Again, let’s ditch Reagan National and put the National Zoo there

designNow, we’re hearing about how some people still aren’t happy with renaming our national airport after the president who fired the air traffic controllers, even 17 years later.

The name is contentious, to say the least. It was contentious at the time, some might say intentionally so, less to honor the Gipper than to slap around a left-leaning city that certain right-leaning elected interlopers had little respect for. And, let’s be honest, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is too long to sound anything but silly, which might be why people opt for just Reagan or National or DCA. If you’ve ever used the DC Metro, you’ve heard the train drivers slur the unwieldy string of names into one long word. RonaRegaRoshiNasha.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt has fewer syllables than the airport’s full title. It’s goofy. That’s no way to honor a former president.

Moreover, as I’ve pointed out before, since 9/11 having an airport so close to the Capitol, White House, and Pentagon is just a ridiculous security risk, not to mention how the constant buzz of aircraft in and out assaults the patriotic solemnity of the memorials on the National Mall.

DCA-IAD-BWISo, let’s ditch DCA and name something else after Reagan, if we have to, to compensate Republicans for the loss. (Although, they already have a gigantic building right downtown.)

Let’s dismantle DCA and expand Baltimore-Washington (BWI) and Washington Dulles (IAD) to compensate. IAD is already getting improved public transportation access with the Metro’s Silver Line and the MARC train that accesses BWI was recently expanded with weekend service.

And, lest you think such a split would be unreasonable, consider that not only does DCA have somewhat fewer travelers per year (at ~18M) than either BWI (~22M) or IAD (~23M), but its freight per year (~13M lbs) is microscopic compared to BWI (~200M lbs) and IAD (~600M). All told, the split wouldn’t be as difficult as a walk along the DCA concourse might suggest.

Alternatively, we could simply move DCA’s traveler-centric operations to a new passenger airport far from DC’s sensitive sites, in the relatively undeveloped Potomac peninsula, creating a neat triangle around the Capital with IAD and BWI. There’s a plateau just southeast of Brandywine where a DCA-sized airport would fit nicely, and plenty of space to put an express light rail line into the city. In fact, my plan for optimizing the DC metro includes a Brandywine stop that could be repurposed for a Washington Potomac National Airport.

NationalZoo-LogoAnd, once the RoReRoshNash Airport site is vacated and cleared, we could move the National Zoo from its cramped and hilly corner of the District to an expansive and central location on the Potomac.


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