Acknowledging that Arlington County Board members aren’t yet fully on board, the panel overseeing Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has voted to move forward on a plan to relocate the passenger platform in Crystal City.
VRE’s operations board on Oct. 20 ratified the selection of “Option 2” – east of Crystal Drive between 18th and 20th streets south – that had been recommended by staff for an expanded passenger area.
The vote was unanimous and included the support of Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Katie Cristol, who said support for Option 2 did not conflict with the County Board’s action a month before.
In September, the Arlington board declined to endorse Option 2, instead asking for more study of it and another alternative that would place the station near 23rd Street South, several blocks south of Option 2.
Residents of condominium units near Option 2 rallied to oppose the location, citing pollution, noise and other concerns. The staff of Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz supported Option 2, as did the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.
In their September vote, Arlington officials acknowledged that Option 2 was the preference of VRE officials, and also acknowledged that there is not money in the pipeline to fund studies for multiple locations.
During the September meeting with Arlington’s leadership, VRE officials promised to come back with more specifics on a number of points raised by the community and County Board members.
VRE officials are seeking to construct a new station/platform area to allow for longer trains to accommodate growth. Each of the three new locations that had been under consideration also allows for two tracks, rather than the current one.
The rail system is operated by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transit Commission and the Northern Virginia Transit Commission, with its operating board made up of officials from the various jurisdictions. Using trackage owned by CSX, VRE runs commuter service from points west and south into Alexandria, Arlington and the District of Columbia weekday mornings, then back out in the afternoon.