Potomac Yard Metrorail Station Project FAQs

Why do we need a Potomac Yard Metrorail Station? How will it be paid for? Get the answers to these questions and more on our frequently asked questions page.

Page updated on Sep 19, 2018 at 5:05 PM

General Information

  1. Why do we need a Metrorail Station at Potomac Yard?
  2. How is the Potomac Yard Metrorail station to be financed?
  3. Does the Potomac Yard Metrorail station require using tax monies raised in other areas of the City to pay for the proposed station?
  4. How will the City fund the design and construction of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station?
  5. How does the Potomac Yard Metrorail station represent a major economic development opportunity for the City?
  6. Why a Metrorail station in this location?
  7. What is the National Environmental Policy Act?
  8. What are the roles of the City, FTA, WMATA, and NPS in the NEPA process?
  9. What is the public's role in the NEPA process?

Environmental Information

  1. What is an Environmental Impact Study (EIS)? 
  2. Who is involved in determining the Environmental Impact of the Potomac Yard Metrorail project?
  3. How was the project’s impact on the wetlands determined?
  4. What is the Preferred Alternative and how does it minimize the impact to the wetlands?
  5. Did the City engage the community during the planning, environmental and development processes?
  6. Does the removal of the south entrance change the purpose or need of the project?
  7. How will the City handle the wetlands as the Potomac Yard Project moves forward?
  8. What is the overall environmental benefit of the Potomac Yard Metrorail station?
  9. What environmental regulatory permits are required to construct the station?

Mitigation

  1. What is mitigation?
  2. What is compensatory mitigation?
  3. What is mitigation banking?
  4. Why does the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) prefer wetland mitigation credits over other methods of wetland mitigation such as off-site wetland creation?
  5. Is mitigation required to be “on-site” (i.e., located close to the impact) and “in-kind” (i.e., the replacement is of the same ecological type as the impacted resource)?
  6. How much mitigation is required?

Station Design

  1. What modifications were made to project?
  2. Why were the changes made?
  3. Why did the City sign a confidentiality agreement with WMATA?
  4. Since the station will be on the east side of the live track corridor (WMATA, CSX, and Amtrak), how will the station be accessed from the east and west?
  5. What is the impact to riders who would have used the south entrance and mezzanine?
  6. Can I cross the rail and Metro tracks if I am not riding the Metro?
  7. Why was the north crossing and mezzanine preserved rather than the south crossing and mezzanine?
  8. Will the changes have a negative impact on the planned commercial development?
  9. Will Potomac Yard continue to be a transit-oriented development?

Project Budget

  1. What is the current project budget?
  2. Why did the project budget increase?
  3. How is the station being funded?

Process

  1. Will there be an opportunity for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) and other community members to have input on the proposed changes?
  2. How will the Summer 2019 Metro station maintenance closures affect the project?

Construction Timeline

  1. When will construction start?
  2. When will impacted communities learn more about construction in the neighborhoods?
  3. When will the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station be open for service?

General Information

1. Why do we need a Metrorail Station at Potomac Yard?

Building a new Metrorail station is central to the vision for the redevelopment of Potomac Yard as a smart-growth, walkable mixed-use community, with access to high-quality retail, entertainment, and parks. A new Metrorail station will help to accommodate the growing transportation demand in the Route 1 corridor. A Metrorail station in Potomac Yard will provide benefits to the community and region by:

  • Maximizing the number of people taking transit to and from the Potomac Yard area by providing direct access to Metrorail;
  • Removing thousands of cars from the Route 1 corridor every day;
  • Enabling a mix of uses in an environment where people can walk or bike to destinations in Potomac Yard for their daily needs;
  • Providing a vibrant destination for all Alexandrians with a mix of uses, including significant shopping and public parks;
  • Strengthening and diversifying the tax base to improve the long-term economic stability of the City.  

Infographic side by side small
click to enlarge

2. How is the Potomac Yard Metrorail station to be financed?

The Potomac Yard Metrorail station is planned to be financed by a combination of taxes generated from new development in Potomac Yard, a real estate tax levy surcharge on Potomac yard property, as well as grant monies from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

3. Does the Potomac Yard Metrorail station require using tax monies raised in other areas of the City to pay for the proposed station?

