Level of Effort: 5 minutes, at home in your PJs
Deadline: Tue 10/3 11:59pm

CC2DCA, the bike & pedestrian bridge connection from Crystal City to National Airport is reaching the end of the environmental review phase. The plan is looking good, but there are two looming dangers that could significantly harm the project & the team needs to hear from you about them!

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) which controls the airport, is very focused on cars and on revenue.  They're currently blocking the most straightforward and convenient alignment for CC2DCA because it would remove a row of parking from one parking garage.  If MWAA gets their way, we may end up with a bridge connection that is steep, circuitous, and could even require an additional set of stairs/ramping/elevator in order for travelers to connect to the airport.  We must speak up for a simple, direct, and flat alignment for CC2DCA!

Second, the National Park Service has been fighting this project all along and the proposed programmatic agreement gives NPS near-veto power over every design decision.  Going forward under this agreement is likely to result in a bland, too-narrow connection.  We need a design that compliments & enhances the context of the GW Parkway, not one that tries to blend into the background.

Email info@cc2dca.us with your comments.  Here is a sample email:

Subject: Comments on CC2DCA Draft EA

Dear Mr. Kling,

I strongly support Arlington’s plans for CC2DCA. The project will promote sustainable transportation by providing a one-of-a-kind bicycle/pedestrian link between a fast-growing business district, an international airport, Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Amtrak's planned Crystal City Station, the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway, and the Mt Vernon Trail.

Connection at DCA 

I am concerned about the design of the eastern end of CC2DCA where it interfaces with DCA. It is critically important the CC2DCA be short, simple, direct, and minimize grade changes.  The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's (MWAA) request to avoid impacts to the existing parking garage while also avoiding potential conflicts with a planned roadway ramp seems destined to sabotage these goals of simplicity, directness, and minimization of grade changes. Rather than compromising the project by inconveniencing all bridge users, it is imperative that MWAA design its roadway to enable a level connection between the eastern end of CC2DCA and the existing walkway to Terminal 2 at DCA. 

Support for Bicycles

While the bridge is repeatedly described as a bicycle/pedestrian connection in the environmental documentation, and indeed they are specifically called out in the "purpose and need" statement of the project, how the design will accommodate bicycles, particularly larger family bikes is extremely unclear.  Access to CC2DCA from Crystal Drive appears to only be possible via stairs or an elevator rather than allowing bikes to ride directly up a ramp making access awkward and slow.  The elevators are being built by VRE and there is little obvious evidence of coordination between CC2DCA and VRE to ensure these elevators are properly sized to support bicycles.  The EA's strong focus on minimizing the visual impacts of bridge is in direct opposition to building a bridge wide enough to minimize the safety impacts.  Ensuring a safe, convenient connection for both people walking and people riding requires a sufficient width to provide them each dedicated space; the strong focus on minimizing visual impacts pushes instead toward the minimum possible width for the connection.  Safety and ease of use should be more important here than minimizing visual impact along a roadway that is already crossed by multiple bridges.

Design Constraints

The draft Programmatic Agreement commits Arlington to designing the project in a way that "minimizes potential adverse impacts resulting from introducing new features into the identified historic properties affected by the Project."  It also requires Arlington to "consider and incorporate, to the fullest, reasonable extent…" all design feedback by the National Park Service (NPS).

These requirements, while well-intentioned, are misguided and should be removed. National Landing is one of the most dynamic neighborhoodsplaces in the county. CC2DCA can and should reflect that context by serving as a world-class gateway to the neighborhood and the region for the millions who travel through DCA each year. Rather than view the project as a threat, NPS should embrace this opportunity by pushing for a design that complements, rather than copies, the existing condition.  NPS' current desire to have the bridge blend into its surroundings, rather than complimenting them, is likely to result in a design that is too narrow for the traffic it will receive, creating conflicts between users. Accordingly, I object to the inclusion of these design constraints within the programmatic agreement and suggest that the agreement be revised to provide more design flexibility. 

CC2DCA is a once-in-a-generation project with the potential to promote sustainable transportation while providing a world-class gateway to National Landing and the entire region. The EA reflects Arlington’s thoughtful approach to project planning thus far, and I strongly support it. To ensure CC2DCA fulfills its full potential, I encourage Arlington to work with MWAA and NPS during the next phase to ensure the design and functionality of the project are not compromised.