Release Date: Oct 6, 2020
National Landing BID Unveils Bold Vision for the Future of Route 1
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NATIONAL LANDING BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT UNVEILS BOLD VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF ROUTE 1
The BID’s “Reimagine Route 1” Report Presents Innovative Concepts to Transform Raised Highway into a Pedestrian-Friendly, Walkable Urban Boulevard Uniting Two Communities
ARLINGTON, VA – October 6, 2020 – The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) released its new report, Reimagine Route 1, which offers a number of guiding principles and potential concepts for transforming Route 1 in Arlington County into a pedestrian-friendly and multi-modal urban boulevard.
The report, which was released following a presentation to a coalition of civic associations, coincides with the launch of the Route 1 Multimodal Improvements Study by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) examining “enhanced multimodal connectivity and accommodations along and across Route 1 in Crystal City, to meet the changing transportation needs of this growing urban activity center.” Route 1 improvements were included as one of five projects the state agreed to pursue as part of its agreement with Amazon.
The aim of the report is to start a conversation about how Route 1 could be reimagined to improve connectivity, create a more attractive place, and unlock economic value for the corridor. The concepts draw upon national best practices in Great Street design and highway-to-boulevard conversions, while responding to current downtown urban design and mobility trends, most notably the humanizing of highway infrastructure.
“Through smart design and a sustainable approach, we have a rare opportunity to remake Route 1 into an iconic corridor serving a thriving urban neighborhood,” said BID President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel. “If done right, Route 1 can be transformed into an inspired gateway to National Landing that prioritizes the community by putting people first.”
Route 1 was originally designed to accommodate the auto-centric development trends of the mid-20th century, when the primary objective was to move cars through the area as quickly as possible. The resulting elevated highway, super blocks, and oversized intersections divided the community for decades, inhibiting not only connectivity and access, but also the area’s ability to come together as a singular downtown district.
The BID’s report offers three distinct concepts, each of which would bring Route 1 to grade, knit the neighborhoods together and create safer and more seamless east-west connections along improved existing streets. The BID notes that these concepts represent just a few of the many possible permutations of new roadway designs that would align with their vision for National Landing as a truly walkable and connected downtown and the goals of the Crystal City Sector Plan.
Each configuration prioritizes safe, comfortable and convenient crossings; promotes walking, biking, mass transit and other sustainable forms of mobility; encourages human connections and scale; and provides dedicated and well-defined spaces for all users via a street network that is intuitive, attractive, smart and flexible.
"The concepts presented in Reimagine Route 1 draw upon best practices in urban street design by placing people at the center of National Landing’s future," said Matt Gerber, General Manager of the Westin Crystal City, which is located along Route 1, and Co-Chair of the BID's Transportation Committee. "Narrow lane widths, lower design speeds, and urban intersection geometries ensure that the autocentric mistakes of the past will not be replicated in the development of the corridor’s new and distinctly community-focused identity.”
In addition to the transportation benefits, a reconfiguration of Route 1 would free up space to incorporate people-centric amenities, such as widened sidewalks, café seating, lighting, and lush landscaping, and create room for further commercial and residential development. The BID report notes that the new development sites could be used to add needed housing, while helping finance the project and strengthening the County’s long-term tax base.
Reimagine Route 1 explains that any successful improvement initiative must take a holistic view of the entire corridor stretching south to Alexandria. Commensurate improvements to existing at-grade intersections, including 20th and 23rd Street, as well as the intersecting streets themselves, must also be made. Potential multimodal street improvements to 15th, 18th, 20th, and 23rd Street are also outlined in the report.
To read the full Reimagine Route 1 report and its preliminary concepts, please visit: nationallanding.org/Route1.
About the National Landing Business Improvement District
The National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) is a public-private partnership established to promote and activate the area’s business, retail, restaurant and residential community through placemaking, public art, transportation, economic development, events, marketing and promotion. This dynamic, mixed-use urban center encompasses the vibrant Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard-Arlington neighborhoods, and includes more than 26,000 residents, nearly 12 million square feet of office space, approximately 5,900 hotel rooms and over 450 restaurants and shops. Already Virginia’s largest walkable downtown, National Landing is in the midst of an exciting transformation driven by billions of dollars in public and private investment that will deliver new and enhanced housing, offices, parks, transportation and infrastructure in the coming years. The National Landing BID is helping to steer this growth in ways that are sustainable and enhance the area’s diversity and livability. For more information, visit NationalLanding.org and connect on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.