Potomac Yard Metro Balloon Testing to Begin Soon

City continues to plug away on Environmental Impact Study process for three potential station locations.

As part of the analyses of three potential sites for a Potomac Yard Metro station, balloon tests will occur over the next several weeks in order to document the visual impacts of the station designs.

Tests will occur during a three-week period beginning Monday, with a final test date proposed for Dec. 7. Specific weather conditions are needed to conduct the tests, which will be used to collect photos and video of each of the proposed station locations and to make visual renderings.

Balloons will be visible from the George Washington Memorial Parkway for as much as 90 minutes while the tests are being performed.

The city reminds drivers that stopping along the parkway is prohibited.

The total cost of the testing will not be known until after the tests are completed, city officials told Patch. The city is paying for the tests from funds reserved for planning the station.

This past Tuesday, Alexandria City Council received an update on the status of the Metro station planning and development in Potomac Yard.

Staff continues to plug away at the mandated Environmental Impact Study of the three potential station locations. The draft EIS should be completed in the second quarter of 2013. The city will then hold a series of community meetings and public hearings about the draft EIS. The selection of a locally preferred alternative is expected by September 2013. The final EIS is expected by the second quarter of 2014, with a Record of Decision expected by June 2014.

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.

Cost estimates will be refined in January. Projections are currently between $119 million and $538 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.

City officials said Tuesday that the high-estimate $538 million cost of the aerial station could push it out of consideration.

“That number is a big challenge and might not be doable,” Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks said of the aerial station.

Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, who did not seek re-election this fall, said Tuesday he hopes to remain on the city’s Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group after his term ends at the turn of the year.

Katy Cannady November 18, 2012 at 06:27 PM
An important issue with the location of this Metro station, is, that contrary to what most of us believed earlier, the owners of the Potomac Yard shopping center where it will be located, will make a significant monetary contribution to the Metro station only if it is located at an option B site, running more or less parallel to the George Washington Parkway. Although this was never stated publically at the public hearings on rezoning the shopping center land for as much as seven million square feet of development, subsequent to those hearings, the outgoing Council entered into a memorandum of agreement with the owners that states plainly the owners will be expected to contribute only to their preferred alternative and not to any other alternative. The other alternative (option A) that might be a serious contender is closer to Route 1.
Lee Hernly November 19, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Politicians like Kerry Donley, Tim Lovain, Justin Wilson, et al, who support rail transit hope other people will ride it, leaving less congested roads for everyone else. However, as history has shown, that is not the case. Transit advocates brag that transit produces less carbon monoxide than autos. But carbon monoxide is no longer a serious environmental threat. Today's problems are greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides and particulates. Local diesel-powered transit buses, and Metrorail cars, whose electric power comes from burning coal, produce far more of these pollutants than today's automobiles. Alexandrians should remember this before giving our politicians the go ahead to spend more of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on a system that doesn't benefit commuters.
Nate McKenzie November 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Does anyone who attended the meeting know what the criteria was for the debt ratio changes or was it already part of the recent bond agency rating confirmation (July 2012)? Also - I appreciate the city highlighting the MOUs. Without trying to judge the merits of one part of a complex negotiation, contingencies associated with the financial contributions are very important details for the decision makers and public to understand.
matt tallmerq November 19, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I cannot remember what they were, or whether they have changed since I left BFAAC in 2010. But the debt ratios are listed in the budget, as well as the BFAAC report on budget. You can find both on the OMB web site.
Jon Rosenbaum November 21, 2012 at 04:11 PM
You conveniently ignore tha fact that the developer gets less density if they do not help pay for the station. For them, no doubt, a station too far from their site would make the current approved density uneconomical and thus they do not feel they would get wsufficient economic benefit by contributing to the station. I find the arguments about destroying the view from the Parkway without logic. The thin line of parkland does not hide Patomac Greens and the current shopping center. The new buildings also will be visible from the Parkway. Chrystal City and the airport are visible from the parkway


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