Alexandria and Arlington officials cut the ribbon today (August 23, 2014) that opens the Washington region's first BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system. Buses will run on dedicated, bus-only lanes without competition from automobiles and trucks.
The line actually opens to the public at 0730 tomorrow (Sunday, August 24).
In planning for over a decade and with construction begun in 2012, the 4.5-mile line connects Alexandria's Braddock Road Metro station with the Crystal City (Arlington) Metro station (see route map in the pamphlet below). The project is an effort, of course, to stem increasing automobile congestion in Northern Virginia, especially as Potomac Yard development brings significantly more population into the area.
Given sufficient funding and a resolution of political differences, the Crystal City-Potomac yard Transitway, more simply branded "Metroway," could give way one day to (or share the route with) streetcars. Arlington's government has been debating a Columbia Pike streetcar for years and, once built, hopes to extend it into Crystal City, where it could link into Alexandria's--if built. Alexandria officials, however, have focused on constructing a costly new Metro station to service Potomac Yard residents, although selecting a design has proven difficult. Until the fate of that project is determined, a streetcar system will remain on the back bench.
Funding for the BRT project came from federal, state and local coffers. The federal portion, said Matthew Welbes of the FTA, was one of 51 projects (nationwide) the agency chose to fund out of some 1,100 proposals.
Among those offering remarks at the "Swann Avenue" bus shelter on US1 in Alexandria, where the ceremony was held, were Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille; Mary Hughes Hynes, Vice Chair, Arlington County Board; Timothy Lovain, Vice Chair, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Matthew Welbes, Executive Director, Federal Transit Administration; Jennifer Mitchell, Director, Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation; and Jack Requa, Ass't General Manager, Bus Services, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
And now for photos from today's dedication and ribbon-cutting. Also included: a pamphlet with route map and explanation of the Metroway service. Following all this you'll see a selection of construction photos from start (2012) to finish.
Below is a helpful pamphlet on Metroway. Under it: a gallery of construction photographs.
July 11, 2012--it begins
May 31, 2013
August 14, 2014--It is finished!
August 24, 2014--First day of service
This concludes my tour of the new Metroway. It was great fun to photograph as it grew; I hope you enjoyed seeing the transitway's progress, too.