No.  

4. How will the City fund the design and construction of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station?

The funding plan for the Metrorail station will use money generated by the redevelopment of Potomac Yard. These revenues are deposited into a pot called the "Potomac Yard Metrorail Station Fund" which can only be used for the design, construction, and financing of the Metrorail station. The fund includes developer contributions; revenue from two special tax districts in Potomac Yard; regional, state, and federal grants; and net new tax revenues in Potomac Yard (existing tax revenues and new revenues needed to support City and school public service demands from Potomac Yard development will go into the City's General Fund).

The City updates the bond rating agencies annually regarding this project, and they continue to give the City of Alexandria the best bond rating (AAA/Aaa). The City has recently updated the financial analysis for the Metrorail station. The analysis found that the City can finance the Metrorail station with no funds diverted from the General Fund. Both alternatives also have a positive return on investment over the long term. In addition, the analysis found that the City will make a surplus after 30 years of debt service. This surplus will be used to pay for services throughout the City.

                                                                            Station Revenue Sources

5. How does the Potomac Yard Metrorail station represent a major economic development opportunity for the City?

A Metrorail station will attract more businesses and jobs to the City.  Over 80% of all office building construction in the DC Metropolitan area is taking place within ¼ mile of an existing Metrorail station.  Potomac Yard represents smart-growth transit oriented development in generating new tax revenue for the City.  When completed, Potomac Yard could add as much as 26,000 new jobs to the City which would represent over a 25% increase in the City's employment base.  It is estimated that over about a 30 year period as much as some $888 million in net new tax revenue will be generated to be available to help fund services and capital investments citywide.  

6. Why a Metrorail station in this location?

Potomac Yard is a 235 acre site which was one of the largest freight rail yards on the East coast of the US until it closed in 1989. Given its acreage, location in the inner urban core of the DC metropolitan area, and adjacency to the Metrorail Blue and Yellow lines, building a Metrorail station at this site would help unlock and increase the economic development potential of Potomac Yard. Currently the 3.1 mile distance between the Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport Metrorail stations is the longest stretch of Metrorail line inside the Beltway without a station.

7. What is the National Environmental Policy Act?

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of certain proposed projects prior to making decisions. The NEPA process is meant to help public officials make better informed decisions, and to enable community involvement with those decisions. The NEPA process is required for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station process so that the project can be eligible for federal funding and because some of the alternatives may affect the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  

8. What are the roles of the City, FTA, WMATA, and NPS in the NEPA process?

  • The City of Alexandria is the project sponsor and joint lead agency.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is the lead federal agency, because the City will be seeking federal funding for a portion of the project.
  • The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is a cooperating agency because they would operate the station once it is built.
  • The National Park Service (NPS) is a cooperating agency because of its role in administering the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  

9. What is the public's role in the NEPA process?

Throughout the NEPA process, members of the public have provided oral and written feedback at public meetings and have also submitted written feedback through email and postal mail. Public feedback helped to shape the alternatives analyzed as part of the Draft EIS, and highlighted resource areas of particular concern to the community. The public has been engaged through:

  • Public meetings and community group meetings
  • Project newsletters
  • Interaction with community organizations
  • The Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Group (PYMIG), which was created by the Alexandria City Council to assist in the EIS process. PYMIG members include representatives from City Council, various City commissions, and the public. Members of the public are also invited to attend PYMIG meetings and offer feedback.

Environmental Information

1. What is an Environmental Impact Study (EIS)? 

It is a federally-mandated comprehensive study conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which seeks to ensure that a proposed public infrastructure project has no or minimal environmental impact on the area. The extensive study reviews alternative plans that take into account, beneficial and adverse, socio-economic, cultural, environmental and other factors effecting the overall human environment surrounding a proposed development. The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station EIS can be found on the City's website.

