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Citizens Express Concerns About Construction Impacts of Potomac Yard Metro Station

Project planners hear from citizens at community meeting following briefing on three station alternatives.

Alexandria citizens expressed concerns with the construction of a Potomac Yard Metrorail station that would impact nearby wetlands and the George Washington Memorial Parkway during a community meeting Thursday at .

Project planners with the city used the event to brief the crowd on for a station under evaluation as part of an environmental impact study for the project. 

A no-build alternative is also being evaluated. It includes improvements to existing transit options in the area.

Two of the three station alternatives—an at-grade station located between the parkway and CSX tracks on a new track alignment north of Potomac Greens and an aerial station located west of the CSX tracks almost directly behind Target—require significant construction access along the parkway.

In one alternative, a section of the right, southbound lane on the parkway would close during off-peak hours for construction vehicles to decelerate and access the construction site through wetlands.

“To cut into the parkway this way makes absolutely no sense,” said Old Town resident Andrew Macdonald, who is running for mayor as an independent. “I love Metro, but this is an ostensibly expensive project. I’d like to see the money spent on other options and in other ways along Route 1.”

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.

In 2010, city officials estimated the station would cost $240 million to build.

Other speakers at Thursday’s meeting said it was “appalling” and “ridiculous” to breach the parkway with construction vehicles. Currently, large trucks are not allowed on the parkway.

“Do we know the cost of damage to the parkway for rebuild and repair?” asked Bert Ely.

Abi Lerner, a deputy director with the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said no one involved in the project is advocating trucks using the parkway or destroying wetlands.

“We need to quantify and ask questions to get a thorough assessment on the best way to construct a station,” Lerner said.    

Susan Gygi, the city’s project manager, said any impacts on the wetlands would be restored “at a better rate” after construction.

Potomac Greens residents expressed concerns about an alternative that would put an at-grade station directly to the west of the neighborhood in a parcel of land that was reserved for a station in 1970 by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Construction cannot be done on live tracks, so much of the work would have to be done at night and would “keep people awake,” one speaker said. Another Potomac Greens resident said the aerial station alternative would put commuters at eye level with their bedroom windows.

Potomac Greens resident Rebecca Mosbruger urged planners to “move forward” on the project and said that two years of construction would be worth the nuisance, otherwise traffic in the area would only intensify.

City Council candidate Boyd Walker (D) said he had concerns about the cost of the project and asked that ridership and the cost of a streetcar system be compared to the Metro station project.

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

S April 22, 2012 at 11:27 PM
As usual metro is built for developers not the people who already live here.
Boyd Walker April 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Ok, I just read the Greater Greater Washington Blog. Why is there still no cost estimate to help us distinguish between the different alternatives if this as promised in February? I realize that there is additional labor cost if the track is built in line that might be offset by building it along a new alignment, where the track can be built when the track is still in operation, but looking at the three alterantives in the Potomac Yard MetroConnection passed out at the EIS meeting, Alternative B and Alternative D (the flyover to the West side of the track) have entrances at virtualy the same points in Potomac Yard, so if the flyover is considerably more expensive, I don't see the incentive. I think Alternative A that puts it is the best location for Potomac Greens, only slightly farther from the box stores, and actually closer to Del Ray. It is the most attractive option. It also aligns with the Potomac Ave, giving a vehicle drop off option, and does not disturb wetlands or create a temporary truck entrance on the GW Parkway. Presumably it would be the least expensive to build.
JamesOnThePotomac April 23, 2012 at 05:10 PM
$500,000,000.00 ($1/2 Billion Dollars) - That's the initial projected cost of the Potomac Yards MetroStation. As it stands now the developers will contribute about $17,000,000.00 (< than 15% of the total amount) and the rest will come via local Alexandria tax dollars (Whoopty-Doo). Currently, there are no or projected Federal or State Funds available for this "white elephant" of a project. The only thing we can be thankful for is that the city planners have assured the citizens of Alexandria that there is very little chance of any cost overruns. Maybe they will be right this time.
Joseph M. April 23, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Boyd Walker said: "Alternative B and Alternative D (the flyover to the West side of the track) have entrances at virtualy the same points in Potomac Yard, so if the flyover is considerably more expensive, I don't see the incentive." Quite simply, Alternative D is on the west side of the CSX track. As Nick Partee's article says: "Alternative D3 is the last remaining alternative which places the station on the west side of the CSX right-of-way. This is important, because options the Route 1 side of the CSX tracks move the Metro closer to more potential riders and will therefore increase potential ridership. Proposed development will surely increase the number of trips to and from the area, so capturing the most possible trips via transit is essential for traffic mitigation." If you want to avoid having stairs/elevators/escalators up and over the CSX tracks, Alternative D3 is the only remaining option. The other west side options were eliminated because they were technically unfeasible due to minimum slope and curve requirements for Metro tracks (can't descend or rise too steeply or curve too quickly). It's critically important to place the station as close as possible to the development in order to minimize the incentive to drive a car rather than ride Metro.
Whitney Dubinsky April 25, 2012 at 01:50 AM
For a nice, unbiased write up on the status of the PY metro. Check out the update in the Arlandrian. http://www.arlandria.org/2012/04/potomac-yard-metro-opponents-cite-gw.html

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