Projects. This plan will be developed in conjunction with the project consultant at the beginning stages of the project.