VRE advancing Crystal City expansion ahead of Amazon vote

Virginia Railway Express is moving forward with plans to build an expanded Crystal City Station, a key step needed to expand and improve service.

The VRE Operations Board is due to vote Friday to allow contracting to move forward for engineering work based on the already approved concept design.

Separately, the Arlington County Board is set to vote Saturday to approve an incentive package for Amazon on top of existing business tax breaks.

Arlington also plans to add a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro Station closer to the VRE stop, and Metro is building a new Potomac Yard Station in Alexandria just south of Crystal City.

New VRE station could help boost service

Today, there is only one platform that is about half the length of current trains even though Crystal City is one of VRE’s busiest stations.

That platform sits on the outside of the tracks so trains stopping there must be on that single track.

The redesigned station is planned to be in the middle of the tracks to make operations smoother.

Engineering work would include identifying any environmental mitigations required to meet federal guidelines. A separate but related plan would add a bridge over the tracks connecting Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.

The new VRE station is planned to be built along with an additional track in the area near Reagan National Airport that will lead up to a future expansion of the Long Bridge between D.C. and Arlington.

While the Long Bridge project could take longer to complete depending on funding availability, it is the key to the potential expansion of VRE and Amtrak service and potentially running MARC trains through past Union Station to Alexandria.

Regional planners hope Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City to return the area to pre-BRAC levels of office workers and other changes could increase the use of rail service.

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