New Push For Metro Station in Alexandria

Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. says a Potomac Yard station
Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. says a Potomac Yard station "will be a great addition." (Nikki Kahn - The Washington Post)
By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 6, 2008

Alexandria officials are moving closer to adding a Metrorail station on the Blue and Yellow lines near the Potomac Yard development. It would be the first station built in the region since 2004.

The station would be on the east side of the $2.6 billion Potomac Yard development, between the Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport stations.

Earlier this week, the city Planning Commission approved higher-density projects at a town center near the proposed Metro station. The approval, along with an analysis that showed future tax revenue could help finance the $150 million station, has made the station more likely.

The analysis showed that the development of Potomac Yard is to include a hotel along with office, retail and residential space. The project, valued at $2.6 billion, could generate $27 million in annual tax revenue.

If the city borrowed $150 million to build the Metro stop, the city's annual payment on the debt would be about $9 million for 30 years, said Mark Jinks, Alexandria's deputy city manager. Tax revenue from Potomac Yard would be more than enough to cover the payments, he said.

A higher-density development would also mean "a larger and more vibrant town center" that would attract more people, he said. "Enough people to justify building the station."

Although city officials caution that it will be several more years before they know whether they can finance a new subway stop, recent developments are encouraging.

"This is the most movement on a possible Metro station in at least a decade," Jinks said.

At a public meeting in Alexandria last week, Metro and city officials talked about the physical and financial feasibilities of building a new station between two existing ones.

"We think this will be a great addition to the system," Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. said yesterday at a regional transportation forum.

Catoe said Metro talked about "lessons learned" from building the New York Avenue station on the Red Line. "We pointed out that a new station at Potomac Yard is not likely to cost as much in today's dollars as the New York Avenue station," he said. At Potomac Yard, the area of track was originally constructed in a way to allow for a future station.

The New York Avenue station cost $104 million, using a combination of federal, city and private funds. The station took four years to complete and opened in November 2004.

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