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MARC line and WMATA transit center to open


Passenger rail service into and within Washington, D.C., is about to change as Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Dec. 16 opens a new Pentagon Transit Center and Maryland Transit Administration’s MARC commuter rail begins service Dec. 17 on the Frederick extension into the city.

The Pentagon Transit Center was designed long before Sept. 11 as Phase I of the agency’s security upgrade for the Pentagon’s bus and rail service. But after the attack, bus service was shifted from the Pentagon to S. Hayes Street in Arlington, Va., above the Pentagon City Metrorail station.

The $36 million, two-level center, funded primarily by U.S. Department of Defense and Arlington County, has been under construction since March 2001. About 36,000 passengers arrive at the Pentagon Metrorail Station daily on the agency’s Blue and Yellow lines; 29,000 of them make a bus connection at the Transit Center. Combined, Metrorail and Metrobus carry 5,500 Pentagon workers to and from work daily.

Eighty-four bus routes daily use the center’s 24 bus bays, which have been moved to no closer than 280 feet from the Pentagon itself. Buses using the old Pentagon bus terminal were as close as 10 feet from the building.

The security upgrade’s second phase, which would comprise construction of a new Pentagon entrance building, and elevator and canopy at the Metrorail entrance, is expected to be complete by fall 2002. Phase II also would include a building from which the Pentagon's Defense Protective Services Division will monitor security cameras placed inside the center.

As additional safety enhancements, emergency call boxes are placed throughout the center, Metro Transit Police will be stationed there at all times, and a transit center manager also will be on hand to monitor the passengers' comings and goings.

WMATA plans to open the center Dec. 16 and hold a commemorative dedication Dec. 17.

That same day, MARC plans to begin revenue service of its 13.5-mile Frederick line, running three trains into and out of Washington daily. The $56 million construction project includes two stations and an overnight train storage facility.

Frederick trains will not stop at MARC’s Point of Rocks station because it is west of the point at which Frederick and Brunswick lines meet, and would require trains to back into the station. However, Frederick trains will stop at the major stations in Montgomery County providing connections to WMATA’s lines into Washington.

The 1990 census showed that 40 percent of Frederick’s workforce commutes to the Washington area.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/14/2001