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Votes

It's Bus Over Rail Option

The Crystal City Potomac Yard Policy Advisory Committee voted this week to recommend bus rapid transit as the preferred transportation enhancement for the corridor between the Crystal City and Braddock Road Metro stops.

The group is comprised of state and local elected officials from Arlington and Alexandria and a Metro employee. Members have met for the past 18 months to discuss transportation enhancements to link the developing Potomac Yard corridor.

“We have considered three options and feel that all of them require more study,” said Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley who, along with Chris Zimmerman, the chairman of the Arlington County Board of Supervisors, chairs the committee. “Since we were required to select a preferred option, we chose bus rapid transit, primarily based on cost.”

Options that were considered were bus rapid transit, light rail and more Metro stations. The committee agreed that all three options are viable and should be carried forward to the Environmental Impact Study phase.

When developed, the Potomac Yard corridor will contain 4.9 million square feet of office space, 1,250 hotel rooms, 232,000 square feet of retail space and more than 3,300 residential units. The Committee agreed that a bus rapid transit line, extending between the Braddock Road and Pentagon Metrorail stations, appears to offer the most cost-effective and best means of serving the traveling public and in creating a transit-oriented development that both Arlington and Alexandria envision.

“We believe that bus rapid transit is the best alternative at this point, for getting people out of their cars and using mass transit in this corridor,” said Councilman David G. Speck, a member of the committee.

THE NEXT STEP in the process is for local officials to take the recommendation back to the Arlington County Board of Supervisors and to Alexandria City Council for a vote. If these bodies vote to approve the recommendation, it will go to the Transportation Planning Board, a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments body.

“Council will consider the matter in January,” Donley said.

At some point, as a New Start project, the proposal could become eligible for federal funds. “These funds could pay for at least part of the Environmental Impact Study,” Donley said.

Whatever happens, bus rapid transit in the corridor is several years away.