The planned Metro station in Alexandria’s growing Potomac Yard community is officially part of the region’s passenger rail system.
At the final meeting of 2015 last week, the Metro board of directors voted to incorporate the proposed station into its 91-station system, taking an important step to move the project forward.
The Metro board backed the city’s choice for a $268 million rail stop between the CSX railroad tracks and George Washington Memorial Parkway and gave authority to General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld to negotiate property for the project.
The transit agency’s steps move the project closer to construction just as Alexandria wraps up a federal environmental review process and begins to develop the station design, anticipating a 2020 opening.
“This is long overdue,” Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille, a member of the Metro board, said at a board meeting earlier this month. “It is something that we are very excited about and look forward to … [getting] the station up and running. This is a financial benefit to the entire region.”
The station, on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines, will be built between the Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport stations. City officials say they expect the station to bring 26,000 new jobs, 21,000 new homes and $1.5 billion in new tax revenue over the next 20 or 30 years.
Metro projects opening year ridership for the station at 3,600 per day and 11,300 daily rides in 2040.
The favorite location, approved by Alexandria and Metro, is north of Potomac Greens and east of the existing Potomac Yard Retail Center. The station would be at grade, with a side-platform layout at a site that would be closer to the areas of densest development expected to take place at Potomac Yard. City officials say the site is the best location to leverage the high-density development of office, commercial and residential uses envisioned for the area.
Metro said it concurred with Alexandria, noting that the site is “the best station location that meets the purpose and need of the project.”
Although Alexandria will pay for the project, Metro will be responsible for building it. The transit agency says it anticipated that about a dozen properties would be affected, including six owned by Alexandria, five in private hands and one held by the National Park Service.
Earlier this month, the Alexandria City Council approved an agreement between the city and the National Park Service settling the acquisition of 0.16 acres of Park Service land and impact on the George Washington Parkway. The preferred site would put the station partly on Park Service land and on a scenic easement. Through the agreement, 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 is expected to be finalized soon, city officials said.
The project’s final environmental impact statement is also expected to be released this winter with more details about impacts of the preferred site on the George Washington 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 and have the station up and running in the spring of 2020.
“We are feeling really positive about the project,” said Carrie Sanders, acting deputy director of Alexandria’s transportation department. “It is moving ahead, and we are reaching these key milestones.”