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Officials to Discuss Three Potomac Yard Metro Station Alternatives

A public meeting is scheduled for April 19 at Cora Kelly Recreation Center.

The City of Alexandria and the Federal Transit Administration will hold a meeting on April 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at to discuss the status of the Environmental Impact Study process for a proposed Potomac Yard Metrorail station serving the blue and yellow lines.

The FTA and the city, in cooperation with the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority and the National Park Service, have narrowed the station plan to three alternatives all located just east of the at Potomac Yard Shopping Center.

Thirty-six options were analyzed and whittled down to three zones. Officials then determined the best station design and configuration for each zone with an eye on minimizing adverse impacts.

“Alternative A” is an at-grade station on existing track located between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX train tracks just west of the Potomac Greens neighborhood. This location was reserved for a Metro station several years ago.

Construction access for Alternative A would be completely on the east side of the tracks. No new track would be needed for this option. Crews would use Potomac Greens Avenue to access the site.

“Alternative B” is also an at-grade station located between the parkway and CSX but on a new track alignment and north of Potomac Greens. This alternative would have considerable impact to surrounding wetlands, which are slated to be revived after construction.

Alternative B includes approximately 2,000 feet of new track. Construction access would occur along Potomac Greens Avenue as well as the GW Parkway. A section of the right, southbound lane on the GW Parkway would close during off-peak hours for construction vehicles to accelerate and decelerate.  

“Alternative D” is an aerial station located between the CSX tracks and Potomac Avenue, almost directly behind the Target. It would include approximately 6,000 feet of new track and the construction of a new bridge over Four Mile Run and two other Metrorail bridges. “Alternative D” includes the largest area impacted by construction.  

With plan D, new tracks through Potomac Yard would be aerial and would impact the redevelopment of sections of North Potomac Yard (where the shopping center is currently located), project officials said at a Planning Commission hearing in February.

New track is needed in several of the alternatives to create enough linear track for trains to move safely into nearby tunnels.

Project officials compared the at-grade station alternatives to the Morgan Boulevard Station in Prince George’s County, Md., near FedEx Field. The aerial station would be similar to the station planned for Tysons Corner.

Cost estimates for the three alternatives will be completed in the fall. With differences in the amount of new track and other considerations, the cost of each alternative will vary.

Officials are also analyzing a no-build option.

“When we approved the [Potomac Yard] plan, certainly we recognized that the Metro station might not come to fruition, whether it’s because the [Environmental Impact Study] or the financing,” Planning Commissioner Eric Wagner said in February. “It’s not an open-ended commitment by the city just financing something regardless of cost.”

As part of its 10-year Capital Improvement Program, the city is expecting to spend approximately $265 million on the Potomac Yard Metro station.

Project officials hope to conclude the EIS in 2013 and begin building the station in 2014 with the intent to open the station in late 2016.

Nate McKenzie April 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Bonds at 1.98% seem like a good deal for us as taxpayers for an infrastructure project. Not sure what their projected interest rate was though for the $497M overall projection in 2010.
Boyd Walker April 12, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Clearly, the Metro Station should have been paid for and required at the start of the Potomac Yard Development. That was almost 20 years ago. But then everytime there was an addtional approval or request, money should have been put into a fund for the Metro. Now we are stuck with a more expensive station which will likely have cost overuns. For the same amount of money that the Metro Station costs we could build a complete Streetcar system around the city. It is something to think about.
Rob Krupicka April 13, 2012 at 12:07 AM
The Metro is paid for. All costs associated with the Metro come from the developer and the revenues created by development near the Metro. Tax Increment Financing, where you use the value created to pay for the infrastructure, is used all over the region and country. The entire project is self-funded by the development that is around it. And no, you could not build a complete streetcar system around the city for the same cost. First, the cost would be multiples more, and second, you'd need a revenue source to pay for the project. In the case of the metro, the development covers all the cost. What would be your revenue source to pay for the street car, Boyd. There are no free lunches here. You can't just call for new infrastructure and not have a way to pay for it. And to the last point, the developer is restricted in how much can be built before the Metro is in place. They can't do their full development without a Metro in place. The two issues are completely linked in the zoning on purpose. And the developer is putting money into a fund to pay for metro costs before they develop. I appreciate some folks would prefer not to have the Metro, but the funding for it is not fungible to move to other projects. If you don't have the metro, you don't have the development and you then don't have the funding to move to something else. Instead you'd have a bunch of town-homes and a lot of cars and very little public infrastructure.
JamesOnThePotomac April 13, 2012 at 02:26 AM
As Mr Krupica said."They [the developers]can't do their full development without a Metro in place" And maybe that's not such a bad thing Mr Krupica. For far too long the COA City Council has had this overwhelming desire to increase density for the city at all costs in an attempt to increase the tax base and lower the real estate tax rate. So far, from what I have seen, that approach has not worked and it appears that the tax payers are the ones picking up the tab for lunch. The fall elections can't come soon enough as far as I am concerned.
Phillip Cide April 13, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Two of the past potential Potomac Yard projects that would have paid for the Metro were the Red Skins Stadium, and the Patent and Trade Office.

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