Crystal City Metro Station Second Entrance


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

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In Design

A team led by JBG Smith has completed the 30% design for the East Entrance project submitted a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) proposal for Final Design and Construction in April 2023. County staff has evaluated and negotiated the GMP and the County Board approved on July 15, 2023. Final Design is anticipated to begin in summer of 2023, and construction is expected to begin in fall of 2024 and last about 2.5 years.


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

Arlington County engaged with the community throughout the project lifetime. See below.

Design Process Public Information Meeting

On September 6, 2022, County transportation staff and representatives from the project’s design team hosted a virtual public meeting to share the 30% plan for the updated design, which features an at-grade (ground-level) ticketing mezzanine. They also answered questions and solicited input on some of the design details to be used in the new approach. 


County Board Meeting - March 2022

In March 2022, the project team received 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. 


WMATA Compact Hearing - July 2021

WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority), 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: 


Earlier Feedback

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. 



This project was included in the current FY 2023 - 2032 CIP at an estimated cost of $94.9 million. The CIP cost estimate was based on conceptual planning work. The revised project cost is based on a detailed 30% design plan, as well as a redesign of the station entrance and massing at 18th Street and Crystal Drive. Additionally, upward cost pressures industry-wide since the initial estimate have together resulted in a new project cost of $146.1 million based on the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) proposal for final design and construction at $117.2 million plus updated estimates for the County, WMATA, and contingency costs.

During the development of the FY 2025 - 2034 CIP, staff will balance funding based on updated project schedules, estimates, and staff recommendations.