Out on Assignment


I thought I’d take the bull by the horns, as it were, and devote a little time to the assignment desk project by taking a field trip to Crystal City, and have a gander at one of the projects that my Congressman, Rep. Jim Moran, touted on his Web site.

$3,308,000 for construction of a two-lane busway connecting Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Arlington/Alexandria. Funding will go towards building additional bus station stops and pedestrian/bicycle accommodations. The busway will provide dedicated bus lanes and bus station stops for Metrobuses, ART buses, and DASH buses serving the corridor.

Crystal City is a string of high rise office and apartment buildings (high being a relative term–we’re not talking downtown Manhattan, by any means) bounded on the west by U.S. Route 1–which is a six-lane throughfare–and on the east the grounds of Washington National Airport. There’s a lot of defense contractors in the area, and a lot of federal government agencies rent office space there (this page lists all the office buildings owned or leased by the U.S. Government in Virginia’s eighth district; all those “crystal” buildings–Crystal Plaza, Crystal Gateway, Crystal Square–are there).

I’m by no means a professional (or even a good) photographer, but the next two pictures give some idea of what the place looks like:

Crystal City street

The above shot, facing south on Crystal Drive, shows a bike path in the lower left hand corner.

Crystal City traffic

This photo, taken at roughly 9:30 a.m. this morning, shows the gridlock on Crystal Drive.

Now, the $3.3 million Moran earmarked for this project–which, of course, is so negligible a sum in Washington terms that it’s somewhat peevish of me to devote much thought to it all–is for bike lanes, bus shelters and bus routes stretching further south to the Potomac Yard complex, a sort of glorified strip mall with a Target, a Barnes and Noble, a Best Buy, a multiplex movie theater with stadium seating, other assorted retail venues and the place I get my hair cut.

Here’s the a view of the mall…

Potomac Yard parking lot

…showing the not particularly crowded parking lot. On weekends, though, this place is packed. In between the mall and Crystal City, is this:

Condo construction at National Gateway

…seen closer up here…

Construction at National Gateway

The project is known as National Gateway; the first building to go up will feature condos “from the $400s to more than $1 million,” according to the rental information.

Maybe it’s must me, but I have a hard time imagining those folks waiting beneath a federally-funded bus shelter for to ride up to the Target…