2. Who is involved in determining the Environmental Impact of the Potomac Yard Metrorail project?

The City of Alexandria worked with the National Park Service (NPS), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to collaboratively conduct an Environmental Impact Study to review and select a plan with the least amount of environmental impact. The City proceeded with the FTA preferred alternative (the plan selected after years-long preparation and review), per the FTA Environmental Impact Study and NPS Record of Decision which are all available on the City's website

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) must issue a permit for any construction activities that will impact wetlands.  That permit will define the wetland mitigation measures that the project will be responsible for providing. USACE’s role is not to re-evaluate the selection of the Preferred Alternative. 

3. How was the project’s impact on the wetlands determined? 

The City of Alexandria has been fully engaged with the National Park Service, Federal Transit Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers during the development of the Potomac Yards Metrorail Station project. 

Existing wetlands within the study area were delineated by qualified environmental scientists through field reviews and GIS analyses and the impacts of each alternative was determined during the evaluation process.  More detail on the wetland delineation process is in section 3.14.1 of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station EIS which can be found on the City's website. The wetlands on the site were closely examined as part of the environmental review process and that effort included significant community outreach and ultimately resulted in a federally approved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), finalized in June 2016. The National Park Service and Federal Transit Administration each subsequently issued formal Records of Decision which include conditions relative to the affected wetlands. All the reports, formal letters from federal partners and other information is available on the City’s website.

4. What is the Preferred Alternative and how does it minimize the impact to the wetlands?

The Preferred Alternative is designed to minimize impacts to the wetlands and to compensate for impacts to delineated wetlands in accordance with the Clean Water Act, Virginia Law and National Park Service policies. The Preferred Alternative includes the restoration of off‐site wetlands in part because the EIS determined that construction of the station is not possible without the use of the wetlands due to the physical site and land use constraints, engineering constraints, and other environmental constraints. This is an outcome common with large transportation projects across the nation. To avoid the wetlands, there would be other environmental impacts such as noise, vibration and visual impacts associated with placing it closer to townhomes in Potomac Greens (Alternative A). Alternative D would have re‐routed the Metrorail line over the CSXT tracks into Potomac Yard to avoid the wetlands and floodplain, but would impact 1.43 acres of George Washington Memorial Parkway and 0.52 acres of Waters of the U.S. along Four Mile Run. There would also be additional noise, vibration and visual impacts to the Potomac Greens community due to aerial tracks.  The preferred alternative (Alternative B) is located as far west as possible to minimize permanent impacts to the floodplain and wetlands.  

Wetlands are only one of many environmental factors considered when evaluating all environmental impacts and assessing alternatives. Other key environmental resources that are used to determine impact are neighborhoods, parklands and cultural resources.

5. Did the City engage the community during the planning, environmental and development processes? 

Yes, the City of Alexandria and coordinating agencies have engaged and will continue to engage and communicate directly with the community during the entire process to build  and open the Potomac Yard station. The public involvement phase of the EIS began in 2011 and included 100 documented meetings ranging from formal public hearings at City Council, Planning Commission, Board of Architecture  as well as open house presentations at neighborhoods and civic associations across the City. Additional public outreach activities included project newsletters, flyers (in English and Spanish) delivered to adjacent properties and regular outreach. This civic engagement resulted in 370 formally documented comments submitted on behalf of individuals or agencies. Responses to each comment are listed in the EIS. 

Presentations and video of public meetings can be found on the links below. 

6. Does the removal of the south entrance change the purpose or need of the project? 

The removal of the south entrance does not change the purpose or the need of the project and the environmental impact as examined in the EIS remains unchanged.

7. How will the City handle the wetlands as the Potomac Yard Project moves forward?

The City will continue to coordinate with the National Park Service and Army Corps during design and construction of the project, especially as it relates to wetland impacts and mitigation. The City has submitted a Joint Permit Application to the Army Corps, which is required by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill materials into waters including wetlands, and will be working with the contractor and WMATA to meet all requirements of that permit as well as all other required permits.

8. What is the overall environmental benefit of the Potomac Yard Metrorail station? 

Building a new Metrorail station is central to the vision for redevelopment of the Potomac Yard as a smart-growth, walkable community and will have tremendous environmental benefits to the area and region. This new station will help accommodate the growing transportation needs in the Route 1 corridor.  By maximizing the number of our citizens with access to transit, it is estimated that the result will be removing over 5,000 vehicles from the roads every day.

