Zebra Misc

Alexandria City Council Approves Additional Steps to Keep New Potomac Yard Metrorail Station on Schedule

Hopes High for an Early 2022 Opening

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria City Council has taken several recent actions to continue progress toward the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station and keep the project on schedule.

On December 15, City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the station’s development special use permit, based on recommendations by the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) and the Planning Commission after extensive public input. Based on a significant project budget gap previously identified, the amendment included removal of the station’s south mezzanine and the associated ramp from Potomac Greens; removal of the southern pedestrian bridge across the rail corridor; and removal of the southern entry pavilion and ramp off Potomac Avenue. The amendment included the addition of a ramp from E. Glebe Road to the remaining pedestrian bridge, to provide improved access from south Potomac Yard.

The state recently announced $50 million of new funding for additional access to the station from the south, 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. The City is actively working with Metro and the state to establish a firm timeline for how the new funding could be integrated into the current construction project once approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. PYMIG will meet on January 14 and as needed to help staff develop a recommendation regarding the scope of this additional access and how best to integrate the change into the project.  Any changes to the station’s design will be subject to public hearings and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council.

On December 11, City Council unanimously approved an amendment requested by the National Park Service (NPS) to its 2016 agreement with the City regarding mitigation of wetlands under NPS jurisdiction. The agreement specifies that the City will pay up to $1 million per acre, for up to 4.37 acres of wetlands permanently impacted by construction of the station. NPS initially determined that the funds would be used for wetlands mitigation at Dyke Marsh, but has since encountered delays in that project. The amendment approved by City Council will allow the NPS to use the funds for other sites in the region that meet its criteria for wetlands mitigation and can make use of the funds more quickly.

During the December 15 meeting, City Council also unanimously approved elimination of the planned special tax district on residential properties located in the southern end of Potomac Yard. The funding plan for the station initially included two special tax districts. The “Tier I” district, which includes commercial properties in the north and central areas of Potomac Yard, took effect in 2011. The “Tier II” district was to include the residential properties in the southern end of Potomac Yard, and was scheduled to take effect after the new station opened. The City Manager recommended elimination of the Tier II district based on the economic and tax revenue impacts of the recently announced plans for National Landing. The projections show equivalent increased revenue from the base and Tier I taxes due to anticipated increases in property values, without the need for a Tier II tax.

The new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station, to be built on the 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. The station is expected to open to the public in early 2022.

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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