Franconia-Springfield Metrorail Line Completion

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) opened the last 3.3 mile section of the Franconia-Springfield Metrorail line ("J" Route) on June 29, 1997. One station is on this new section, the Franconia-Springfield Station, which is the terminal station for this line. The station includes a 3,856 vehicle 6-story parking garage (Metro's largest), and an interchange with the Franconia-Springfield Parkway. The Metro station has an adjacent Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter rail station, with cross-platform interface. There are stopping bays for transit busses also. A new northbound offramp from nearby I-95 serves the station access road. The reversible HOV-3 roadway on I-95 has a full interchange with the Franconia-Springfield Parkway, so HOV-3 autos and express busses have a direct route into the station.

This complex is also called the Franconia-Springfield Transportation Center. That is a fitting name, since it is a hub for rail transit, bus transit, and autos. It is about a mile from Springfield, and it is close to the Springfield Mall. The station is in a convenient position to intercept traffic from the I-95 south corridor, as well as other major arterials.

The cost for the "J" Route extension was $176 million. Metrorail is now complete in Northern Virginia, there is about 30 miles of line and there are 20 stations. Now 93 miles of the approved 103-mile Metro system is in operation, as are 75 of 83 stations.

Blue Line trains run on this route, the two Blue Line Metro terminals are the Franconia-Springfield Station and the Addison Road Station (near Capital Heights, MD). The entire Blue Line is now complete. The "J" Route has another station also, the Van Dorn Street Station, which was the temporary terminus before the current opening. On June 15, 1991, the "J" Route opened from King Street to Van Dorn Street in Alexandria, 3.6 miles. So the entire Franconia-Springfield Line is 6.9 miles long.

I went to the opening day ceremonies. These Metro openings always attract a lot of fanfare. Banners proclaimed "End of the Gridlock Blues" for southern Fairfax County. Certainly the completion of Metro in the Washington south suburbs is a cause for celebration. Blue Line trains are now in position to relieve traffic on the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia. This is a tremendous addition to the transportation system of Northern Virginia. With the recent completion of the 19-mile extension of the reversible HOV-3 roadway on I-95, this corridor has experienced major capacity addition.

I rode the line into National Airport, and then back. Very nice ride. The "J" Route was built from downtown Alexandria, along the Norfolk-Southern Railway and CSX Transportation railroad line corridors, out to near Springfield. While I was at the new station, a couple long freights and a couple Amtrak trains went by on the adjacent railroad tracks.


Above, opening day at the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station. Blue Line train awaits departure for National Airport and D.C.


Above, end of the Franconia-Springfield Line, on opening day. There is no extension planned at this time. The two-track line to the left is the CSX Transportation (old RF&P) railroad mainline. It connects D.C. and Richmond and carries freight trains, Amtrak trains, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter trains. The VRE has a station right next to the Metro station.


Above, Franconia-Springfield Station, taken August 1997, from the roof of the 6-story parking garage. Notice the bus bays for interfacing busses, and the enclosed walkway from the garage to the station.

All photos taken by Scott Kozel.

Copyright 1997-2005 by Scott Kozel. All rights reserved. Reproduction, reuse, or distribution without permission is prohibited.

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By Scott M. Kozel, Roads to the Future

(Created 8-14-1997, converted 4-16-2005)