Housing Complex

The Brown Line, the Beltway Line, and Other Metro Ideas That Didn’t Make the Cut

Last month, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority published its proposed Metro 2040 update, with a new loop encircling downtown D.C. It's a plan that's sparked both excitement and criticism, with one very angry former WMATA board chairman writing recently in the Washington Post that it's "so far beyond dream as to enter the realm of fantasy."

But many other ideas—equally controversial, no doubt—got left on the cutting-room floor. Here, courtesy of Metro planning blog PlanItMetro, are a few proposals that WMATA tested before ultimately opting not to include. The proposals, according to PlanItMetro, were graded according to "ridership, impact on core capacity, transfers, reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), mode share, etc." These ones didn't make the cut.

The Brown Line

The name alone is enough to generate controversy in a demographically divided and changing city. But the line itself would surely have many fans. It would have run down Wisconsin Avenue NW, through Georgetown, along Constitution Avenue, through NoMa and Bloomingdale, and up Georgia Avenue to Silver Spring before veering east into the Maryland suburbs.

brown line

The Beltway Line

This one's pretty self-explanatory. The Beltway Line would have largely paralleled I-495, intersecting the current Metro system at Greenbelt, Wheaton, White Flint, Dunn Loring, Van Dorn Street, Branch Avenue, and Largo Town Center. WMATA found that the line wouldn't have enough demand, except for maybe on the segments crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and American Legion Bridge.


Green Line to BWI or National Harbor, and Other Extensions

WMATA considered 11 extensions of existing lines farther into the suburbs:

1. Green Line to BWI
2. Orange Line to Bowie
3. Green Line to Charles County
4. Blue Line to Potomac Mills
5. Orange Line to Centreville
6. Red Line to Metropolitan Grove
7. Blue Line to Bowie
8. Green Line to National Harbor
9. Yellow Line to Lorton
10. Orange Line to Gainesville
11. Silver Line to Leesburg



Infill Stations at St. Elizabeths and Elsewhere

The easiest kind of Metro station to build is one that's on an existing line. WMATA considered stations at St. Elizabeths (where the Coast Guard recently relocated and a major mixed-use development is planned), Oklahoma Avenue NE (not a major population center, but there's a substantial gap between the Stadium-Armory and Minnesota/Benning stations), Montgomery College, and Eisenhower Avenue Valley. Yellow stations in the map below are the ones that were considered; blue and orange stations are already completed and planned, respectively.


New Connections Between Lines

Without building any new lines, WMATA can shorten riders' trips by connecting lines to make for fewer transfers. WMATA considered options that would have allowed people to travel from, say, Dulles to Branch Avenue without changing trains.


Images via PlanItMetro


  1. Deniee Harrington

    There is definitely extensions needed for the Charles County residents. The rush hour to work and back home is exhausing because of the long ride on MTA Commuter Buses and there is no weekly time for family. There are always new lines opening up in the expensive sections of Virginia, what about us, we don't see any relief any time soon.

  2. #2

    Metro should reconsider the beltway line - ASAP

  3. #3

    Just call them the "DC government lines": Orange, Gray and Brown.

  4. #4

    Thanks for posting. When the metro opened the prevailing opinion was that it was a boondoggle nobody would use. Today, it's often overcapacity. It took a huge amount of tax dollars to build and maintain. Any expansion will require another commitment of tax dollars. I'm in but are others?

  5. #5

    The Brown Line would be amazing.

  6. #6

    Build the Brown Line now!

  7. #7

    I'm shocked (well..not really) that a condition of the St. Elizabeth's development didnt include an infill station.

  8. #8

    At some point, Southern Marylanders' need to ask themselves why Southern Maryland is left out of future design plans. I agree with one of the Posts here that is seems as if Virginia is calling the shots regarding future development. The "Brown Line" makes perfect sense. And, newsflash, ridership would likely increase dramatically if Metro expanded into Southern Maryland. As it stands, residents are forced to use their automobiles or pay high fees to privately chartered bus lines. Is it too much to ask to be given serious consideration for rapid transit. Look at National Harbor. A Metro spokesperson stated: there was not enough rider demand along the 210 corridor to justify expansion. Yet, there is plenty of rider demand to support metro going all the way through Tyson's Corner to Dulles airport? Right now, residents of Fort Washington are left with limited ingress and egress to National Harbor, ridiculous rush hour traffic along Route 210, and stuck trying to get on to 210 from tons of homes located in cul-de-sacs. Who is representing Southern Maryland during these "planning" meetings?

  9. #9

    "I agree with one of the Posts here that is seems as if Virginia is calling the shots regarding future development. "

    Each jurisdiction plans and funds (with federal help) its own extensions. Southern Md extensions do not compete with NoVa extensions. They DO compete with other Md projects (for state money) - currently Md is prioritizing the Red Line in Baltimore, and the Purple Line.

  10. #10

    Infill stations make sense and usually wouldn't be too involved, but for some reason a large chunk of the eastern Red Line is between the freight tracks; the metro tracks are to the right of the freight tracks at RI Ave then there's a tunnel to put them in the middle, and then past SS another tunnel where the metro tracks branch off to the right. Never made much sense to me... Anyway in order to make an infill station at Kansas/N.Hampshire or at Montgomery CC they would have to move one or both freight tracks so there's space for a platform.

  11. #11

    A Montgomery College Stop would be great...
    There is nothing in the current location except a patch of grass & train tracks... whats the hold up ??
    Get'er Done !
    Parking is next to impossible at MC & a 25 mintue walk from the Rockville stop is well annoying, especially in this winter polar vortex!

  12. #12

    They need to serve DC better first. There are huge swaths of NE with no access to decent public transportation, and yet DC continues to make it harder to drive, especially to jobs downtown. Metro equality is a big issue, and DC should work harder to get everyone decent access, not just rich folks in NW, before they worry about connecting gainesville, VA.

  13. #13

    markus, heard of this thing called "the bus?" It will take you all over the city and to any of the metro stations. It is considered public transportation.

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    [...] In proposing an expansion of Metro for 2040, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority considered and rejected several ideas that would have served District commuters, like a Brown Line with stations in Bloomingdale and [...]

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