ARLINGTON, Va. — A long-delayed bus tunnel in Rosslyn that is expected to help ease traffic in the area and significantly speed up bus trips has now been turned over to Metro, and should formally open within weeks.
Metrobus and Arlington’s ART routes are expected to begin using the street-level tunnel June 24 through a glitzy new building between N. Moore Street and N. Lynn Street, Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said. The opening is timed to coincide with a number of bus route changes across the system.
Metro first announced in 2016 the tunnel would open that December as part of similar route changes, but it never did.
Metro, JBG SMITH and Arlington County each declined to detail what the outstanding issues have been with the tunnel or how those issues were adequately resolved to allow Metro to accept the tunnel this spring. JBG SMITH is the developer responsible for building the pass to replace an old alley removed for construction of Central Place.
The tunnel looks largely the same now as it has for much of this year, including signage in the tunnel and painted arrows and lines on the concrete floor.
Arlington County did not play a direct role in resolving the “punch list items” that were at issue between Metro and JBG SMITH, county transportation spokesman Eric Balliet said.
“WMATA did ask us to examine ways to help keep the tunnel entrance free of obstruction — as a result, our Transportation Engineering & Operations bureau installed new ‘no parking’ signs near the tunnel entrance on Moore Street,” Balliet wrote in an email.
Since Metro accepted the tunnel recently, some buses have been going through it already as part of training runs.
On Thursday evening, an unmarked black SUV with Maryland license plates was camped out in the tunnel, and cars parked along N. Moore Street would have made it difficult for a bus to turn into the tunnel.
When buses return to regularly using the direct connection across from the Rosslyn Metro Station entrance later this month, they will no longer need to loop around the streets in the area as some routes do multiple times today.
“This project should help improve traffic issues in one of the busiest parts of Rosslyn,” the business improvement district said in a statement to WTOP in April.
For bus riders alone, it could save five minutes or more each trip for bus routes like the 5A to Dulles Airport that use Interstate 66, the 38B that goes over the Key Bridge and through Georgetown or a number of routes that go down Lee Highway.
“The successful completion of the Central Place project reflects a long partnership between WMATA, JBG SMITH and Arlington County,” JBG SMITH Senior Vice President Matt Ginivan wrote in an email statement.
Construction work on the block continues, so buses have not yet settled into permanent stop locations at Rosslyn.
Separate work is underway in the area to upgrade traffic lights and widen sidewalks and trails in the Rosslyn area.