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Crystal City Pedestrian Link Could Mean A 5-Minute Walk To DCA


A proposed pedestrian link may give Crystal City residents and workers the chance to walk to the airport.

The new “intermodal link,” which emerged from the Crystal City to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Intermodal Connection Feasibility Study conducted by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, would connect Crystal City’s downtown with the only airport inside the Beltway.  

Nicknamed CC2DCA, the connection would be a bridge or tunnel connecting 2011 Crystal Drive and the airport’s Parking Garage C, allowing pedestrians to walk to the airport in five minutes. The new connector would also link a multitude of existing and planned transportation assets — two Metrorail stations, the Virginia Railway Express stop, premium bus service and the Mount Vernon Trail — with the airport and its 9,000 employees and 23 million annual passengers.

“The BID’s feasibility study aimed to solidify a bold idea into a realistic and understandable vision,” said Crystal City BID Chief Operating Officer Robert Mandle, the architect of the project vision and feasibility study. “The resulting alternatives analysis and conceptual illustrations captivated the imaginations of the public and elected officials as well as businesses interested in locating proximate to unparalleled mobility infrastructure.”

Following the release of the study in early 2018, funding for the next stage of the project was quickly included in Arlington County’s 10-year Capital Improvement Program. The CC2DCA project received an additional funding boost as one of the infrastructure projects included in the Commonwealth’s Amazon HQ2 package.

Arlington County staff is currently focused on working with state and federal partners to bring the state-approved federal funding under agreement and the project into environmental review, which will kick off with a competitive, county-led procurement process.

A rendering of the proposed CC2DCA

Crystal City BID President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel explained that for the growing community of Crystal City, the link is a big win for walkability, economic development and sustainability.

“It has always been our goal to make Crystal City a more walkable community,” Gabriel said. “Thanks to the city’s close proximity to DCA, we saw the chance to create a truly iconic pedestrian opportunity unlike any other in the U.S.”  

According to the study, existing walking routes between Crystal City and DCA are indirect and difficult to navigate, taking pedestrians up to 35 minutes to walk between destinations, despite the airport being 1,500 feet from Crystal Drive, the area’s main street.

The study concluded that not only would building a pedestrian walkway be feasible, but it would also strengthen Arlington’s long-term economic sustainability by attracting new businesses, residents and development to the area, including regional commuter rail service, an Amtrak station and even, one day, high-speed rail.  

“DCA is No. 7 on the list of North American airports closest to their city’s downtown, but this examines the distance between DCA and Washington, D.C.,” Gabriel said. “If you instead measure the distance from Crystal City, it would beat the top airport almost three times over. Our residents and workers should have a simple way to take advantage of this proximity.”  

Gabriel emphasized that CC2DCA represents the spirit of the goals and objectives outlined in the Crystal City 2010 Sector Plan that focused on enhanced pedestrian connectivity and multimodal infrastructure investment.

Recently, the feasibility study received the International Downtown Association’s 2019 Downtown Achievement Pinnacle Award, which is given to dedicated organizations around the globe that are working to create improvements to urban centers. The study won in the Planning category.

“The Crystal City BID’s innovative project received the IDA Pinnacle Award for setting the new standard for improving cities worldwide,” IDA President and CEO David Downey said. “The CC2DCA Intermodal Connection Feasibility Study has made an impact on Crystal City and demonstrates the continued commitment to champion livable, vital and thriving urban centers.”

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and the Crystal City Business Improvement District. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.