Although the one stop on Metro's Red Line between Metro Center and Gallery Place may be the shortest train ride in town, it could become an underground walk for some. Metro officials are considering adding a pedestrian tunnel between the two stations to ease crowding from riders transferring at Metro Center.
Metro, which began studying the idea last summer, predicts such a tunnel could draw 11,750 people a day. In addition, Metro said, some Yellow/Green Line or Blue/Orange Line passengers would save a transfer if they'd planned to travel just one more stop.
The walk could also be quicker than waiting for a second train. Metro staffers said the walk is about 800 feet long, equal to a few subway platforms, or about two and a half football fields.
There are no firm plans to build a tunnel yet, but Metro board members did vote last week to continue funding for a final report on the idea.
J. Cole, a retired resident of the District of Columbia, said she welcomed the walk as long as she was not traveling alone in the tunnel. "It's feasible if you have shopping -- an excellent idea," Cole said.
Some liked the plan to make the tunnel free to everyone, not just Metro customers.
"It would be a convenience as a patron, especially on rainy days," said Sabrina Jones. But she said she would not feel safe in a tunnel without security cameras and a staff patrolling it.
"It would need the standard of security the rest of Metro has," Jones said, adding that as a taxpayer, she would also need to see how it would be funded.
The estimated construction cost is $30 million. Metro Board member Chris Zimmerman said the agency should consider recovering some of that cost by leasing out retail space. He and board member Gladys Mack also mentioned bringing in natural light to make the atmosphere more inviting.
"I hope it won't just be an empty tunnel. It could be a street beneath a street," Zimmerman said.