The new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station continues to move forward, with recent developments regarding the station’s three entrances.
The station was originally designed to have two entrances on the west side of the tracks (one to the north end of the platform and one to the south end), and another entrance on the east side of the tracks. When initial construction bids far exceeded the project’s budget, the only practical way to keep the $320 million station financially viable was to remove the south entrance along Potomac Avenue.
The Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) has held a series of community meetings on the preferred design for access to the north entrance from the south. After receiving public input, the consensus among PYMIG members was to build a ramp from Potomac Avenue and E. Glebe Road directly to the north pedestrian bridge. This and other amendments to the original station design will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on December 6 and by City Council on December 15, in order for City Council to approve an updated development special use permit for the station. A public hearing will be held in conjunction with each of these meetings; see alexandriava.gov/Calendar for meeting details.
Amazon Decision Adds State Funding
On November 13, the state announced $50 million of funding for a new south entrance for the station, based on the projected increase in ridership associated with the recently announced plans for a new Amazon corporate headquarters and Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in National Landing. Funding was approved for inclusion in the final state partnership package presented to Amazon in late October 2018, and would not have been available without the increased ridership projected to accompany Amazon’s move to the area and the $1 billion Innovation Campus.
The funds must be formally approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and the City is working with all project partners to integrate this new funding stream into the project. Construction of the currently planned and approved station is planned to continue uninterrupted, with a scheduled opening date in early 2022. The release of the funding for a south entrance is tied to Amazon job creation targets, although the state has committed to support development of transportation projects on an accelerated basis. As a result, the City will work with Metro and the state to explore the feasibility and cost of including a south entrance in the initial station construction and whether the scale of the entrance will be the same as contemplated in the original station design.
Construction of north and south entrances will not increase proposed impacts to wetlands. In October 2017, the City submitted a Joint Permit Application to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill and excavate the portions of wetlands necessary to build the station platform, east entrance and related structures. After holding public comment periods, the agencies requested additional information, which the City is now working to provide in a revised permit application. The construction contractor is also preparing a plan for the restoration of temporarily impacted wetlands, which will be submitted to the agencies for review and comment along with the permit application.
New Metro Promises Many Benefits
The new Potomac Yard Metro Station, to be built on Metrorail’s Yellow and Blue Lines between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, will provide an extensive range of benefits for Alexandria and the surrounding community, including walkable access to regional transportation systems for neighborhoods in the northeast area of the city. The station is also expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investment over the long term and eventually support 26,000 new jobs and 13,000 new residents. The Potomac Yard area represents the most significant redevelopment and tax base growth opportunity for Alexandria, with the potential to achieve the vision for an urban mix of uses near transit.
The $320 million station will be funded through a variety of sources – including new tax revenue gained primarily from development in Potomac Yard over the next 40 years, regional transportation authority grants, and developer contributions.
City Council Says Yes to Scooters
On Tuesday, November 13, 2018, Alexandria’s City Council approved a nine-month pilot program allowing scooter companies to operate in the city.
Electric scooters are popping up on urban streets all over America, and like it or not, it looks like they are adapting to local scenes. DC already allows them, and Arlington just said yes to a pilot program too.
Despite concerns about Old Town’s narrow sidewalks and streets, the prevailing thoughts were that it could reduce car traffic and that the scooters are inevitable – better to embrace and manage early than play catch up later is part of the thinking.