Alexandria took an important step Wednesday night in selecting a site for the proposed Potomac Yard Metro Station, which the city hopes to open in late 2018.
So, what happens now?
Narrowing down the options to one location was critical to move on to more focused study of the impacts construction will have on the environment, community and the city’s economic health.
Moving forward, Alexandria in partnership with Metro, the Federal Transit Administration and the National Park Service, will work to finalize the environmental impact statement, a federal requirement that will deliver a thorough examination of the project’s impact along with a mitigation plan. That report, followed by the federal government’s blessing on the project, are critical to moving forward to the design and construction phase.
“We have been working towards this for a very longtime,” said Sandra Marks, deputy transportation director for the city. “Being able to focus on one build alternative allows us to really move into the next phase of the project focusing on good quality design, minimizing the impacts, and making sure that we can build the best Metro station that will benefit the city, the residents and those that come to visit and work in Alexandria.”
These are some steps that will take place between now and construction of the station:
- The Metro board of directors is expected to vote on their preferred location this fall. The agency held a public hearing last month, and is working closely with Alexandria on the project. Metro would eventually manage the design and construction phase of the project, and of course, the agency will own and manage the station.
- Alexandria with continue to work with the National Park Service to finalize the details of an agreement settling the impact on the George Washington Parkway. During the site selection process, it was determined that the preferred site would put the station partly on NPS land and on a scenic easement. The city and NPS reached an agreement through which the federal agency would release the easement on approximately 1.71 acres of city property where the station would be located and the city would transfer 13.56 acres of local parkland near the parkway to the federal government. Alexandria would also invest $12 million in park improvements. This agreement needs to be finalized before the final environmental impact statement is completed.
- The final EIS, expected to be out by the end of the year, would address resident concerns, impacts on the GW Parkway viewshed, wildlife and vegetation, and the side effects of construction on the nearby residential communities. After that final report is issued, the Federal Transit Administration, and possibly the National Park Service, will each issue a Record of Decision, which will offer a recommendations on how to proceed. Officials hope to get clearance to build. The goal is to have a Record of Decision early next year, officials say. That will be the final step before construction.
The new station will be on the Blue and Yellow lines, between the National Airport and Braddock Road Metro stations. City officials hope the station, which has been planned for two decades, will spur a boom of development and millions of dollars in revenue to the city.
The site that the City Council picked Wednesday is between the GW Parkway and the CSX tracks, north of Potomac Greens and east of the existing Potomac Yard Retail Center. The station would be at-grade, with a side-platform layout and will cost $268 million. It would have a pedestrian bridge to provide access to Potomac Greens and Old Town Greens.
A city report concluded that this location would yield “the most economic benefit to the city,” because it would put the station closer to the areas of densest development expected to take place at Potomac Yard. The site is the best location to leverage the high-density development of office, commercial and residential uses envisioned for the area, the report said.
Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye said opening year ridership for the station is estimated to be 3,600 per day and projected to grow to 11,300 daily rides in 2040.