9. What environmental regulatory permits are required to construct the station?

In addition to complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA ), the City must coordinate with two main regulatory agencies who have jurisdiction over the wetlands; the Army Corps and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ).  These agencies collectively determine what state and federal regulatory permits are required and establish conditions that the City must meet for restoration of temporary wetland impacts and mitigation of unavoidable permanent wetland impacts.  

In October of 2017, The City submitted a Joint Permit Application (JPA) to the state and federal agencies.  In February of 2018, the Army Corps issued the required Public Notice and opened a 30-day public comment period.  The City provided comment responses to the Army Corps and anticipates that an Army Corps permit will be issued in the Fall of 2018.

VDEQ provided the City a draft Virginia Water Protection Permit (VWP) in September of 2018 and a draft copy of the Public Notice the City must advertise.  After a preliminary review period, the City will issue the required Public Notice which will commence a 30-day VDEQ public comment period.  The notice will include contact information for the VDEQ staff member who will receive all public comments.  Once the City responds to all public comments, VDEQ will prepare a final draft of the VWP permit which the City anticipates will be issued in the Fall of 2018.


Mitigation

1. What is mitigation?

The Virginia Water Protection permit regulations state that "mitigation means sequentially avoiding and minimizing impacts to the extent practicable, and then compensating for remaining unavoidable impacts of a proposed action" (9 VAC 25-210-10). Virginia State Water Control Law states that when Virginia Water Protection permits are issued, such "permits should contain requirements for compensating impacts on wetlands." The law further states that "such compensation requirements shall be sufficient to achieve no net loss of existing wetlands acreage and functions" (§ 62.1-44.15:21 B, Code of Virginia).

On March 31, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) announced innovative new standards to promote no net loss of wetlands by improving wetland restoration and protection policies, increasing the effective use of wetland mitigation banks and strengthening the requirements for the use of in-lieu fee mitigation (see EPA Mitigation Rule pamphlet). Federal wetlands mitigation policy is guided by a Memorandum of Agreement between the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the US Environmental Protection Agency that clarify a three-step approach to avoiding impacts, minimizing impacts, and compensating for unavoidable impacts (2008 Final Compensatory Mitigation Rule).

For additional information on the Mitigation Rule, see the Corps' Question and Answers Factsheet.

2. What is compensatory mitigation?

USACE: The objective of the Clean Water Act (CWA) is “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” Toward achievement of this goal, the CWA prohibits the discharge of dredged or fill material into wetlands, streams, and other waters of the United States unless a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or approved State under CWA Section 404 authorizes such a discharge. When there is a proposed discharge, all appropriate and practicable steps must first be taken to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. For unavoidable impacts, compensatory mitigation is required to replace the loss of wetland, stream, and/or other aquatic resource functions. The Corps (or approved state authority) is responsible for determining the appropriate form and amount of compensatory mitigation required. Methods of providing compensatory mitigation include aquatic resource restoration, establishment, enhancement, and in certain circumstances, preservation.

Compensatory mitigation is typically accomplished through the following three ways:

  1. Mitigation Banks: A permit applicant may obtain credits from a mitigation bank. A mitigation bank is a wetland, stream or other aquatic resource area that has been restored, established, enhanced, or preserved. This resource area is then set aside to compensate for future impacts to aquatic resources resulting from permitted activities. The value of a bank is determined by quantifying the aquatic resource functions restored, established, enhanced, and/or preserved in terms of “credits.” Permittees, upon approval of regulatory agencies, can acquire these credits to meet their requirements for compensatory mitigation.
  2. In-Lieu Fee Mitigation: A permit applicant may make a payment to an in-lieu fee program that will conduct wetland, stream or other aquatic resource restoration, creation, enhancement, or preservation activities. In-lieu fee programs are generally administered by government agencies or non-profit organizations that have established an agreement with the regulatory agencies to use in-lieu fee payments collected from permit applicants.
  3. Permittee-Responsible Mitigation: A permittee may be required to provide compensatory mitigation through an aquatic resource restoration, establishment, enhancement and/or preservation activity. This compensatory mitigation may be provided at or adjacent the impact site (i.e., on-site mitigation) or at another location, usually within the same watershed as the permitted impact (i.e., off-site mitigation). The permittee retains responsibility for the implementation and success of the mitigation project.

