More explanation after the break…
This design aims to reshape the city by moving more density outside of the current downtown, using the relocated Blue Line and the circular Brown Line as anchors. The density at the center of the city will always lend itself to rushes and crushes, but with a ring of density at the boundaries of the Federal City, the region can absorb more commerce without more lifeless business districts. DC has many beautiful areas downtown, but they often are sterile and, well, Federal. It has also developed some nice social centers, such as Adams Morgan and Near Southeast. They are a bit yuppie for my liking, but they are a start to creating a real downtown – one for the people who live in DC, and not only those work there. These areas that have become hot will remain so, I suspect, because they have good mixes of commercial and residential development, storefronts, good density, and are close to transit.
Adding more transit, in a fashion that creates a ring of urban density around the city is the next step, because it would refocus development and reduce the pressure to add more K Street Boxes in a choked, monolithic downtown. With reduced zoning that reduces the complicated use segregation and instead offers juicy carrots in the form of tax incentives, I believe the developers can be led to produce a pattern of good transit oriented design. In particular, creating places where one can walk to work and to shop is ideal, but that is just that, ideal. People will be forced to move from one place to another and a set time for as long as I can see.
Counter-commuting will always be possible for reducing crushes, but what would be better from a long-term planning perspective is exo-commuting: commuting in multiple directions, outside of the center of the city. It is for this reason, that the scheme I propose makes circular commuting easy, and attempts to take some load off of the downtown transfer stations. Look at this more accurate map and you’ll see what the general idea of the route is.
To that end, this plan does not run the new Blue Line down M street and back into its current configuration. Instead, it runs the Blue Line north, through Adams Morgan, Shaw, Gallaudet, and Trinidad to create a new corridor mostly on Florida Avenue. The development of the K Street and H Street streetcar corridors makes the usually suggested cross-town route redundant. Heavy rail, which is expensive and operates most efficiently with distant stations, should be used more to create neighborhood centers, nodes for street-level transit systems to intersect. The placement of the stations here seeks to create places for the most growth, preserving the beautiful rowhouse neighborhoods in Capitol Hill, in particular. Turning south, the line would cross under the Orange and Silver lines, with a parallel stop at the Armory and East Mall, which I’ll call the City Mall.
The second part of the project has the blue line cross the Anacostia and proceed to Ft. Dupont, Twining, a new transfer station at St. Elizabeth’s/Bellvue, Glassmanor, Oxon Hill, and terminate the National Harbor development. The Orange line would serve the blue line stops out to Largo, and Silver would serve Orange line stops to New Carrollton creating a one-seat transfer from air to rail. The southern section of the New Blue follows the Brown line proposal down to the Beltway, although it does not cross the Potomac.
Additionally, a set of tracks would branch off after City Mall/Armory and head west, using the Green and Yellow Line tracks, before reuniting with the Blue Line at Arlington Cemetery. This new service would serve as a social and tourist route, as well as relieving congestion in the central stations by allowing earlier transfers. I suspect that it would run with relatively few cars, because it would not serve much of a unique use. On the other hand, its prime location for popular neighborhoods means that it could run later into the night, much as some cities run trams on a different schedule at night, to reduce drunk driving without forcing patrons to take cabs. The line adds three new stops: Jefferson Memorial (presumably in concert with a new residential quarter there), Barney Circle, and Maritime Plaza.
Tying all of these stations together would be Metrotram. Almost every streetcar line I include here here has been suggested in some way, either as heavy rail, streetcar, or BRT. These lines are meant as secondary routes, connecting other density to heavy and regional rail sites, in some cases zig-zagging across subways. Lines include:
- The so-called Purple Line, from Bethesda via UMD and Riverdale to New Carrollton in the high-build LRT option.
- Purple Line south from Eisenhower Valley, through Oxon Hill across the Wilson Bridge to Branch Avenue.
- The Corridor Cities Transitway, in the ACT configuration.
- A route on Lee Highway, proposed in 2001 for a Silver Line express.
- The Columbia Pike streetcar, as proposed.
- The Georgia Aveune line, as proposed, but going down into Southwest, M street, and South Capitol Street past the Nationals Stadium into Anacostia.
- The K street/H street/Benning road line, starting at Georgetown University, and going to the Minnesota Avenue station.
- The Anacostia streetcar from Minnesota Avenue, past Anacostia, to Bolling AFB, and connecting to the new Blue Line at the end.
- A line from Tenleytown through Adams Morgan to Georgia Avenue and one through Bloomingdale and a branch to Washington Hospital Center, the National Shrine, Brookland and eventually Rhode Island Avenue.
- A line from the Woodridge terminus of Rhode Island Avenue down through Gallaudet, Lincoln Park, and over the 11th street bridges. The line would continue past Twining on Pennsylvania Ave.
- A section past Union Station and the US Capitol, connecting to the above line.
Additionally, other stations have been added to this plan, two at Potomac Yards, one at Eisenhower Valley, one at Ft. Belvoir, one at Oklahoma Avenue, and one at River Terrace, most of which I am borrowing from Greater Greater Washington or the NCPC’s schemes.
There are also some stylistic and graphic decisions made. In particular, stations that are transfers are considered single stations in the diagram, even if the lines do not share a single platform structure. I found that little connectors simply cluttered the map too much, and detracted from the minimalist design. So City Mall/Armory, V St/U St, Rosslyn, and Farragut West/Farragut North are single dots. The circular line is brown for obvious reasons. The streetcar lines on this map do not include all stops, because they are not all at the same scale as this map. All stations would probably be included on another tram-specific map. I have also shortened station names, and eliminated transfer stations at splits, since that always seemed unnecessary.
This was a fun exercise, but a time-consuming one. Perhaps I will add some of my other thoughts on the matter later, but not for another few months at least. One thing is that I hope that WMATA plans for new lines all at once, as they have in Russia (sometimes). Currently, there are stations like Sportivnaya in St. Petersburg, with second platforms that will not see service for 20 years at the earliest, but were built to avoid the ungodly transfer tunnels that have grown around other stations. As DC commuters have not yet suffered from those, they might not understand how great it is to have the cross-shaped open transfer stations we have in DC.
Always places to improve. I would love comments, though.