.Crystal City / Potomac Yard Transit Improvements

Project Overview

Current Environmental Review Effort

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, in cooperation with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, are planning transit improvements in the Crystal City-Potomac Yard (CCPY) Corridor. The project corridor extends from the Braddock Road Metrorail Station in the south to the Pentagon and Pentagon City in the north, a distance of approximately five miles.

The goal of the project is to provide high-capacity and high-quality transit service to residents, businesses and visitors in this fast developing corridor, particularly in Potomac Yard and Crystal City where major redevelopment efforts have been undertaken by the County and the City.  Planned transit improvements in the CCPY corridor include bus-only transitway, station stops, frequent bus service, and passenger amenities.

In 2007, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) approved the Documented Categorical Exclusion (CE) for the initial segment of the CCPY Transitway, in Potomac Yard and Crystal City in Arlington County.  In 2009, as a result of the Master Plan vision for Crystal City, the County proposed a modified transit alignment that would use both Clark and Bell Streets and Crystal Drive.  The project team is currently updating the 2007 environmental review study to incorporate transitway alignment changes in Crystal City and to update traffic and environmental impact analyses.  The project team will seek Federal approval of a revised Documented CE, which will allow the initial segment to advance through design and implementation.

Timeline for Initial Phase

Previous Phases

Crystal City/Potomac Yard Corridor Transit Analysis:

In 2001, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), in cooperation with with Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, undertook a transit alternatives analysis (AA, see publications page) to explore options of transit service improvements, as a response to the large numbers of new residents and office workers expected in the corridor. The results of that study were published in 2003.

Crystal City/Potomac Yard Corridor Interim Transit Improvement Implementation Strategy:

Since the completion of the AA, the pace of development in the corridor has increased. As a result, Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and DRPT have worked to develop a system that will serve the corridor until a Build Alternative from the AA can be put into place.

This implementation plan began with a series of workshops that engaged citizens, business owners, developers, and staff from Arlington and Alexandria in dialogues about the features that a transit service should have. The dialogue was sustained through monthly meetings of a Technical Advisory Committee composed of planning and transportation staff from both jurisdictions, representatives of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and DRPT.

Several technical memoranda have been prepared as part of the development of the implementation strategy for this service. These include a transit service implementation plan, station area plans, and an inventory of potential environmental issues within the corridor.

This implementation strategy describes the anticipated near-term changes to transit services as well as potential long-term scenarios for the corridor, under the assumption that the interim improvements will help establish a high-capacity transit corridor. The interim improvements are designed to prepare the way for future, higher capacity transit service—such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), or a new Metrorail station—without precluding any long-term options.

(Read the interim study reports on the publications page.)

Phased Service Improvements

Transit improvements are already underway and will extend into the long-term. Immediate and short-term improvements are being implemented to satisfy the demand for transit service brought about with new development in the corridor in the next three years. This includes the introduction of new routes such as Metrobus 9S, a six-minute peak route that serves the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new offices at One Potomac Yard and provides connections to Metrorail and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). In taking on a unique character or image and providing a clearly defined route structure, these improvements will set the groundwork for transition to higher levels of service.

Left: Passengers board the new 9S Metrobus, an immediate service enhancement that will pave the way for further transit improvements in the growing Crystal City/Potomac Yard corridor. Right: Model of the station stop area design for the new transit service (in front of the EPA building at Potomac Yard in Arlington).


Short-term service changes will be implemented in the 2- to 3-year time frame. The first segment of Arlington’s busway will open between the Arlington/Alexandria border at Four Mile Run and 26th Street South. North of 26th Street South, transit services will continue to operate in mixed traffic as design and construction of future transitway segments continue.

During this period, the Arlington Crystal City/Potomac Yard service will be extended to the Potomac Yard Shopping Center in Alexandria, and DASH will continue to operate a separate service covering the Alexandria portion of Potomac Yard.

The expanded Arlington Crystal City/Potomac Yard service will have headways of 6 minutes during weekday peak periods and 12 minutes on weekends and weekday off-peak periods. The portions of Alexandria previously served by Metrobus routes 9B and 10P will be covered by a separate service operated by DASH.

Left: One Potomac Yard, new offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and one of many new buildings served by the new transit system in Crystal City. Right: Farther south on Route 1, new development in the works at Potomac Yard.


Mid-term service changes will be implemented in the 4- to 7-year time frame. During this period, additional exclusive busway will be built in Crystal City north of 26th Street and along Route 1 between East Glebe Road and the Monroe Avenue Bridge.

Service between Alexandria and Arlington will be integrated into a single service running from one end of the corridor to the other, and will be operated by WMATA. Vehicles will start to make use of the new busway in Arlington and Alexandria. This service will continue to operate between 5 a.m. and 12 a.m. on weekdays and between 7 a.m. and 12 a.m. on weekends.

The mid-term service will be a high-capacity, high-amenity, branded transit line that will serve the corridor through the forecasted major phases of population and employment growth. It will function as the precursor to the long-term improvements considered in the AA.


In the long term, a BRT or LRT service in the corridor would utilize the busway and stops constructed as part of the initial service. There is the additional possibility of construction of an infill Metrorail station on the Blue and Yellow lines in Potomac Yard, at the site of the proposed Potomac Yard Town Center.

Parts of the City of Alexandria to be served by the new transit system include the area around Braddock Road Metro Station, left, and residential and commercial areas along Route 1 at Potomac Yard, right.



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