The Washington Post

Arlington, WMATA to study bus stop cost

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)

Arlington County and WMATA will team up to review how the new bus stop on Columbia Pike came to cost $1 million, and what lessons they can learn before the next 23 are built.

“We will have a full, independent review of the process and the costs associated with the project. The review also will help us pinpoint ways that Arlington could cut costs moving forward,” Donnellan said in a statement. “We will make those findings available to the public.”

The $1 million cost of the “super stop” at Walter Reed Dr. and Columbia Pike has come under intense criticism since it opened last month. The cost was first revealed by a local blog, After The Post’s story was published, multiple local and national television stations also weighed in. Landscape architects and designers have also weighed in.

As a result of that feedback, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said last week that further construction would be put on hold while she ordered staff to improve the design and review the costs.

The Post had sought more details about how a bus stop, even one with a state-of-the-art electronic monitor, heated flooring and modern glass-and-steel design, could cost so much. A typical old-style bus shelter cost $10,000 to $20,000, county transportation officials said. The county had previously said $575,000 of the price was for construction and fabrication, while $440,000 was the cost of management and inspections. Arlington designed the stop, which was built to serve both buses and a future streetcar, while WMATA built it.

The project, part of a big redevelopment plan for Columbia Pike, sought community response for several years before the design was finalized. It took 18 months to build.

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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