NBC reported earlier this week, that WMATA is again studying what can be done to relieve the train congestion in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom. NBC floats the possibility that the solution could ultimately lead to one or even two new Metro stops in Georgetown. Although GGW poured a little cold water on the possibility that the study would ultimately support such an ambitious plan, GM thought it would be a good time to revisit why it is that congestion on the Orange and Blue lines could help justify the Georgetown stations. Here is an article he published in 2013 after another Metro study supported the more ambitious plan:
As GM has written multiple times in the past, WMATA’s long term planners have contemplated bringing the Metro to Georgetown in the distant future. While the future is still distant, the planners nonetheless took an important step recently and endorsed a Metrorail expansion that would create two stations in Georgetown.
The exact details remain somewhat fuzzy, but as you can see above from the map accompanying the announcement, the planners call for a new tunnel under the Potomac and a new subway line heading underneath M St. and onward to Union Station. This part of the plan is very similar to most ideas the planners have floated in the past. But what the train would do after Union Station is dramatically different in this plan than in the earlier ones.
Rather than branch out through H St. and of eastward, the line would head south towards the Capitol, and then curl back through SW DC towards the Pentagon. It would in effect create a loop line, similar to other loop lines around the world.
The announcement from Metro is unclear exactly how the loop would work. It appears that possibly the counter-clockwise (i.e. outer-loop) would include trains on the Yellow and Blue lines, while the clockwise/inner-loop would be Orange and Silver line trains. As you move within DC, it doesn’t appear that it would make much of a difference what line you were on. But if you were heading to Virginia, it looks like you might have to switch trains at Rosslyn depending on where you want to go.
For instance, if the outer loop is indeed only Yellow and Blue trains, traveling from Georgetown, you’d have to switch at Rosslyn to get to Clarendon. But again, that’s just one possibility. GM has already seen a variety of different possibilities people have imagined for this arrangement. So obviously a lot is left to be learned, and decided.
Another interesting part of the proposal is the decision to create an express train between Rosslyn to Ballston. Interestingly, this was a part of a proposal Metro floated decades ago, but hasn’t appeared on recent proposals. It would ostensibly address the “Orange Crush” that affects Orange line trains as the travel through Arlington. An express train would draw more Fairfax and Loudoun County riders and allow for less crowded trains through Arlington.
Finally, it should be said that Metro is putting a target date of 2040 for these lines. That’s pretty disheartening, particularly when you recall that the first Metrorail line opened only 12 years after LBJ signed the law authorizing it. It is this long delayed time frame that is the target of the joint statements from the BID, CAG, GU, ANC, and GBA calling for Metro planners to cut that time frame almost in half from 37 years to 15.
If financing can be found for the line, the time frame can almost definitely be moved forward. So the task ahead for businesses and residents alike is to keep the pressure on and to support those working behind the scenes trying to get the ducks in a row. And with any luck, GM will be merely middle aged, not elderly, by the time the first train boards.