Name: Mary-Claire Burick
Job: President of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District
Past Jobs: President, MC Strategy LLC; Vice President of Washington Operations, Allbritton Communications (which owned WJLA, Newschannel8 and Politico)
1. Rosslyn is a busy transit hub and the area has experienced incredible growth over the past several years. You’re also in the process of adding Nestle USA HQ and its 750 employees to 1812 N. Moore St. How has the BID worked with WMATA, Arlington County and others to make people’s commuting lives easier?
Rosslyn has the highest daytime population density in Arlington, outside of the Pentagon building and also the largest foot traffic volumes in the county. With more than 1,000 businesses, 25,000 employees, 14,000 residents and more than a million visitors a year, it’s a busy place!! The BID knows commuting is an important part of daily life, so we are committed to working with Arlington County, WMATA, and other stakeholders to improve the commuting experience for employees and residents alike.
A big part of that, from our perspective, is improving our sidewalks, streets, and built environment so that everyone is able to get around easily and safely. We’re taking both a short and long-term approach to this. Last October, we partnered with Arlington County as they launched a transportation study to look at permanent changes to the transportation network in the core of Rosslyn, with the goals of improving safety and accessibility for all users. At the same time, we are using “tactical urbanism” strategies to pursue quick and low-cost changes that we feel will have a big impact. So far, we’ve improved four intersections using new bollards, paint, and lane realignment, as well as new car-proof planters throughout the core of Rosslyn.
I’ll also add that back in 2016 we launched the Rosslyn Streetscape project, a key part of our Realize Rosslyn sector plan, which will bring custom designed sidewalk and street elements, including new bike racks, trashcans, and signage. So coming to sidewalks in Rosslyn this summer, we will see the rollout of many of these elements.
Lastly, I want to point out that we have a lot of cyclists who commute to - and through - Rosslyn. Arlington County has made creating a better experience for them a priority by installing bike lanes throughout the neighborhood including new additions that feature protective bollards.
2. At this point, the Rosslyn-Georgetown gondola project is on hold. What are the benefits of a project like this?
As Rosslyn and the region grows, I think it’s important for us look at innovative approaches to improving our transportation system. We supported the gondola feasibility study because we thought it could provide commuters and visitors an alternative way to travel between Rosslyn and DC, and better connect our neighborhoods. We also thought it could have major economic benefits on both sides of the Potomac.
Ultimately, Arlington County decided to prioritize other transportation projects at this time, which makes sense given some of the challenges we face. That said, from our perspective, we love the innovative nature of the project, and will continue to keep an eye on it while we look for ways to provide additional, alternative options for commuters moving forward.
3. More on the gondola! If the intent is to be more rustic and get more footsteps through Rosslyn, why not participate in the existing water taxi network? After all, you love being on the water, according to your bio.
I am a HUGE fan of the water taxi, and if I had a magic wand, we’d be a prominent stop! But as I’ve discovered, participating in the existing water taxi network is not as easy as it may appear and there are a number of regulatory issues to overcome. But I am nothing if not tenacious, and it is a priority of mine to find ways that Rosslyn can utilize the Potomac River, as it is such an amazing benefit of our location in Northern Virginia.
Currently, we are working closely with Arlington County and the National Park Service to install a boathouse in the Rosslyn area. Similar to the Georgetown boathouse, residents and visitors will be able to take part in recreational activities or enjoy the river from the shores of Rosslyn. I personally hope to one day be able to launch my paddle board from Rosslyn!
The National Park Service is in the process of an environmental assessment to determine the impact of a boathouse on the river and shoreline. We look forward to the results of this study and hopefully getting this project off the ground soon. We would love for your readers to support the initiative when it finally comes to public comment!
4. What would you buy from The M-Shop, the newly opened Metro-brand apparel and gear store? (Don’t worry, you don’t have to travel all the way to Metro Center - the store has a helpful website detailing its inventory: http://www.dcmetrostore.com/)
The M-Shop was such a fun idea by WMATA! Of course, my favorite items are the Rosslyn mug and the Rosslyn mouse pad. The DC metro map coasters are also a great conversation starter, and the “future Metro rider onesie” is the perfect gift for our tiniest commuters.
5. Tell us about your commute. Where do you live and how do you typically get to work in Rosslyn?
I live in Arlington County, and typically drive to work each day. I do, however, use Metro regularly to get around Northern Virginia and DC for meetings and after-work events. Unless I’m going to Georgetown - in which case I walk or take the Circulator.
In addition, many of the BID staff use Metro to commute, as well as bikeshare to get around town. I think it’s important to bring all of these diverse experiences together when we are discussing ways to improve transportation and commuting in our region. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all issue, and we can’t approach it that way.
6. What are your favorite transit-related mobile apps? How do they help you get around?
My favorite transit app is WMATA’s Metro and Bus app. This app allows you to easily switch between bus and metro options, search via station or stop number, and provides up-to-the-minute arrival times. Back when I was commuting by bus to Metro, I also used Next Bus, which is a pretty accurate way to see when your ride is coming.
I also want to mention a local business, Sprynt, which we’ve partnered with this summer to help provide free rideshare transportation options along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. They have a great app that you can use to get a free ride when you’re headed to Rosslyn for one of our upcoming spring or summer events! The car is totally cool, essentially a large golf cart, and it’s electric, so kind to our environment.
7. Can you tell us about your worst commuting experience, in D.C. or elsewhere? What made it the worst ever? Please be specific.
I used to live in Columbia, MD, and commuted to Rosslyn when I was a VP for Allbritton Communications. I was often taking the MARC train at the time, and after sitting in traffic and missing two different trains, I arrived to find no parking, so I decided to just drive in. I then got into a fender-bender, and finally arrived, almost four hours late. That was the final straw that prompted our move to Arlington, VA, where we’ve been ever since. On my worst day now, I may sit in 20 minutes of traffic. Most days it’s a 10-minute drive and a quick Metro around town for meetings. Comparatively, I LOVE my commute!
8. We’ll give you three items to survive three hours on an Orange Line train stuck between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom. What are those three items and why? (Assume you have plenty of food, water and air ... and the restroom isn’t an issue).
Fully charged electronics are first on the list (I’m going to assume you are giving me internet access, or you’ll have a cranky passenger on your hands—Editor’s Note: Sure). My iPhone to stay up-to-date on the latest news, email, and goings-on in our region, and to whine about the delay. A good book is a must - nothing passes the time more quickly than getting engrossed in a really good read. Lastly, is wine included? If not, how about a glass (or two) of wine to pass the time.
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