The Washington Post

After one $1 million bus stop, 23 others await results of Arlington review

The new “super stop” in Arlington, Va., has a stainless steel design, heated concrete floors, a state-of-the-art computerized bus schedule... and a price tag of $1 million. Post humorist Alexandra Petri hits the streets to ask bus riders what they think about it. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

A year ago, after Arlington County’s infamous $1 million bus stop drew international attention, county officials stopped construction of subsequent bus-and-streetcar shelters to review the cost and design.

County manager Barbara Donnellan and transportation director Dennis Leach will report the results of the review at a news conference Tuesday at the Arlington Mill Community Center and discuss “the way forward” for the 23 others planned along Columbia Pike, a spokesman said.

The “superstops” are intended to serve both the 16,000 bus passengers who travel on Columbia Pike each day, and the future passengers of the proposed streetcar line, which is yet to be financed or built. The construction of the first shelter took 18 months, and as soon as it opened, residents began criticizing it.

That criticism continued during the County Board special election campaign this spring, which was won by John Vihstadt, a critic of county spending, including the streetcar and the “superstop.”

A distinctive glass-and-steel structure, its roof line angles upward, which exposes travelers beneath to the rain and snow. Its steel benches are freezing in winter and superheated in summer. It has 10-inch high curbs and 90 feet of concrete, large enough for two buses to pull up at once. Embedded in the flooring is a heating element intended to melt ice and snow. An electronic monitor alerts waiting passengers to when the next bus will arrive. Arlington designed the stop, which was built to serve both buses and a future streetcar, while WMATA built it.

The first stop cost $575,000 for construction and fabrication, and $440,000 for construction management and inspections, officials said. Federal and state transportation money paid for 80 percent of the costs. The 23 subsequent stops were expected to cost $904,000 each, before Donnellan called a halt.

A typical old-style bus shelter costs $10,000 to $20,000, county transportation officials said.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.


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