Managers at Metro have released a sweeping vision for the future of transit in the Metropolitan Washington region. Among the most expensive items in the list: new, underground rail lines through downtown D.C. and a new tunnel to Rosslyn in Arlington County.
Metro's problem, in a nutshell, is its popularity. Our regional rail system carries about 750,000 fares a day. Over the next 25 years, that is expected to grow to more than a million riders a day. Even with all eight-car trains during rush hours, the central core capacity of the system will become constantly jammed.
"Where there is no longer capacity in the system, whether it's east-west [or] north-south, you have to split the system apart and provide additional tracks," explained Richard Sarles, Metro's top executive.
Metro's general manager outlined (for the board that oversees the transit system) a plan that calls for consideration of new underground Metro tunnels in D.C. beneath 10th Street, NW and beneath M Street, NW. Those underground lines with new tracks would include a new tunnel under the Potomac River into Rosslyn. This opens the tantalizing possibility that Georgetown could get a Metro station.
Georgetown, at one time, had rail service. A hundred years ago, trolleys ran there, and you can still see remnants of trolley tracks on some Georgetown streets.
The trolleys went away in the late 1950s, and community leaders in Georgetown were cool to the idea of a Metro stop when the system was being designed in the 1960s.
Mohammed Ali, who operates the Thomas Sweet ice cream shop in Georgetown, favors a new Metro stop in the neighborhood.
"Yeah," Ali told us. "That will be a very good help to the businesses and the community as well."
Georgetown resident Dr. Joyce Hagel-Silverman also wants Metro in her neighborhood: "I would like it very much ... because it's hard to park in many places and getting the Metro could take us to National Gallery, all the Smithsonian [museums], plus [the] National Press Club. Many of the places we go."
Dr. Hagel-Silverman's husband, Charles, however, expressed concern over what would be years of torn-up streets in Georgetown if the traditional trench format is used for constructing the proposed new underground tracks.
There are many other recommendations in the new Metro report, which is called "Momentum." They include extending existing Metro rail lines to Bowie, Md. and Centreville, Va. and Potomac Mills, Va.
The plan also calls for developing priority bus corridors as another way of moving people around the region in the future.