The bus rapid transit service Metroway will travel faster thanks to new funding connected to Amazon’s choice of Crystal City for a new headquarters. Metroway buses will go in dedicated lanes thanks to pre-existing money to expand bus facilities in Pentagon City and new funding for Potomac Yard. Funding spurred by Amazon will add new amenities at Metroway stops and pedestrian improvements to Route 1.
The Difference Between Metroway and Transitway
This was confusing to me, but I think I figured it out: Metroway is the name of the BRT service, and it already runs a route that covers the entire National Landing area. Metroway buses run up to Pentagon City’s Metrorail station and all the way down to Braddock Road in Alexandria via Potomac Yard. The “Transitway” through National Landing refers to the actual infrastructure Metroway buses use. So, improvements from Amazon-related funding will dedicate more road facilities to Metroway and improve the stops where Metroway already goes.
Without road facilities that separate bus traffic from other vehicles, bus transit isn’t very rapid. BRT service approaches light rail speed and targets a commuting audience with dedicated lanes, priority signals at intersections, and limited stops with shelters and improved pedestrian access. WMATA and NoVA governments have already delivered some bus dedicated infrastructure. Metroway’s route includes some dedicated bus lanes. But, Metroway buses share roads with other traffic in Potomac City, along stretches of Potomac Yard, and near the route’s Southern turnaround at Braddock Road.
Now that we’ve figured out you can already take Metroway the full length of National Landing, let’s see how Amazon HQ2 improves the road facilities for faster Metroway service.
$23 Million Already Coming to Expand the Transitway North in Pentagon City By 2022
Arlington’s Transportation Commission sought and won $28 million in funding for an expansion of the Transitway corridor North to Pentagon City. Page 66:
“This project is for the design and construction of an extension of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway from Crystal City through Pentagon City. The project is in the engineering and design stage. The project termini will be Crystal City Metrorail Station in the east/south and Joyce St & Army-Navy Drive in the west/north. The Transitway extension will run along Crystal Drive, Clark Street, 12th Street, Hayes Street, and Army-Navy Drive. The project will provide exclusive and/or dedicated transit lanes, passenger stations, utility relocations, signing and pavement marking, and traffic signal upgrades. Stations are anticipated to be located at 12th & Clark Street, 12th & Elm Street, 12th & Hayes Street, and Army-Navy Drive.”
Arlington won this funding starting FY 2019 (mid-2018), and their timeline put completion of these improvements at FY2022 (Mid-2022). At the time of the request, the County had $4.5 million in existing funding and needed $23.2 million more to finish the project.
Costs and Timeline Uncertain For Potomac Yard Transitway Improvements
In their most recent funding request, Arlington was just beginning to consider Transitway improvements south of Crystal City, but North of the Alexandria border. Page 69:
“This project is to plan, design, and construct the portion of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway “Segment C” between the Arlington County Line at Four Mile Run and South Glebe Road. The length of the project in Arlington is approximately 600 feet. The remainder of Segment C falls within the City of Alexandria. The project will consist of constructing two new southbound travel lanes on Potomac Avenue and repurposing the two existing southbound travel lanes as transit-only lanes. The project will include drainage, signing, pavement marking, and signal modification.”
In that same request, Arlington could not offer concrete cost or timeline estimates:
“Capital costs are at a highly conceptual planning level, with no design having been completed. Project schedule will be driven by completion of Transitway “Segment C” in Alexandria, whose schedule is unknown at this time. Therefore, timeframe is a placeholder.”
Alexandria To Pick Up Transitway Improvements South of the County Line
The Southern end of the Transitway includes a small strip of Arlington County before going into Alexandria at Four Mile Run, then Southwest toward Metroway’s Braddock Road terminus. In their detailed transportation map, NoVA’s consortium coordinating with Amazon described Southern Transitway improvements as follows (Page 5):
“Extends transitway from East Glebe to Evans Lane in Alexandria; extends dedicated lanes to connect Arlington and Alexandria’s portions of Potomac Yard across Four Mile Run.”
Metroway Commuters and NoVA Pedestrians Benefit from Route 1 Improvements
NoVA’s HQ2 consortium is promising Route 1 improvements in National Landing that push the high-speed car thoroughfare into more of a boulevard that serves bus transit and pedestrian commuters, who benefit from the associated traffic calming and amenities.
Page 5: “Route 1 at East Glebe: Improves intersection to acquire right-of-way; design and construct street improvements including an exclusive left-turn lane, through lane, and right-turn lane in the eastbound direction.”
Page 6: “Route 1: Modifies Route 1 to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and transit connectivity between Pentagon City and Crystal City.”