City of Alexandria Announces Updates on Southwest Access to Potomac Yard Metro Station
For Immediate Release: May 31, 2019
The City of Alexandria is providing updates on work to add a southwest point of access to the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station.
The station was originally designed to have two entrances on the west side of the tracks (one to the north end of the platform and one to the south end), and another entrance on the east side of the tracks. When initial construction bids in 2017 far exceeded the project’s budget, the only practical way to keep the station financially viable was to reconfigure the entrances to retain only one on each side of the tracks.
In fall 2018, the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) held a series of community meetings on the preferred design for improved access to the north entrance from the south, and a ramp from Potomac Avenue and E. Glebe Road directly to the north pedestrian bridge was included in the updated development special use permit for the station approved by City Council.
In November 2018, the state announced $50 million of funding for enhanced southwest access to the station, in conjunction with the announcement that Amazon and Virginia Tech would develop major facilities in the area. The City noted at that time that a southwest entrance may not be able to be included in the initial station construction and may not be of the same scale as contemplated in the original station design.
In consultation with PYMIG, City and Metro staff developed three concepts for providing additional access to the station from the southwest in lieu of the ramp in the current design. These concepts were submitted to the station construction contractor to prepare preliminary pricing and schedule estimates and determine which concepts, if any, could be built within the $50 million of available state funding. Based on the responses from the contractor received by Metro earlier this month, City and Metro staff analyzed the responses to estimate the total costs associated with each concept. A southwest access pavilion with a bridge to the north entrance would cost approximately $75 million; a ramp from E. Glebe Road with a moving walkway to the north entrance would cost approximately $90 million, and a southwest access pavilion with a small mezzanine would cost approximately $100 million. While either of the first two concepts would likely result in little or no delay to the overall station construction, the third concept could delay the station opening by up to a year.
If the City were to proceed with one of these three concepts, the difference between the actual cost and the $50 million in state funding would have to be borrowed through municipal bonds. Including interest on the bonds, this would result in a cost to the City’s General Fund of $49 million for the first concept, $78 million for the second, or $98 million for the third. This money could not then be used for any other projects or programs.
In a memorandum to PYMIG today, the City Manager recommended that the City request that Metro direct its contractor to further refine the first concept (a southwest entrance pavilion with a bridge to the north entrance, currently estimated to cost $75 million). Changes would eliminate the escalator from the concept (retaining an elevator and stairs), and make other adjustments with the goal of keeping the cost close to the $50 million of available state funding.
City staff will further discuss this information at the next PYMIG meeting, which will be held on June 10, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (900 Wythe St.). City Council will hold a public hearing on PYMIG’s recommendation as part of its regular meeting on June 22, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall (301 King St.). City Council is scheduled to further consider the issue and take action at its regular meeting in City Hall on June 25, which begins at 7 p.m.
If Metro’s contractor is directed to refine the first concept for southwest access, an updated estimate is expected in the fall. At that time, City Council will determine if the proposal can proceed within the project’s available funds and schedule. In the meantime, the contractor will proceed with planning for the construction of the station according to the approved design, so that no impact to the existing project schedule will occur.
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 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.
For more information about the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station, visit alexandriava.gov/PotomacYard.
For media inquiries, contact Craig Fifer, Director of Communications and Public Information, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.746.3965.
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This news release is available at alexandriava.gov/110001.