Crystal City Metro Station Second Entrance

Location

In Crystal City on the northwest corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South, Arlington, VA 22202  View Map

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Status

In Design

In March 2022, the project team is seeking County Board approval to alter the design of the second Metro Entrance from a largely underground facility to an at-grade structure.

The recommendation was put forth after a new cost estimate found that the underground concept significantly exceeded the existing budget, threatening the project’s viability. The recommended shift is expected to reduce cost and risk compared to the underground concept while still providing the project’s benefits, such as increased station capacity and enhanced access to the Crystal Drive corridor and the VRE station.

More information about the revised concept design is included in the Public Process section below.

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, stairs, a fare payment area with fare vending machines, a kiosk, and an underground passageway to the existing train platform. The new entrance will provide additional egress during emergency situations.

Arlington County is developing the project on behalf of WMATA, which will ultimately own and operate the new entrance as part of the Metrorail system. In 2019, the County accepted a PPEA proposal from a team led by JBG Smith to perform the 30% design for the East Entrance Project. 

DES Crystal City Metro 2nd Entrance map

Map of proposed second entrance location 

Project goals
  • 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
  • Meet accessibility needs – provide direct access for customers with mobility challenges to areas east of the station
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:

Public Process

County Board Meeting – March 22

In March 2022, the project team sought County Board approval to alter the design of the East Metro Entrance from a largely underground facility to an at-grade structure. The recommendation was put forth after a new cost estimate found that the underground concept significantly exceeded the existing budget, threatening the project’s viability.

The recommended at-grade design would construct a standalone headhouse structure along 18th Street S, with faregates, ticket machines, managers kiosk. Passenger entrances would serve 18th Street S on the south side and the future Metro Market Square public space envisioned in the Crystal City Sector Plan on the north side. As with the previous concept, stairs and an elevator would provide access from the headhouse to the platforms.

Under the revised design approach presented to the County Board, the project team will use the remaining design funds to develop a 30% design for the at-grade alternative. At the conclusion of the 30% design phase, the PPEA partner will present to the County a “Guaranteed Maximum Price” (GMP) proposal to finalize the design and construct the entrance as a design-build project. Following the submittal of the GMP, the County can choose to accept the proposal, to seek other bidders, or to continue to advance the design further before entering into a construction contract.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Compact Public Hearing - July 2021

WMATA, supported by the project team, held a public hearing on the proposed new entrance to Crystal City Metrorail Station on July 13, 2021.

Project Q&A Session - March 2021

The project team held a live virtual question and answer session on March 31, 2021. Staff answered questions about the design process and environmental review activities.

Project Update - February 2021

This video provides an update on work to advance the project design:

Previous Outreach

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. 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.

Funding

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.