VDEQ: Compensatory mitigation is the last step in the three-step approach to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands.  The Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) worked closely with the Norfolk Corps to develop the Offsite Mitigation Guidelines, issued in March 2008.  These guidelines are for use for permit-specific compensation, mitigation banks, and in-lieu-fee projects.  The guidelines identify priority areas for compensation sites, sites that have a higher likelihood of success, and sites that may satisfy more than one conservation goal. In December 2002, the Corps published a Regulatory Guidance Letter clarifying their policies on compensatory mitigation. This guidance was revised in July 2004 and re-issued as the Norfolk District Corps and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Recommendations for Wetland Compensatory Mitigation: Including Site Design, Permit Conditions, Performance Criteria, and Monitoring Criteria. The document explains many of the terms and practical application of compensatory mitigation concepts. Additionally, a checklist was developed in conjunction with the recommendation document.

Compensatory mitigation is defined in the Virginia Water Protection Program regulation as "actions taken that provide some form of substitute aquatic resource for the impacted aquatic resource" (9 VAC 25-210-10). In Virginia, compensatory mitigation may include:

  • Purchase or use of wetland mitigation bank credits at a DEQ-approved mitigation bank
  • Contributing to a DEQ-approved in-lieu fee fund
  • Wetland creation or restoration
  • Stream restoration (see the Unified Stream Methodology below)
  • Preservation of existing wetland and streams, when utilized in conjunction with creation, restoration, or mitigation bank credits
  • Preservation or restoration of upland buffers adjacent to surface waters, when utilized in conjunction with creation, restoration, or mitigation bank credits

3. What is mitigation banking?

The purpose of mitigation banks is to replace the biological, chemical, and physical functions of wetland resources by quantifying the replaced function as a "credit", which can be purchased by third parties to compensate ("debit") for unavoidable wetland losses.  Advantages of mitigation banks include:

  • Larger sites with potentially increased functions and values
  • Economies of scale for financial resources, long-term monitoring and maintenance
  • Compensation occurs in advance of the impact
  • Potentially reduces permit review time frames

Federal guidance defines mitigation banking as "wetlands restoration, creation, enhancement, and in exceptional circumstances, preservation, undertaken expressly for the purpose of compensating for unavoidable wetland losses in advance of development actions, when such compensation cannot be achieved at the development site or would not be as environmentally beneficial." For the full text on the Federal Guidance for the Establishment, Use and Operation of Mitigation Banks, see www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/mitbankn.html.

4. Why does the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) prefer wetland mitigation credits over other methods of wetland mitigation such as off-site wetland creation?

Mitigation banks are a “performance-based” form of wetland and stream replacement because, unlike in-lieu fee mitigation and permittee-responsible mitigation, the tradable aquatic resource restoration credits generated by banks are tied to demonstrated achievement of project goals. Thus, the rule establishes a preference for the use of credits from mitigation banks when appropriate credits are available. The new rule encourages the use of mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs over use of permittee-responsible mitigation because mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs usually provide consolidated compensatory mitigation projects that have less risk and uncertainty. In its 2001 critique of wetland replacement practices, the NRC highlighted advantages of third-party compensation such as mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs noting that:

  1. Mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs use a multi-resource agency process that brings more expertise and collaboration into the planning, approval, and oversight of wetland restoration and protection projects; and
  2. Mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs have less risk than permittee-responsible mitigation projects to achieve desired long-term outcomes and to provide wetlands, streams, and other aquatic habitats that are protected in perpetuity by organizations dedicated to resource conservation.

5. Is mitigation required to be “on-site” (i.e., located close to the impact) and “in-kind” (i.e., the replacement is of the same ecological type as the impacted resource)?

Since 1990, there has been a general and flexible preference that mitigation should occur on-site and in-kind. The new rule retains a flexible preference for in-kind mitigation; however, it replaces the on-site preference with a hierarchy that considers compensation options in the following order:   

  1. Use of credits from a mitigation bank, 
  2. Use of credits from an in-lieu fee program, 
  3. Permittee-responsible compensatory mitigation developed using a watershed approach, 
  4. On-site/in-kind permittee-responsible mitigation, and 
  5. Off-site/out-of-kind permittee-responsible mitigation. 

