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Metro delays opening of Potomac Yard station until 2023

The transit agency also announced it is extending the closure of six stations south of Reagan National Airport

A rendering of the Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria. (City of Alexandria)

The opening of Metro’s Potomac Yard station in Alexandria has been pushed back until 2023, the transit agency said Friday.

The stop, which will sit between the Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road stations on the Yellow and Blue lines, had been expected to open later this year. But Andy Off, Metro’s executive vice president of capital delivery, said it became clear in recent days the project would not be completed in time and the opening would be delayed.

“We are frustrated with these developments on the Potomac Yard Station project,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to work as quickly as possible to deliver a high-quality station, and we are doing everything within our power to move the project forward in a safe and responsible way.”

The transit agency said crews ran into issues with the soil that affected the stability of the ground between the tracks. Construction was halted until a plan to deal with the issues could be developed.

Metro also said “unexpected site conditions and remediation efforts tied to the Potomac Yard station” would force the transit agency to extend the closure of six stations south of National Airport. The stations were scheduled to reopen Oct. 23, but work on tracks to the new station is now expected to end Nov. 5.

The project is being built by Potomac Yard Constructors, a joint venture of Halmar International and Schiavone Construction Co., two global construction companies. Messages left with the companies late Friday afternoon were not returned.

Safety system problems delay opening of Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria

Alexandria Mayor Justin M. Wilson (D) called the delayed station opening a “gut punch,” particularly because Metro did not provide a new opening date for the station.

“To get to this place now is really frustrating,” he said in an interview Friday. “As the entity that is paying the bills on this project, we are the customer here, and this is unacceptable.”

It’s the second time Metro has delayed the opening of the station. It originally had been scheduled to open this past April, but in July 2021, Metro announced it encountered issues with the design of a critical safety system at the station and pushed back its opening until the fall. Metro took responsibility for issues with the design of the automatic train control system, which ensures that trains maintain a safe distance from one another.

Wilson said that after that initial delay, Alexandria officials asked to receive more oversight on the project. Since last winter, city workers have shadowed and monitored construction at the new station, he said.

Those workers raised concerns about delays they thought would make it impossible for the station to open this fall, but Metro and its contractor insisted they could maintain the schedule, Wilson said. He said the city will assume more authority moving forward on operational decisions and change requests at the project site, while getting more frequent and detailed reporting on progress.

Given the economic consequences of the delays on the city and its businesses, Wilson said Alexandria should no longer be responsible for its total share of the project. The Potomac Yard station is a key component of Alexandria’s efforts to remake a 295-acre former railroad yard south of the airport into a bustling urban center.

Potomac Yard Metro station is over budget and behind schedule

Alexandria, along with other government and private partners has invested roughly $370 million to fund construction of the station.

“The impact of these delays on the city of Alexandria specifically is measured in the millions of dollars over the past year and a half, and that bill is going to continue to run,” Wilson said.

During the extended closure of six stations south of National Airport, Metro said free shuttle bus service will continue and that the Metroway-Potomac Yard line will continue to be free. Parking at the Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn and Huntington stations is also free.