Potomac Yard Metrorail Station Planning Reaches Major Milestone

by Lee Hernly, Editor

Option A of Potomac Yard Metro in Alexandria Virginia as seen from the air

Draft Environmental Impact Statement Completed

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station is now available for public review and comment, marking a major milestone in the City of Alexandria’s vital transit and economic development initiative.

“This is a significant point in a critical project,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “The Draft EIS reflects extensive community input and staff expertise, and will help City Council make the best decision regarding a new station and location.  We thank the Federal Transit Administration, the National Park Service, and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, for their partnership and teamwork to reach this day.”

As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for major projects seeking federal funding, the EIS explains the need for the station and considers four alternatives for the station location.  For each alternative, the EIS evaluates the potential natural, visual, social, historical, cultural, and economic, and fiscal impacts.  The document also describes a “no build” alternative that relies on existing transportation infrastructure in lieu of a new station.  The EIS is a decision-making tool for City Council and partner agencies.

As project partners, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the National Park Service (NPS) have approved the Draft EIS for public review. Following a public comment period and series of community meetings and public hearings between April 3, 2015, and May 18, 2015, City Council will formally consider the new station and its preferred location.  A City Council decision will permit the preparation of a Final EIS for approval by the FTA and NPS, after which the design and construction of the station can begin.

The City has scheduled many opportunities for stakeholders to learn more about the Draft EIS and the benefits, history, purpose, and financial feasibility of the new station.  The City will hold three Community Open Houses (each focusing on a specific area of interest), five applicable board and commission meetings, and a formal public hearing on May 16.  The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency that will operate the new station, will also hold a public hearing on April 30.  For a detailed schedule of engagement opportunities, visit www.alexandriava.gov/PotomacYard.

The upcoming subject-specific Community Open Houses are as follows:

Land Use & Hazardous Materials
Community Open House #1
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
City Hall, Council Workroom, 301 King St., 2nd Floor
(Followed by the Potomac Yard Metrorail Work Group (PYMIG) meeting from
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in the adjacent City Council Chamber)

Wetlands, Greens Scenic Area Easement, City Parkland, National Park Service Land,
Visual Resources & Cultural Resources
Community Open House #2 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015,  6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe Ave.

Transportation, Noise, Vibration, Construction Access & Secondary/Cumulative Impacts
Community Open House #3
Monday, April 13, 2015, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Cora Kelly Recreation Center, 25 West Reed Aven.

The Draft EIS document is available online at www.alexandriava.gov/PotomacYard and can also be reviewed at several facilities throughout the City, including the following locations:

  • Alexandria Office of City Clerk – 301 King St., Room 2300, Alexandria
  • James M. Duncan Branch Library – 2501 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria
  • Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library – 5005 Duke St., Alexandria
  • Cora Kelly Recreation Center – 25 West Reed Ave., Alexandria
  • Aurora Hills Branch Library – 735 S. 18th St., Arlington
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Office of the Secretary,
    600 Fifth Street, NW Room 2D-209, Washington, DC

Comments may be submitted at any time to [email protected]. Comments submitted between April 3, 2015, and May 18, 2015, will be responded to in the Final EIS. Comments may also be mailed to Potomac Yard Metrorail Station EIS, P.O. Box 16531, Alexandria, VA 22302.

The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station would be built on Metrorail’s Yellow and Blue Lines, between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, and is expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investment.  The resulting development around the station will support up to 26,000 new jobs within one-quarter mile, and 13,000 new residents within one-half mile, while removing thousands of private vehicles from the congested Route 1 corridor.

The new station is anticipated to be funded through a variety of sources — including new tax revenue primarily from development around the station, regional transportation authority grants, developer contributions, and two new special tax districts – without the need for any additional local funds.  This means that most residents and businesses in Alexandria will not have to contribute existing local tax revenues to the station’s construction.

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