By Feature Writer - Chris Loos. DC Wishlist is a weekly look at a new topic each week, from imminent projects, to long-term plans, to pie-in-the-sky ideas for the city. For the first installment we venture a little out of bounds to National Harbor.
For the uninitiated, National Harbor is a $2.1 billion mega-development on the Maryland side of the Potomac, just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The site contains 6 hotels, 16 restaurants, 20 shops, a marina, and a convention center so large it has a faux-town inside its atrium. If you haven’t visited National Harbor yet you really owe it to yourself, if only to see what $2.1 billion of new development looks like.
“But how do I get to National Harbor?” you ask. Well, that’s easy— It’s right off 495 and 295. “But I don’t have a car” you say. No problem, just take the Green Line to Southern Avenue Station, then catch the NH1 bus to the Harbor. Make sure you come back before 11:00pm though when the bus stops running. Too complicated? Well, you could take the Yellow Line to King Street Station in Alexandria, then catch the $7 hourly water taxi to National Harbor. Too expensive? Hmm…
Lets face it: there’s no good option for getting to National Harbor without a car. Indeed, administrators at the resort came to the same conclusion after employees complained about problems getting home from work. They asked WMATA, Prince George’s County, and MDOT to consider expanding transit in the area. The NH1 bus was eventually extended to run until 11:00pm on Maryland’s dime. This stop-gap measure doesn’t go nearly far enough towards solving the problem.
The irony of building a massive development in a transit-unfriendly area and then complaining about the lack of transit was not lost on local bloggers. Snarkiness aside, the fact remains that National Harbor is here to stay, and we need better transit connections to it. A Green Line spur from Southern Avenue Station is one approach. Others have suggested extending the planned Anacostia streetcar line to the resort, or even adding a brand new Metro line with a National Harbor stop. Until a solution is found, National Harbor will remain inaccessible to thousands of local car-free residents who would happily spend their money there. So what do you think? Is National Harbor worth expanding transportation options?