6. How much mitigation is required?

The compensation ratios below are generally accepted, especially when compensation is required for a VDEQ VWP general permit activity. Alternative ratios may be required by VDEQ for activities permitted under a VWP individual permit.

  • 2 acres compensation for each 1 acre of impact (2:1) for forested wetland impacts
  • 1.5:1 for scrub-shrub wetland impacts
  • 1:1 for emergent wetland impacts
  • project-specific ratios for other surface water impacts 

Sources:


Station Design

1. What modifications were made to project?

At this time, the station no longer includes a south station mezzanine, a south pedestrian bridge or its associated ramps, or a pavilion at East Glebe Road. Improvements will be made to the north entrance to enhance access from East Glebe Road.

2. Why were the changes made?

Changes were made to keep the station project affordable and allow it to continue to move forward through the WMATA procurement process. As a result, the City and WMATA have reduced the scope of planned construction so that the station can be built.

3. Why did the City sign a confidentiality agreement with WMATA?

To maintain the integrity of the competitive procurement process, the City was required to curtail some communication with the public while WMATA reviewed confidential bids from prospective construction contractors.  City staff were permitted to participate in the process only if they adhered to WMATA's strict confidentiality rules, including signing a non-disclosure agreement.  For more information about the design change process, see the City's news release and the City Manager's letter to the community.

4. Since the station will be on the east side of the live track corridor (WMATA, CSX, and Amtrak), how will the station be accessed from the east and west? 

Access from the east:

There is direct access from the east side of the station. Residents will walk along the east side of the station and have a direct access point at the north end of the station.

Access from the west:

There will be access from the west side to the station including a bridge crossing over the CSX tracks. This north access crossing can be used from the north pavilion or from a to-be-designed southern access from the East Glebe Road area. City staff will facilitate a design process with the community and the contractor starting this summer. This process will include exploration of access and design options from Potomac Avenue at East Glebe Road to the north entrance.

5. What is the impact to riders who would have used the south entrance and mezzanine?

Riders will now use the to-be-designed access point from the Glebe Road area and walk north to cross the north access crossing and enter the north mezzanine. This is an increased walking distance of approximately 350 feet (or approximately one Old Town city block) and can be seen here on this illustrative conceptual graphic.

6. Can I cross the rail and Metro tracks if I am not riding the Metro?

Yes, you will be able to cross the rail and Metro tracks without paying to enter the fare area of the station.

7. Why was the north crossing and mezzanine preserved rather than the south crossing and mezzanine?

The City still plans to include a southern access, to the north entrance, from near the area of East Glebe Road and Potomac Avenue. However, a dedicated southern entrance needed to be removed due to its substantial cost. Density and ridership projections conducted as part of this project show ridership will be far heavier in the area closest to the north entrance. The station is expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investment, and support approximately 26,000 new jobs and 13,000 new residents. The future station design will offer close proximity to transit for those living and working in and around Potomac Yard, and businesses and organizations that are currently in, or are planning to move to, the area. 

8. Will the changes have a negative impact on the planned commercial development?

A fundamental economic and station financing premise of the land use and transportation planning for Potomac Yard has been to focus commercial uses (office, retail and hotel uses) in close proximity to the Metrorail station.  While a new station design is expected to result in a minor reduction in the amount of commercial uses within a 1/4 mile of the planned Metrorail station, 80% of the commercial uses are still within a 1/4 mile.  A full 100% of the commercial uses are located within a 1/2 mile. The development uses are shown on the original conceptual station design and the current conceptual station design ¼ mile and ½ mile radii exhibits.   There continues to be a significant amount of commercial opportunities within Potomac Yard within a ¼ mile of the Metrorail station. The table below depicts all of the uses within a ¼ and ½ mile of the Metrorail station.

