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Metro picks construction team for Potomac Yard station

The selection of a contractor moves the project toward a 2022 opening.

Rendering of the Potomac Yard Metro station. (Courtesy of City of Alexandria) (City of Alexandria)
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Metro has selected a construction team for the Potomac Yard station, inching closer to reality a project that has been in Alexandria's vision for decades.

Potomac Yard Constructors, a joint venture of Halmar International and Schiavone Construction Co. — two global construction companies — won a $213.7 million construction contract, Metro said Monday.

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said the project will generate jobs and ultimately expand transit options for Alexandria residents.

“Once complete, the station and surrounding development will create a thriving community, connected by transit, where people can enjoy seamless access to jobs, education, stores, restaurants and entertainment options — both on site and throughout the region,” Wiedefeld said in a statement.

Alexandria scales back design for Potomac Yard Metro, including scrapping south entrance

Construction of the station, once slated to open in 2016, has been delayed multiple times in recent years, frustrating residents and city officials. Metro now says construction will begin in the spring and the station will open in early 2022.

The project has been scaled back, but will still come in at a higher cost than was first projected years ago. Earlier this year, Alexandria announced it was eliminating the south entrance to the station to reduce costs. Many residents and businesses are angry with the design changes, saying they were lured to the Potomac Yard area by the promise of a Metro station. They contend the changes reduce the benefits that the rail station was expected to provide for their side of the neighborhood, puts residents farther from the transit stop, and possibly jeopardizes the commercial development planned for South Potomac Yard.

Alexandria is expected to hold public hearings on the design changes this fall and address plans to improve access from the south to the station’s north entrance. City Manager Mark B. Jinks has said the south entrance could be added after the station is completed, and the city will be seeking future grant opportunities to expand the capacity. But he said the project, even without a second entrance, is a critical to the city's vision for Potomac Yard.

"The new station will improve neighborhood walkability and transit options while reducing traffic congestion,” Jinks said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the community in the coming months to finalize the details of the station design.”

Alexandria officials say confidentiality agreement kept them from disclosing changes to Potomac Yard Metro station

Metro is overseeing construction of the project; the city is funding it with money from a variety of sources, including state and federal grants, revenue from a special tax district and developer contributions. The project’s budget recently increased to $320 million from $268 million.

The contracting group selected has a big resume in infrastructure projects including mass transit and are subsidiaries of global construction companies. Schiavone is part of the Dragados Inversiones USA, S.L. family of companies, a subsidiary of Dragados S.A., one of the largest Spanish construction contractors in the world, according to the company website. Halmar has worked on major transit hubs including at JFK International Airport, and the New York City subway, according to the company.

Metro said its goal is to have 18 percent of the project spending go to small and minority-owned businesses.

The Potomac Yard station will be on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines, between the Braddock Road and National Airport stations. The site where it is being built is part of a 295-acre former railroad yard that is being transformed into an urban center with residential, commercial and office development.