The hope of a Potomac Yard Metro station on the west side of the CSX tracks is still alive.
More importantly, during the City's scoping phase of the Environmental Impact Statement preparation, Alternative D3 was introduced and kept on the table. This is important, because options on the west side (the Route 1 side) of the CSX tracks move the Metro closer to more potential riders and will therefore increase potential ridership. If you've followed the PY Metro news closely, you'll recall that the 'D' series of alternatives, aerial station options that require the tracks to elevate, cross over to the west side of the the CSX tracks, then return to the east side to rejoin the existing tracks (Read more about PY Metro here and here and see the official site).
The aerial alternatives had all been deemed prohibitively expensive and/or technical not feasible. But during the scoping phase of the EIS, the new D3 alignment for an aerial station within the PY development footprint proved a contender. It is listed in the EIS Initial Screening of Alternatives as: "Consistent with purpose and need, consistent with land use and development plans, technically feasible, [and] financially feasible." In fact, all five remaining options meet these four criteria.
We've previously reported findings that show the 'D' (aerial station) and 'C' (underground station) series of alternatives significantly increase the number of people within the quarter-mile and half-mile walkshed since they move the station further into the eventual PY development area and closer to the medium density neighborhoods to the west. These neighborhoods include Arlandria, Del Ray, Lynhaven, etc.
Alternative 'A' would serve significantly fewer people without a longer walk. The new D3 option is close to options B1, B2 and B3, but if it is on the west side of the CSX tracks, it saves a lot of walking and one set of steps (you'd have to go up, over, and down to get to any alternative to the east of the CSX tracks). Options D1 and D2, which did not make the cut, were further north and so would have served the planned densest part of the yard even more conveniently, but did not prove technically feasible. Review the report for more information about feasibility.
The underground station alternatives proved to be extremely expensive, and based on the EIS scoping document, not technically feasible. The proximity to Four Mile Run and the CSX tracks appears to be to blame. With option D3 on the table, the PY Metro station could serve almost as many people as the underground and alternate aerial options for a much smaller cost.
Other new alternatives that were considered during the scoping session and found incompatible with stated goals were a VRE station, parking garages and additional stations developed in other parts of Alexandria. When a final alternative is chosen, it will be compared with the no-build scenario. At that point, the PY Metro Station Implementation Work Group will send the EIS forward to WMATA. The public has opportunities for input throughout. See the high level project schedule below (with a projected station opening in 2016).
This decision on which alternative to choose is far from made. One of the reasons the 'D' series of alternatives was rejected earlier was the developer didn't want to deal with building out the PY development while working around Metro construction. This is still a possible concern, though perhaps the new alignment was devised to mitigate this impact. It is also possible that option D3 is still more expensive than option 'A' and the various 'B' options. More information should be available tonight.
There is a public meeting Wednesday night to review the Initial Screening of Alternatives at 6:30 p.m. in the City Hall, Council Work Room, 301 King St. Please attend if possible and lend your support for option D3.