Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area/Largo Metrorail Extension

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Largo Extension

Washington, DC/MD

(November 1999)

(click here for map)


The Maryland Mass Transit Administration (MTA) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are joint lead local agencies planning a proposed 3.1 mile heavy rail extension of the Metrorail Blue Line. The proposed Largo Metrorail Extension will be from the existing Addison Road Station to Largo Town Center, located just beyond the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The project follows an alignment that has been preserved as a rail transit corridor in the Prince George’s County Master Plan. The 3.1 mile alignment, containing at-, above- and below-grade segments, has been modified to be underground or covered between Central Avenue and the Capital Beltway to address concerns raised during public review of the DEIS. Two new stations will be provided at Summerfield and at the Largo Town Center Station. The stations will provide 500 and 2,200 park-and-ride spaces, respectively, plus a hundred or more kiss-and-ride spaces and 11 bus bays each. A number of WMATA and Prince George’s County bus routes will connect to the two new stations; shuttle bus service is proposed between both stations and the FedEx Field (formerly known as the Redskins Stadium). The project will also directly serve the USAir Arena, a former major sports complex planned for entertainment and retail uses. MTA will manage the project through preliminary engineering, with WMATA undertaking final design and construction. The project is anticipated to open for service by September 2004, at a cost of $433.9 million (in escalated dollars). Average weekday boardings are estimated to be 28,500 in 2020 with 16,400 daily new riders.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:

Heavy Rail Extension

3.1 miles, 2 stations

Total Capital Cost ($YOE):

$ 433.9 million

Section 5309 Share ($YOE):

$ 260.3 million

Annual Operating Cost ($YOE):

$ 11.5 million

Ridership Forecast (2020):

28,500 average weekday boardings

16,400 daily new riders

FY 2001 Financial Rating:


FY 2001 Project Justification Rating:


FY 2001 Overall Project Rating:


The Recommended rating is based on the adequacy of the project’s justification criteria and capital and operating finance plans. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As new starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.


The proposed Largo Extension was approved by the WMATA Board as an addition to the 103-mile Metrorail Adopted Regional System in February 1997, applying WMATA Compact funding arrangements, contingent upon requisite FTA approvals. The project is included in the National Capital Region’s Constrained Long Range Plan.

Preliminary engineering was initiated in February 1996. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was completed and approved by FTA in October 1996. The Draft Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was completed in September 1999; a Record of Decision (ROD) is expected by early 2000. WMATA will assume managing responsibility for the project upon submission of a request to FTA for final design approval, following the ROD.

TEA-21 Section 3030(a)(93) authorizes the "Washington, DC – Largo Extension" for final design and construction. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $5.65 million for this project in Section 5309 New Starts funds.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA’s Technical Guidance on Section 5309 New Starts Criteria for the 3.1 mile extension. N/A indicates that data are not available for a specific measure.

FTA has evaluated this project as being in preliminary engineering. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance to final design and for next year’s Annual Report on New Starts.


The Medium project justification rating reflects the adequacy of the project’s cost effectiveness and other benefits.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

MTA and WMATA estimate that the Largo Metrorail Extension will serve 28,500 average weekday boardings and attract 16,400 daily new riders by 2020, and would result in the following annual travel time savings.


Mobility Improvements

New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours)

1.7 million

1.1 million

Based on 1990 Census data, there are an estimated 46 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed 2 new stations, approximately 5 percent of total households within ½ mile radius of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: High

The Washington, DC Metropolitan area is a serious non-attainment area for ozone, and a moderate non-attainment area for carbon monoxide. MTA estimates that in 2020, the Largo Metrorail Extension would result in the following annual emissions reductions.


Criteria Pollutant

New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

Carbon Monoxide (CO)



Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)



Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)



Particulate Matter (PM10)



Carbon Dioxide (CO2)



Values reflect annual tons of emissions reductions. Values in brackets [ ] indicate an increase in emissions.

MTA estimates that in 2020, the Largo Metrorail Extension would result in the following savings in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units – BTU).


Annual Energy Savings

New Start vs.


New Start vs. TSM

BTU (million)



Values reflect annual BTU reductions

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

MTA estimates the following systemwide operating cost per passenger mile in the year 2020 for the Largo Metrorail Extension, No-Build, and TSM alternatives.




New Start

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2020)




Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Medium

MTA estimates the following cost effectiveness indices for the new starts to no-build and TSM comparisons.



New Start vs.


New Start vs.


Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger



Values reflect 2020 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High land use rating reflects the extension’s connection to the Washington metropolitan area CBD and local efforts to foster transit-oriented development around proposed station areas.

Existing Conditions: The proposed Largo Metrorail Extension serves the suburban towns of Landover and Largo-Lottsford, Maryland, and traverses medium-density single-family suburban residential development interspersed with multi-family housing, office parks, civic uses, a major professional sports facility, a major entertainment facility, recreational parks, and undeveloped land. Much of the land directly adjacent to the two station areas is not yet developed or is in the process of being developed according to established plans, which call for mixed uses, higher intensities, and pedestrian design in station areas. Redevelopment of the Capital Centre is also underway. Some pedestrian improvements are being undertaken with State funding.

