New alternatives in works for Metro’s Blue, Yellow line summer shutdown

A number of additional alternatives are in the works for the thousands of people who will see their lives disrupted by this summer’s shutdown of Metrorail’s Blue and Yellow lines.

Metro plans to launch a special trip planning website shortly, as local leaders in Northern Virginia plan alternatives to head off significant traffic jams.

All Blue and Yellow line stations south of Reagan National Airport are scheduled to close for platform and track work from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

“WMATA has developed an alternative trip planner that will alert riders to the various bus options that can get them to their destination or connect them to Metrorail north of the airport. The transit agency will launch the site and provide other communication materials in early March,” Northern Virginia Transportation Commission documents said.

Metro and the Virginia Department of Transportation have worked together on plans for bus lanes or other roadway changes to speed up Metro shuttle buses.

The shuttle bus alternatives planned by Metro are expected to carry a fraction of the ridership that usually uses the Yellow and Blue Lines, so there are also efforts to improve existing bus service.

Northern Virginia is considering improved transit signal priority software for the Metroway bus rapid transit system to speed up bus service between Alexandria and Arlington’s Crystal City and Pentagon City neighborhoods.

Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation is proposing discounts or other incentives and service improvements for Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express. This is separate from the new additional Amtrak train between D.C. and Norfolk launching Monday.

The state plans to fund up to 80 percent of local governments’ costs for certain programs meant to reduce traffic during the Metro shutdown, the NVTC documents said.

Alexandria, Fairfax County, and PRTC OmniRide have applied for the support for additional bus service, money to market the alternatives and funding for expanded efforts to get people to telework, bike, carpool, take the bus or flex their hours.

“Alexandria also proposed transportation alternatives, such as enhanced water taxi service and improvements to encourage pedestrian and bicycle travel, and strategies to improve bus access and circulation in the city,” NVTC said.

Other proposals include marketing efforts meant to get riders who leave the system back on Metro when the six stations — Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield — reopen in September.

The proposals set to be funded by the state are due to be presented to the Commonwealth Transportation Board later this month. The board would approve the funding in April.

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