In Crystal City on the northwest corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South
In July 2020, the County Board approved an interim agreement with a JBG SMITH subsidiary, JBGS/TRS, LLC, for development of 30 percent design documents for the second entrance at the Crystal City Metrorail Station. Under the agreement the County will pay JBGS/TRS $3.57 million for this effort. The County Board held a public hearing on the interim agreement at its June 13, 2020, meeting.
The engineering and design process kicked off in September 2020, and the 30% design phase is anticipated to be complete in summer 2021. Key elements of this phase of the project include topographical survey, environmental analysis, preliminary station design, and community stakeholder coordination.
About the Project
The Crystal City Metrorail Station is one of the more highly used stations in Arlington County. The existing entrance is reaching capacity during peak periods and has limited emergency egress. The existing street-level elevator access is slow, inconveniently located and lacks redundancy.
With redevelopment underway in Crystal City, overall trip-making will increase and transit will need to capture a substantial majority of that increase, which will overburden the existing station entrance. In addition, large volumes of passengers transfer between Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express (VRE), but the transfer route is long, circuitous and has accessibility barriers.
The access improvement plan for the Crystal City Metrorail station includes a new entrance near Crystal Drive, at the east end of the station, to provide easier access from Crystal Drive, the VRE station and the Metroway transit station at Crystal Drive and 18th Street South. In addition, the access improvement plan includes elevator upgrades to improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide more conveniently located elevator access.
The new east entrance will include elevators, escalators and/or stairs, a fare payment area with fare vending machines, a kiosk, and an underground passageway and mezzanine to the existing train platform. The new entrance will provide additional egress during emergency situations.
WMATA will own and operate the new east entrance as part of the Metrorail system.
- Create a multimodal hub – improve the ability to transfer among Metrorail, Metroway, VRE, ART, and Metrobus services and improve pedestrian and bicycle connections
- Shorten commutes – increase connections to employment centers
- Give people space – relieve congested conditions at the current Metro station entrance and on the station platform
- Improve safety – provide additional exit options during emergency situations
Plan for a second entrance
Project justification and planning go back many years. Arlington County’s 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan identified access improvements needed at the Crystal City Metrorail Station. In 2014, the County and WMATA identified three alternative locations in the vicinity of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South for the new east entrance. WMATA finished a report detailing these alternatives in February 2014:
In 2016, Arlington County included the project in its Transit Development Plan and Capital Improvement Plan.
WMATA evaluated the alternative locations, conducted additional engineering analysis, and obtained input from the County and adjacent property owners to finalize the location of the second entrance. WMATA finished a report detailing the conceptual design for the second entrance in November 2019:
The public has helped shape this project for more than a decade, as plans for a second entrance were first included in the County’s 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan.
In spring 2021, Arlington County will host a public engagement meeting as part of the project’s 30% design phase, and WMATA will hold a public hearing as part of their review process.
Past public feedback has focused on accessibility, integration with future development, and intermodal connections. Comments suggested to:
- Include elevators, escalators, and stairs
- Locate entrance conveniently to the transitway and VRE
- Consider pedestrian safety crossing Crystal Drive
- Improve ADA access
- Minimize construction disruptions
Many of these features have been incorporated into project plans, and other comments will be considered as they need to be addressed (e.g., construction phase).
Public input has been reflected in the following plans and programs:
- Crystal City Sector Plan (2010): Engaged the public and stakeholders through more than 30 task force meetings, two walking tours, periodic community forums, a week-long charrette, and additional stakeholder meetings.
- Crystal City Station Access and Second Entrance Study (2014): Recommended the selected site through an alternatives assessment. Engagement activities included two public meetings in 2012 and two sessions at VRE Passenger Day and Crystal City Day.
- Arlington Transit Development Plan (2016): Included the project as part of the County's Capital Improvement Plan. The update process included four workshops, six events on draft recommendations, and multiple informational meetings presenting final recommendations. County staff also attended more than a dozen community meetings to share engagement opportunities and explain the update process.
- Capital Improvement Plan Updates (2016–2020): Discussed as part of four biennial CIP processes, including the most recent FY 2021 CIP adopted in July 2020. In 2020, the CIP was changed to a 1-year timeframe to accommodate uncertainties caused by COVID-19.
- County Staff Presentations (2018): Presented project scope at an open house in March 2018 and to the Transit Advisory Committee on July 21, 2020.
- Crystal Square Development Review (2018): County Board approved new retail development at the northwest corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South, considering incorporation of the Metrorail east entrance on the site. The redevelopment underwent a one-year public review process that included Site Plan Review Committee meetings, Long Range Planning Committee meetings, public hearings before the Transportation and Planning commissions, and an online survey.
The County's FY 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan includes $90.8 million for this project. Anticipated funding sources include state grants, regional funds, and local commercial real estate tax revenues dedicated to transportation. In 2018 the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority approved $5 million for preliminary engineering.