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With Amazon’s Arrival, Will Crystal City Get Its Bridge to the Airport?

by Nena Perry-Brown

Aerial rendering of the proposed Crystal City-DCA bridge. Click to enlarge.

A year ago, the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) put forth an ambitious proposal to make the city's proximity to National Airport more functional with a pedestrian bridge. It seems that bridge is part of what sold Amazon on Northern Virginia.

Rendering of the terminus of the proposed Crystal City-DCA bridge. Click to enlarge.

Earlier this week, news came that Amazon decided to split its second headquarters between "National Landing" (a new neighborhood knit from sites in Crystal City, Potomac Yard and Pentagon City) and Queens, New York. The decision came with a host of announced partnerships and amenities — including language about the bridge, which could turn the current half-hour walk between Crystal City and the airport into a 3-5 minute trip. 

The Crystal City BID completed a feasibility study on the "CC2DCA" connection in February, finding either a bridge or a tunnel is doable at an estimated cost of $16-38 million. 

"A new pedestrian connection would strengthen Arlington’s long-term economic sustainability, help Crystal City attract additional rail service operations like Amtrak and Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC), and cement the airport as an “aerotropolis” connecting an estimated 10,000 airport passengers to Crystal City per month," the feasibility study states.

Rendering of the proposed Crystal City-DCA bridge above the freeway. Click to enlarge.

The most feasible alignment of the pedestrian connection would go from the Metro terminal and Parking Garage C at the airport to 2011 Crystal Drive, a building owned by JBG Smith (which is also the only real estate company in the CC2DCA working group). Although the feasibility study keeps both a bridge and a tunnel connection on the table, press releases and the plans for National Landing seem to imply that the bridge is a foregone conclusion, as it would be the only option with a direct connection to both the Mount Vernon Trail and a new VRE Railway platform.

Rendering of the approach to the pedestrian connection. Click to enlarge.

For more of a taste of what likely sold Amazon on National Landing as a campus site (and perhaps what inspired the name "National Landing"), read the feasibility study excerpt below:

"DCA sits at number seven on the list of airports closest to their downtowns—but that report measures the distance from DCA to Washington, DC. If you instead measure the distance from DCA to Crystal City, DCA would be nearly three times closer to its 'downtown' than the top airport. None of the airports listed have the type or scale of office and retail space accessible within a 15- to 20-minute walk that Crystal City offers."

Funding for the early planning stages of the project was included in Arlington County's Fiscal Year 2019-2028 Capital Improvement Plan, which the board approved in July. The timeline for this project puts its completion at least 6 years out, following a year of planning, 2-3 years of design and environmental work, and an additional two years for permitting and construction. The project is also meant to coincide with VRE's planned station improvement project. We'll see if Amazon's impending arrival expedites this process.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/with-amazons-arrival-will-crystal-city-get-its-bridge-to-the-airport/14690

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