Future Plans and Policies: High population growth is forecast for the Washington, DC metropolitan area (44 percent between 1995 and 2020) and for the study area. The Maryland Smart Growth Initiative contains a set of policies and tools to manage and direct growth. The Prince George’s County General Plan encourages concentration of land use around station areas, and area plans are consistent with this policy. The county has recently completed a study that recommends actions to strengthen growth management activities. Local plans call for mixed-use, transit-oriented development to occur at moderate densities, albeit higher than in the surrounding area. Largo Town Center, in particular, is being developed in accordance with plans as a mixed-use activity center oriented around the proposed Metrorail Station. County-wide processes are in place to allow for consideration of increased densities in the future, although these have not yet been activated. Prince George’s County has committed to doing small area plans for both station areas in FY 2001. Existing zoning permits moderate-density mixed-use commercial and residential development in station areas. Density bonuses and reductions in parking requirements are available for provision of pedestrian facilities and/or structured parking in station areas. WMATA and MTA are conducting joint activities to pursue transit-supportive station area development. WMATA continues to actively pursue joint development opportunities under a formalized program that has been utilized in many other Metrorail station areas. The state and county have a number of economic development programs that could be used to provide incentives for development in the corridor and in station areas. Local developers

have incorporated the transit facility in their planning and design. However, office development proposals are contingent on construction of the project. The adopted 1999 Maryland Transportation Plan contains policies that support transit-oriented development, joint development and mixed use. In this plan, MDOT has stated goals of (1) providing transit and pedestrian facilities…; (2) fostering pedestrian-friendly design in station areas; (3) working closely with local officials to address the pattern and density of land use; and (4) supporting development in established communities and compact mixed-use areas. County and transit agency policies allow for the development of Transit District Overlay Zones for use in increasing densities.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 New Starts Share of Total Project Costs: 40%

The MTA financial plan proposes to use $260.3 million (60 percent of total project costs) in Section 5309 New Starts funds, $3.2 million (1 percent) of CMAQ funds, and $170.4 million (39 percent) of State funds.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High capital finance plan rating reflects the strong financial condition of the Maryland Department of Transportation, parent agency of the Mass Transit Administration, and the State’s demonstrated financial commitment to the project.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: All capital transportation investments in the State of Maryland are locally financed entirely through the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund (MTTF) administered by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). As of June 30, 1999, MDOT had outstanding bond debt totaling $749 million; its overall debt limit equals $1.2 billion. The debt is rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investor Services, AA by Standard and Poor’s Corporation, and AA by Fitch IBCA, Inc., which are among the highest ratings awarded to transportation agencies.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Capital costs have increased in PE by $36.8 million, or 9 percent, over the FY 2000 estimate due to public input calling for the alignment of a segment of the extension to be underground as opposed to at-grade. WMATA has developed financial scenarios for a prolonged outlay of Federal funding (both new starts and non-new starts) for the project, including borrowing costs, cost overruns and potential proposed funding unavailability.

Existing and Committed Funding: The financial plan reflects an increase in the State’s share of project financing from 20 percent in FY 2000 to the current 40 percent. The local share has been committed in the State’s Consolidated Transportation Program. The one percent in CMAQ funds has been programmed in both the Maryland and National Capital Region TIPs.

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed for the project.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium operating finance plan rating reflects the reliability of Maryland support of WMATA operating subsidies, and the uncertainty of the actual required contribution to be determined by negotiation of the WMATA Compact for funding Metrorail operations.

Agency Operating Financial Condition: All activities of MDOT/MTA are supported by the MTTF, including debt service, maintenance, operations and administration. Revenues allocated to the MTTF exceed $2 billion annually. MDOT has existing bonding capacity and is able to balance anticipated expenditures with projected revenues, despite the fact that the MTTF does not depend on inflation-sensitive revenue sources. WMATA will operate the new Largo Metrorail Extension, with application of the WMATA Compact funding arrangements to the project. Individual Compact contributions are subject to negotiation; however, the participating jurisdictions are considered capable and reliable of providing the required funding.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Average annual operating costs are expected to increase and are estimated in forecast-year dollars at $11.54 million for the Largo Metrorail Extension. A detailed account of O&M costs for the project has not been provided. Therefore, the reasonableness of the estimate cannot be determined.

Existing and Committed Funding: The MTTF will provide the State operating subsidy for the Largo Metrorail Extension. Farebox revenues are proposed to meet $7.9 million (68 percent) of increased operating costs, with 8 counties/cities under the WMATA Compact contributing the remaining $3.65 million (32 percent). The required increase in operating subsidy from the WMATA Compact jurisdictions constitutes a one percent increase over the current subsidy. The State of Maryland has continued to commit to providing the WMATA operating subsidy through the MTTF.

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed for the project.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)


Proposed Source of Funds

Total Funding ($million)


Appropriations to Date



Section5309 New Starts


($5.65 million appropriated through FY 2000)













NOTE: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

Largo Metrorail Extension (map)