                                                            PY Metro Station Proposal

9. Will Potomac Yard continue to be a transit-oriented development?

Potomac Yard will continue to be served by two Metrorail stations (Braddock and Potomac Yard). Reference the current conceptual station design ¼ mile and ½ mile radius exhibit. In addition, Potomac Yard is already served by the transitway (Metroway) on Route 1 and within Potomac Yard. In addition, the mix of uses and the pedestrian-oriented design of Potomac Yard will enable Potomac Yard to continue to be a transit-oriented development.


Project Budget

1. What is the current project budget?

The project budget is $320 million. The budget was increased by $52 million in April 2018.

2. Why did the project budget increase?

The initial project budget was calculated in 2015 following usual and customary federal Standard Cost Categories (SCC) procedures. The project costs were presented as a range from low ($160 million) to high ($315 million), and a representative value of 85 percent of the high end was used as the budget ($268 million). There are numerous factors as to why the project budget has increased which include (a) general construction cost escalation; (b) increased labor and material costs; (c) various risk factors which include working in the proximity of the live track corridor, challenging geotechnical conditions, likely contaminated soil issues, complex multiple stakeholder coordination, limited site access, and a constricted project site. Due to its extremely constrained site between National Park Service land and an active Metrorail and passenger and rail freight corridor, the Potomac Yard Metrorail site is a “unicorn” in that there is sparse precedent in costing.  In the nearly half-century of the Metrorail system, there has been only one infill station (NoMA-Galludet U) ever constructed on the Metrorail’s 100-mile plus system.

3. How is the station being funded?

The table below provides a general breakdown of the total funding sources for the project. The total project costs are expected to equal $320 million, including WMATA project costs of $290 million and City-managed costs of $30 million. The funding sources include $70 million from Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) that has already been awarded, and a $50 million loan from the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (VTIB) that has also been secured. The remaining $200 million is expected to be comprised of a combination of long term General Obligation (GO) bonds and a loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Build America Bureau, formerly known as a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.

Sources of Funds Millions ($)
Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Grant Funds $69.5
Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank Loan $50.0
General Obligation Bonds 1 $65 to $83.0
Build American Bureau Funding (TIFIA) 1 $88 to $106.0
Cash and Other Sources $29.0
Total Sources $320.0

1 The City is currently under consideration for a Build American Bureau loan from the federal Department of Transportation.  The Letter of Interest has been accepted and the City is currently working through the creditworthiness phase.  If the project is selected, the amount of general obligation borrowing will be reduced by the amount of project costs that are eligible for funding through the Build America Bureau. The NVTA grant funds have been awarded and the VTIB loan agreement is secured.  


Process

1. Will there be an opportunity for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group (PYMIG) and other community members to have input on the proposed changes?

Yes, the City will lead a community engagement process in the summer or fall of 2018 as a part of the station design. The Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) approved by City Council for this project will need to be amended. The DSUP amendment is anticipated to be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council in December 2018. In addition to the DSUP amendment process, all design changes will be reviewed by the City’s Old and Historic Board of Architecture Review and the National Park Service.

2. How will the Summer 2019 Metro station maintenance closures affect the project?

In May 2018, WMATA announced a summer 2019 temporary shutdown of all Blue and Yellow Line stations south of the Reagan National Airport Station. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019, the stations will close to allow the work on outdoor station platforms. WMATA and the City will coordinate with the contractor to ensure the project can take full advantage of this 90-day shutdown window. While the 90-day temporary shutdown is a negative for Alexandria Metrorail riders, it produces a positive opportunity window for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station construction project.


Construction Timeline

1. When will construction start?

There could be some early construction activities occurring as early as late 2018 (e.g., site access, construction trailer installation, initial clearing, geotechnical work). More substantial construction activities are forecasted to commence in early 2019, following the forecasted approval of the Development Special Use Permit (DSUP) by City Council in late 2018. 

2. When will impacted communities learn more about construction in the neighborhoods?

Once a contractor is in place, which is expected to occur in the summer of 2018, the City will work with WMATA, the contractor, and the community in regard to construction impacts. This fall City, WMATA and the contractor will meet with individual homeowner’s associations and community groups to discuss the project schedule and specific community impacts in more detail. 

3. When will the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station be open for service?

The station is expected to open in late 2021 or early 2022.

Top