Possible Metro Expansion to Georgetown Discussed
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2013 15:02
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is examining proposals to construct two new tunnels for subway trains — one under the Potomac River connecting Rosslyn and Georgetown and one under 10th Street to Thomas Circle — to relieve commuter traffic.
WMATA officials brought the idea for expansion to their board of directors Jan. 24 but say that the plan is only in the preliminary stages.
“Last week’s plan was a draft, and these are basically ideas we’re trying to get input from the public, from our board on those priorities and ultimately if we know where we’re heading in terms of a longer-term outlook,” Director of Long-Range Planning Tom Harrington said.
The addition is part of Metro’s Regional Transit System Plan, a 30-year projection for area transportation, and Momentum, a 10-year expansion plan.
“It’s really again to help us figure out those shorter-term priorities for the next 10 years,” Harrington said. “If we know we’re going to be looking at Metrorail expansion in the long term, what are the projects we could do to get us set up to get there?”
Georgetown students’ main complaint with Metro is often its inaccessibility, especially on weekends, when Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle buses run less frequently.
“I think it’s too many stops and it doesn’t end up in Georgetown, so I usually just take a taxi,” Benito Skinner (COL ’16) said. “If the Metro was close to Georgetown, I would definitely use it.”
Tunnels under the Potomac and 10th Street would split the blue and orange lines, which intersect from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory, and the green and yellow lines, which currently meet at the L’Enfant through Greenbelt stops, respectively, Harrington said.
The tunnel under the Potomac will also defuse congestion from the silver line, which will provide Metro service to Dulles Airport and Tysons Corner. The first phase of the silver is due to be completed in late 2013 while a start date for the second phase has not yet been set but is estimated to be completed by 2018.
According to Harrington, Momentum projections also seek to up the Metrorail fleet in addition to expanding train lines, because it is expected that Metro ridership will reach one million people a day by 2040.
“If we don’t expand our fleet beyond what we have today … we’re going to expect some serious crowding issues by 2020,” he said. “The first thing we should do is maximize the capacities we have today by running longer trains and adding station capacity. Even if you do all that, by the time you get out to 2040, you’re still showing … lines above capacity.”
Harrington said that the main issue inhibiting the expansion is cost.
Metro’s budget is composed of two parts: the day-to-day operating budget, funded by fares, and the Capital Improvement Program, which is funded by federal, state and local dollars. While the annual budget under CIP is about $900 million a year, revamping Metro’s system will require $26 billion over the next three decades, according to The Washington Post.
WMATA officials are still discussing how to attain the necessary funding.
“It’s the starting-point of a discussion about options that are out there in terms of funding and where it could come from,” Harrington said. “But, clearly, we’re exploring new sources of funding to look ahead to a bigger expansion of the system.”
Students say they have noticed overcrowding problems while riding Metrorail, particularly when travelling to Verizon Center for basketball games.
“We went to a game and the train at Metro Center that we wanted to take to Gallery Place didn’t come,” Rui Hao Puah (SFS ’16) said. “There were too many people.”
Ron Lewis, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, said he would strongly support Metro service to Georgetown, though he thinks the expansion is unlikely in coming years.
“I think it will be a very long time coming, because I don’t think they have the money to do it in any near term,” Lewis said. “I would like it just as soon as possible. … It would be good for everyone.”