As the Arlington County Board prepares to vote on a preferred location for the new Crystal City station for Virginia Railway Express, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is backing a recommendation by county-government staff to put it east of Crystal Drive between 18th and 20th streets South, a quarter-mile south of the existing station.
The location “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” the business organization said in a letter to county staff, backing the proposal.
The proposed location (Option #2) is one of three to have been studied by Virginia Railway Express; the county government’s views will be taken into consideration but will not be binding on the regional transit agency, which runs commuter service from points west and south into Alexandria, Arlington and the District of Columbia weekday mornings and back out in the afternoon.
Some residents of residential properties in the corridor have voiced concern about the front-runner option, while county staff say the option provides “the best potential to balance the goals” of offering easy access to transit in a central location. Arlington board members are slated to discuss the proposal and vote on a preferred option on Sept. 19.
While Virginia Railway Express plans to select a preferred location shortly, there is no money yet budgeted to fund it. If constructed, the new Crystal City station would be 800 feet long, double the length of the current station, and would allow for two tracks rather than the current one to permit future expansion into reverse-rush-hour service.
Currently, Virginia Railway Express is allocated 38 daily passenger-train “slots” by railroads that own the track it operates on. Officials hope to more than double that number in coming years in order to meet expected future passenger demand.
The VRE operations board, comprised of elected officials from participating jurisdictions (including Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Katie Cristol) is expected to vote on a preferred location in October. VRE staff is recommending Option #2.