A rendering of a pedestrian tunnel between Alexandria Union Station (on the right) and the King Street Metro station (left). Image used with permission.

King Street station in Alexandria serves Metro, VRE, and Amtrak trains. But its layout is inefficient and hard to use. Virginia is providing money to build a new pedestrian tunnel that solves those problems.

There are two big problems at King Street station: First, Passengers can't walk directly between the Metro station and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE)/Amtrak station, even though they're right next to each other. Second, although there are three tracks for VRE/Amtrak trains, passengers can only reach two of them, which cuts the capacity of the station.

The current track and platform layout at King Street, with the Amtrak/VRE station on the right. The third track, which can't currently carry passenger trains, is on the left. Image by the author.

Building a new pedestrian tunnel that connects both stations and all the tracks will make it easier for passengers to transfer trains, and increase the capacity of the VRE/Amtrak station by making it possible for trains to pick up passengers using all three tracks.

The tunnel will also be a lot safer since passengers reaching the far-side VRE/Amtrak platform will no longer have a need to walk over active tracks.

In addition to the tunnel, VRE wants to extend and widen the platform that sits between the eastern two tracks, as well as remove the fence that currently blocks the third track from the station. 

The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) gave VRE $18 million to build the tunnel in June. That money will allow for design and, eventually, construction work. Design is typically an early part of the project, and comes before the detailed engineering work needed to work out all the small details that go into a construction project like this. So the tunnel’s opening is still a ways away.

Stephen Repetski is a Virginia native and has lived in the Fairfax area for over 20 years. He has a BS in Applied Networking and Systems Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology and works in Information Technology. Learning about, discussing, and analyzing transit (especially planes and trains) is a hobby he enjoys.