Virginia’s transportation plan for the proposed arena estimates travel impacts from home games during rush hour and funding needs.
ALEXANDRIA, VA — A transportation plan estimating road capacity and transit impacts with a new Washington Capitals and Wizards arena with strategies and state funding needs was released Thursday night.
The transportation plan was completed by engineering consultant Kimley Horn and funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The release of the plan is a key consideration for some state lawmakers before they make a decision on legislation for a sports authority to finance the entertainment district.
The transportation plan takes into consideration that an arena and entertainment district would bring increased visitors in and around Potomac Yard. One of local residents’ concerns about the arena is the local roadways like Route 1 and transit like the new Potomac Yard Metro station not being able to handle an influx of visitors.
“We are very encouraged by the results of this study by a nationally renowned expert in transportation,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller III. “Because Alexandria had the foresight to plan for this kind of dense development, we will focus on peak traffic around games and events, and we believe this study gives us a clear path forward. The Commonwealth of Virginia will continue to work with the City and its residents to create a successful multimodal plan that delivers the kind of gameday experience that guests want, and preserves the quality of life that Alexandria expects.”
The report had several key findings on traffic and transit. According to the report, the plan shows the arena would create more peak trips with the greatest impact during 40 home games overlapping with weekday rush hours. The most traffic to the arena — 55 percent — is estimated to come from the north through Route 1 and Crystal Drive. Another 25 percent would come from the south via Route 1, and 20 percent would come from the west via the Glebe Road interchange.
The report estimates that with an arena capacity up to 20,000 people, 50 percent of attendees would drive or take rideshare. An estimated 2.5 people per car would result in 4,000 cars, with 2,800 of these arriving during rush hour. The other 50 percent of attendees would take transit, bike or walk with an anticipated peak of 10,000.
With 2,800 more cars predicted for rush hour trips to the arena, the plan recommends maximizing throughput and efficiency on Route 1 and Glebe Road, minimizing cut-through traffic on local streets, creating dedicated rideshare spaces on and off site, and providing on-site parking to protect neighborhood parking.
To improve Route 1, the plan recommends expanding turning lanes to address backups, providing dedicated through lanes for commuters, providing dedicated turn lanes to separate game day traffic, and 2,500 parking spaces with queuing off Route 1. To minimize cut-through traffic on local streets, the plan seeks to intercept traffic with a “last mile” Metro or shuttle from Crystal City or Pentagon City from the north and Huntington and Eisenhower Metro from the south. Residential areas west of Route 1 like Del Ray and Arlandria are sought to be protected with residential-only park zones and increased enforcement on game days.
On the transit side, the plan calls for increasing Potomac Yard Metro and the Metroway Bus Rapid Transit capacity and throughput, provide bike connectivity from the Mount Vernon Trail and through the site, and invest in “complete streets” to improve the pedestrian experience. The plan calls for the Potomac Yard Metro to get upgrades like a pedestrian bridge widening, additional escalators, and more bus connectivity.
Funding recommended in the plan would come from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s transportation budgets over several years. Up to $215 million is recommended with the arena to address peak traffic and improve non-peak travel. That’s in addition to $110 million in funding already allocated for on-site transportation and infrastructure for Potomac Yard’s development plan without an entertainment district. The $135 million to $215 million in additional funding recommended would include multimodal capital improvements ($35 million to $70 million), base roadway improvements ($65 million to $100 million) and Glebe Road upgrades ($35 million to $45 million).
See a summary of the transportation report and a full analysis here. The City of Alexandria has more public engagement events coming up on the proposed entertainment district.