City of Alexandria Renews Environmental Commitments Related to Potomac Yard Metro Station

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City of Alexandria Renews Environmental Commitments Related to Potomac Yard Metro Station

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2018

With construction of the new Potomac Yard Metro Station anticipated to begin early next year, the City of Alexandria is renewing its commitment to strict compliance with all federal, state and local requirements related to environmental protection.

“This project has been a long-term collaboration between the City, Metro, and federal and state regulators to ensure the station will help meet community transportation needs and spur economic growth while honoring Alexandria’s environmental values,” said City Manager Mark Jinks.  

“As this project enters a new period of activity, the City has been and will continue to focus on environmental protection through and beyond completion,” said Director of Transportation and Environmental Services Yon Lambert.

The new station will be built by Potomac Yard Constructors, under contract with the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) and funded primarily by the City of Alexandria. All three entities are working closely together, and with federal and state regulatory agencies, to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and all other applicable requirements.

A primary benefit of the new station is to lower environmental impact and reduce congestion by removing more than 5,000 vehicles per day from the George Washington Memorial Parkway, U.S. Route 1, and other area roads in conjunction with new residential and commercial development in Potomac Yard.

Environmental Impact Statement Issued by Federal Agencies

NEPA requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of projects that may receive federal funds or impact federal land.  To comply with NEPA, the City worked with the National Park Service (NPS), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and WMATA to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to review and select a station location with the least amount of net environmental impact. After extensive public input and participation over several years, NPS and FTA issued Records of Decision to concur with the selection of the preferred station location.

Regulatory Permits Pending from Federal and State Agencies

The City continues to make every effort to minimize the impact of station construction on wetlands -- ecologically sensitive areas such as marshes and swamps.  Some impact on wetlands is unavoidable, and the new station is expected to permanently impact 1.56 acres and temporarily impact 2.85 acres.

In October 2017, the City submitted a Joint Permit Application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), in order to fill and excavate portions of wetlands. In February 2018, USACE opened a 30-day public comment period. The City provided responses to the comments received, and expects USACE will make a determination on permit issuance in fall 2018, after the internal USACE Environmental Assessment is completed in compliance with NEPA.  Any permit issued will outline the conditions the City is required to meet. VDEQ provided the City with a draft Virginia Water Protection Permit in September 2018. VDEQ will open a 30-day public comment on September 28, and the City will respond to any comments received.  The City anticipates that VDEQ will issue a final permit, including additional conditions the City must meet, in the next several months.

The City will continue to work with WMATA and the construction contractor to obtain any additional permits that may be required to conduct preliminary site investigations prior to the commencement of construction.

City-Funded Wetlands Mitigation

Temporary impacts due to construction will be restored on-site in compliance with a wetlands restoration plan to be coordinated and approved by USACE, VDEQ and NPS. In the process of restoring the wetlands, invasive species will be removed and a population of native species, approved by the regulatory agencies, will be established.

To mitigate permanent impacts, the City will purchase wetland credits approved by USACE and VDEQ.  Credits help fund the restoration of other wetlands, and are the method of mitigation preferred in federal and state environmental laws.  On September 19, the City advertised a competitive procurement process to purchase credits.

In addition, the City will compensate NPS for impacts to national wetlands by funding the replacement of the same acreage of permanently impacted wetlands, at a location determined by NPS.  The agreement between the City and NPS originally incorporated NPS’ selection of Dyke Marsh as the location where the funds would be spent, but NPS has recently requested modification of this agreement to reflect its decision to use the funds along the C&O Canal instead.

Ongoing Maintenance and Monitoring

Once the initial wetlands restoration takes place, a long-term maintenance and monitoring period will follow to ensure the wetlands are re-established as agreed upon in the NPS Record of Decision and per the conditions of all regulatory permits. This will include any plant replacements, removal of invasive species, and required reporting to regulatory agencies.  

During construction, best-management practices will be used to prevent pollution of adjacent lands and waters via surface runoff. A Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan will be approved by the City’s Stormwater Division for compliance with local ordinance and state law.

Station Design Updates

The City will solicit public input this fall on design changes to the new station, including the construction contract requirement to improve access from the south to the station’s north entrance.  Opportunities for public participation will include meetings of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group, the Planning Commission, the Old and Historic District Board of Architectural Review, and City Council.  There is no change in environmental impact based on the removal of one of the three entrances in the original station design, and thus no need to re-open prior federal or state agency environmental reviews on that basis.

Background

The new Potomac Yard Metro Station, to be built on Metrorail's Yellow and Blue Lines between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, will provide an extensive range of benefits for Alexandria and the surrounding community, including walkable access to regional transportation systems for neighborhoods in the northeast area of the city. The station is also expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investment over the long term and eventually support 26,000 new jobs and 13,000 new residents. The Potomac Yard area represents the most significant redevelopment and tax base growth opportunity for Alexandria, with the potential to achieve the vision for an urban mix of uses near transit.

The $320 million station will be funded through a variety of sources – including new tax revenue gained primarily from development in Potomac Yard over the next 40 years, regional transportation authority grants, and developer contributions. Construction of the station is expected to begin in spring 2019, with completion by early 2022.

For more information about Potomac Yard projects, including additional information about the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station and details about the studies, permits, plans, meetings and public comment periods described above, visit alexandriava.gov/PotomacYard.  For official notices of public meetings, visit alexandriava.gov/Calendar.

For media inquiries, contact Craig Fifer, Director of Communications and Public Information, at craig.fifer@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3965.

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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/105966.

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