Elected officials serving on Alexandria’s Potomac Yard Metro Implementation Work Group continued to express their commitment to building a Metro station at Potomac Yard during a meeting last week at City Hall.
The group received an update on the progress of an ongoing Environmental Impact Study (EIS) required to build a station.
The city will determine a locally preferred alternative between three station designs and locations later this year. A no-build option remains in play, but officials underscored the importance of a station in developing Potomac Yard and the city’s economy.
“If we don’t make it happen here, [the development] is going to go elsewhere [in the region,]” said Mayor Bill Euille, who sits on the group with Councilman Justin Wilson and former vice mayor Kerry Donley, who has moved into an at-large role with the group. “And folks talking about our economic viability and our survivability as a community moving forward, how we diverse our tax base and generate revenues and all of the above, we can kiss all of that goodbye [if the city doesn’t build a station].”
The group will go over financial plans for each of the alternatives at its next meeting. Projected costs vary between the three station alternatives—two at-grade stations east of the CSX tracks and a third aerial station to the west of the tracks. Early projections are currently between $195 million and $462 million, with the aerial station carrying the higher price tag.
City officials said last year that the high cost of the aerial station—which could balloon to $538 million—would likely push it out of consideration.
Susan Gygi, Potomac Yard projects manager with the city, said the timetable for the project has been pushed back a bit, with a final design-build plan determined by the middle of 2014 and the opening of the station by mid 2017. Earlier projections had the station opening in mid 2016.
The group received results from the balloon testing for the three stations alternatives at the meeting, which provided renderings of what the stations would look like from the George Washington Memorial Parkway and other vantage points. Two of the alternatives will require construction access off of the parkway.
Construction work will result in temporary impacts on adjacent neighborhoods related to noise, vibration, water resources, parkland and air quality, planners said. Nearby wetlands and vegetation what could be impacted by construction are to be restored “in-kind or better,” according to the work group presentation.
Since the station would be built on live track, some construction will be performed at night when Metrorail service is not operational and would require temporary lighting. Single-tracking and service outages will also be necessary to build a station.
City staff plans on holding several public meetings in the months ahead to inform the public and collect input for the selection of a locally preferred alternative.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of this project to the City's future, and getting this project done in the right way is vital,” Wilson wrote in an email to constituents.
Councilwoman Del Pepper expressed her support for the project at a Jan. 14 meeting of the Del Ray Citizens Association.
“There is a will that we will do it one way or another," she said. "It’s a value not just to this city but the whole area."
For more information about Potomac Yard, check out Del Ray Patch's Potomac Yard topic page.