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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Imagine Lamond-Riggs

Northern DC has a huge swath of relatively dense urbanized area with little direct access to Metro. This area consists largely of the Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Brightwood, Manor Park, and Lamond Riggs neighborhoods, and the obvious reason is that there is no line running underneath Georgia Avenue. There are commercial corridors along this route on Georgia Avenue, Kennedy Street, Upshur Street, Blair Road.

While it is not economically feasible right now to dig underneath Georgia Avenue, that area is likely to get a streetcar connecting Silver Spring to the next station along Georgia, the Georgia Avenue/Petworth station (which technically is in Park View, just south of Petworth). The eastern reaches of this area would not benefit as much from this new transit line, however the opportunity exists to add a Metro station along the Red Line in the Lamond-Riggs neighborhood at Kansas Avenue and Blair Road:

View Larger Map

This station would lie about halfway between Takoma and Fort Totten, which are just under two miles apart. It would directly serve the Blair Road retail corridor, and if placed on the southeast side of Kansas Avenue, the New Hampshire Avenue corridor would be directly served as well.

What makes this site particularly amenable to a transit station is the plethora of suitable approaches. Peabody Street heads west and in less than a mile hits Georgia Avenue in the Vinegar Hill/Fort Stevens area. New Hampshire and Kansas Avenues head southwest into the heart of Petworth, an important neighborhood in the heart of northwest, densely populated and undergoing a true renaissance. New Hampshire Avenue also heads north through Takoma Park towards Langley Park, and this new station could serve as a hub for bus lines along New Hampshire.

Blair Road already connects this area to the Takoma station area, and linking transit-oriented developments can have a synergistic effect on the areas, like along the Orange Line in Arlington or the downtown areas in DC. To the south, Blair Road becomes North Capitol Street and crosses Riggs Road/Missouri Avenue near Fort Totten, another area which is rapidly growing. As Takoma and Fort Totten grow with more walkable, transit accessible developments, a station placed in between them could induce a string-of-pearls transit-oriented development environment that could become the focus of the northern part of the District, improving transit accessibility and the potential for growth and development. And it could be done without spending a single dime laying more track.

I imagine the first criticism of this station would be that it increases the time it takes to get downtown. For some, yes. However, there is an express train from Silver Spring to Union Station known as the MARC Brunswick Line. For many residents in Lamond Riggs, Manor Park, Takoma, Brightwood, and Petworth, it will most certainly shorten the amount of time it takes for them to get downtown. Considering the benefits of added grown and increased economic viability, adding one or two minutes to get downtown might be worth it. It certainly was at the New York Avenue station, which opened just six years ago and has induced billions in economic investment, even during troubled economic times.

What would this station be called? Track Twenty-Nine suggested "Kansas Avenue" some time ago, however I am partial to naming it after the neighborhood, Lamond-Riggs, or perhaps Fort Slocum after the nearby park and Civil War fortification. Though perhaps not well known right now, Lamond-Riggs has the potential to become a keystone for development along the northern edge of the District.

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