Metro’s long-term plans for the Blue Line and Rosslyn

January 28, 2013

Source:  WMATA (Gene Thorp and Bonnie Berkowitz/The Washington Post)

Metro’s strategic plan, which outlines $26 billion in improvements to the transit system, includes a range of fixes and changes meant to handle the region’s population growth.

For beleaguered Blue Line riders, this long-term plan is meant to offer some measure of relief.

(An important note before we proceed: These long-term plans and goals aren’t set in stone. Metro’s board of directors praised the plan but noted that funding will be a major issue. And the board hasn’t actually adopted the plan; they are expected to decide if they will adopt it by the middle of the year. So at this point, these fixes are merely proposals.)

Blue Line regulars have already reported reduced service stemming from Rush Plus, and this is only going to worsen when the Silver Line opens. The tunnel at Rosslyn can only accommodate 26 trains per hour at the peak of the morning rush. Once Silver Line trains are added to the mix, the Blue Line will be cut to a mere five trains per hour at peak times (half the number of Blue Line trains using that tunnel before Rush Plus).

Metro’s plan includes a few ideas aimed at easing the track and station congestion at Rosslyn. These possibilities largely focus on riders that travel east to Rosslyn before switching to the southbound Blue Line trains bound for Franconia-Springfield, though helping those riders would ease overall congestion at Rosslyn.

One such idea would involve the construction of a new rail link between the Orange and Silver lines west of Rosslyn and the Blue Line south of Rosslyn, with Orange and Silver Line trains being shunted south to the Pentagon and continuing south through Virginia.

Another idea on the table is construction of new stations in this region. The plan mentions a second Rosslyn station as a possibility, one which could split the Blue Line from the Orange and Silver lines. There could also be a second Pentagon station, one that would similarly help Orange and Silver Line riders get to the Pentagon without using the Blue Line at all.

“When demand grows to the point where overcrowding has maxed out, we’re going to have to do something,” Richard Sarles, general manager of Metro, told The Post’s Dana Hedgpeth.

One of Metro’s two proposed new rail tunnels would also be part of this plan. This east-west tunnel would travel from Rosslyn, along M Street in Georgetown and on to Thomas Circle in the District; this would open up more space for trains to run east and west.

(The other tunnel would travel north-south under 10th Street SW and NW, letting the Green and Yellow lines split into separate tunnels, which is aimed at tackling congestion at and around L’Enfant Plaza.)

RELATED: Read the full plan. | Metro board praises new plan

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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