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Greener Anacostia Metro station could serve as system model

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

A new report says a more environmentally friendly Anacostia Metro station could serve as a model for the region's other suburban Metro stations.

A study conducted as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Greening America's Capitals program recommends making the Southeast Washington station area more environmentally friendly by replacing much of the pavement with porous pavement, which absorbs much more water. Other environmental improvements could include building wetlands, similar to the garden at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, where the city plans to remove an entrance ramp to Interstate 295.

"[The concepts] could also be applied to other sites in the District and elsewhere to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices into pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements," the report released this week said.

The study, a joint product of the EPA and District agencies, gave the station poor marks for its largely concrete construction, which contributes to runoff into the nearby Anacostia River. Much of that is for bus service -- nearly 20,000 people use the station each weekday, but 12,000 of them take the bus.

Many of the system's suburban stations are also bastions of concrete, and some are being redeveloped to better serve pedestrians and cyclists. Metro planner Tom Harrington said the White Flint station in Rockville is similar to Anacostia's in that it serves a high number of bus riders and its redevelopment has had to take that service into account. As such, redevelopment there has mostly taken place to the west along Rockville Pike. Metro has similar plans for nearly a dozen stations total.

Pedestrian safety is also an issue for more suburban stations as ridership increases. Researchers found the Anacostia station was particularly dangerous because surrounding streets and intersections had poorly maintained crosswalks, nearby sidewalks and bicycle lanes were incomplete and wide curbs allowed cars to zip around at high speeds. Most notably, it found that people were actually driving across a sidewalk near the station to access a dead-end road.

To stop cars from crossing the sidewalk into the Shannon Place cul-de-sac, the report recommends turning that area north of the station into a wide pedestrian walkway that doubles as a place for temporary street festivals. The idea mirrors downtown Silver Spring's redevelopment, which transformed that section of town into a thriving pedestrian and retail hub.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement the report's suggestions could help the station handle the expected influx of riders over the next decade as several major developments in the area near completion.

lfarmer@washingtonexaminer.com

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