- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

The project manager for the new Metro subway station at New York Avenue NE describes the project as a case of “development-oriented transit.”

It’s a spin on the trendy call for “transit-oriented development,” and a good way to describe how a changing marketplace led to building the station, which opens today.

When planners drew the subway map in the 1960s, the neighborhood in Northeast was a warehouse district that had little need for a subway stop. But as the city grew beyond downtown, and developers looked for land, the area where New York Avenue meets Florida Avenue was a logical choice.

Developers approached the D.C. government in the late 1990s about the feasibility of adding a Metro stop within the existing Red Line and put up $25 million to help build it. The federal government contributed $25 million, and the city picked up the remaining $53.7 million.

“We’re anticipating the development,” said Chris Bender, a spokesman for the mayor’s economic development office. “When the office people and housing comes, we’re ready for them.”

Developers and several businesses also are anticipating that growth.

As 100 workers put the finishing touches on the Metro station yesterday — cleaning, repainting the canopy and repaving a few platform tiles — construction crews about 100 yards away dug the foundation for what will become the headquarters of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ATF even repositioned its building to face the Metro entrance.

On the other side of the intersection, XM Satellite Radio sits in its fairly new offices. Within sight of the Metro platform is the arch of the now-closed Washington Coliseum, also known as Uline Arena, where the Beatles played their first concert in the United States in February 1964.

The new Metro station is the 84th in the system, and the first built between two existing stops. Project manager John Thomas said the engineering to add a stop was more difficult.

“Just two weeks ago, we cut the track and reinstalled it near the platform,” Mr. Thomas said. “That’s the easy part. The hard part is the electronic train controls.”

He said engineers had to go into four different train control rooms and work with wires that had not been seen in 30 years.

For Mr. Thomas, five years of work end with the opening celebration today. He will travel on to another D.C. revitalization project — the Anacostia Light Rail Line.

Meanwhile, Metro’s Blue Line will open its three-mile extension to Largo on Dec. 18 with two new stations at Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center.

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