A plan to build a Metro station in Alexandria’s growing Potomac Yard community is moving along, but the projected opening has again been pushed back, this time to spring 2021.
Alexandria officials said the latest delay came when transit officials determined more time than anticipated would be needed to award a contract.
“The schedule is pushed back because we are considering cost-saving opportunities within the context of the procurement,” said Mitch Bernstein, director of the city’s Department of Project Implementation.
Bernstein declined to speculate when construction will begin, saying the final timetable and completion date won’t be known until a contract is awarded. But Metro, which is overseeing the procurement process and construction, said it plans to award the contract next spring.
The $268-million station will be built on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines, between the Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport stations.
It is expected to boost mass transit along the Route 1 corridor, breaking up a 3.1-mile stretch that is the longest inside the Capital Beltway without a Metro station.
The area is served by Metroway, a bus rapid-transit service that started in 2014 and connects the Pentagon City and Braddock Road Metro stations.
Officials project the new station will increase the share of trips made by transit, bike and foot in the area.
It also is touted as an investment that will facilitate growth at Potomac Yard, a 295-acre former railroad yard that is being transformed into an urban center. Plans include the addition of 7.5 million square feet of mixed-use development.
The project has been in Alexandria’s plans for more than two decades. The city secured $66 million in regional funding last summer and a few months later received federal clearance to proceed to construction.
This year, Alexandria was accepted into a federal government infrastructure loan program, from which city officials estimate the city will be able to borrow $88 million for the Metro station. The city will fund the project through a variety of sources, including new tax revenue from development around the station, regional transportation grants, and other local funds. Metro will oversee the construction, and own and operate the station.
Metro issued a request for proposals in November and is reviewing bids, a spokesman said. Originally, city officials expected Metro to award a contract this summer and construction to begin later this year.
Now the transit agency says it anticipates awarding the contract next spring, with construction to take about three years.
“This solicitation will be longer due to the complexities of the project,” Metro spokesman Richard L. Jordan said.
The process, which generally takes nine months, will take more than a year.
Bernstein said bidders submitted proposals that included opportunities for cost-saving and, as a result, the city and Metro are taking more time to evaluate those options.
The process is also more complex because it requires giving companies “sufficient time” to present a design and working with the companies to refine the scope of the project, Metro said.
The project’s timeline has been pushed back several times. Two years ago, Metro said it needed more time than anticipated to plan and build the station, pushing a 2018 opening to 2020.
Now, Metro’s timeline suggests the earliest the station could open is 2021.
The station is planned just east of the existing Potomac Yard Retail Center, on a site north of Potomac Greens, between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the CSX railroad tracks. The station will be built at ground level with a side-platform layout.
The track location is already used by Metro, so construction will have to be completed alongside active tracks.