Connected, safe, and enjoyable access is key to a successful urban environment. Reducing once burdensome trips between destinations, whether through transit or walkability can create and promote long-term economic sustainability larger than the improvement itself. For Crystal City, this improvement lies with its ability to connect, interconnect, and serve as a host to a dynamic range of transportation options. The Crystal City to DCA pedestrian connection, embodies part of this urban ideal and has the potential to create a dynamic urban environment unlike any other in the United States.
Many cities across the country are actively pursuing, through significant investment, the idea of an airport-city or “aerotropolis”. Crystal City, however has one strategic advantage that other cities do not: its location, so close to DCA, already positions it at the cusp of becoming an aerotropolis. Few, if any, airports in the country have the proximity to an urbanized area that DCA has. Although DCA sits at number 7 on the list of Airports closest to their downtown's, this measures to Washington DC, if you were to measure distance to Crystal City, it would beat the top airport almost 3 times over. No other airport has the type or scale of office and retail within a 15 to 20-minute walk that Crystal City offers. Crystal City has an enormous opportunity to create something unique in this regard.
To explore the opportunity, the project team developed a three-step approach to understand the benefits, constraints, and considerations surrounding such a connection. The project was phased into DISCOVER, SYNTHESIZE, and PLAN. DISCOVER – focused on collecting data from stakeholders, the public, and all available data sets. The DISCOVER phase's aim was to create a platform in which the next phase, SYNTHESIZE could build on. SYNTHESIZE – analyzed all the collected data to better understand the potential constraints and opportunities for a connection. This included developing and studying a series of alignments both horizontally and vertically, and potential improvements to existing connections. The synthesize phase resulted in a set of alternatives for the connection. PLAN – culminates the report and offers a vision of how the project can move forward. The plan phase focuses less on the design and selected alternatives, but rather paints a road map on how the project would be implemented, including preliminary costs, and potential funding sources.