The Alexandria City Council is taking steps to change the name of King Street Metro station to “King Street-Old Town” with hopes the new moniker will ease navigation and increase revenue in the city.
During its Tuesday meeting, the Council authorized Acting City Manager Bruce Johnson to submit the required paperwork to fund the renaming.
The name change will cost between $90,000 and $120,000, mainly to replace signage and create new maps. The funding will not come from the city’s general fund. Instead, it will come from the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission allocation the city receives annually to pay for a portion of its Metro needs.
Mayor Bill Euille introduced the matter during oral reports Tuesday, saying that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had granted the city a few extra days to come to a decision on the matter.
Logistical matters prevented Council from getting the issue on a meeting docket before summer recess, so the name change will not receive a public hearing.
Council members said they believed connecting the station name to an area of commerce would bring more visitors into the city.
Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said Alexandria is currently one of just a few jurisdictions that ties station names to roadways instead of geographic identities.
“I can understand if you’re a tourist and you get on the Metro and you want to get to Old Town, you don’t know where to go,” Donley said.
Councilman Paul Smedberg said the issue has come up in his meetings with the city’s Economic Sustainability Work Group as something that would drive people to Alexandria’s economic center.
“I think this would really define a Metro stop that would really help us as a city,” Smedberg said.
The measure passed 6-1, with Councilwoman Alicia Hughes casting the lone dissenting vote. Hughes said she believed the money could be used to fund other transportation projects.
The Council could potentially discuss renaming the three other Metro stations in the city at a later date in a much more public manner.
Donley mentioned potentially renaming the Braddock Road Metro station “Braddock Road-Del Ray.” Councilwoman Del Pepper said she would like to see Van Dorn Street Metro station changed to “Van Dorn Street-Landmark.”
Euille said it could be two to five years and possibly more before WMATA considers changing station names again.
In July, WMATA said Metro riders expressed a preference for short, distinctive station names.