Recommendation for Consideration by Alexandria City Council
City and National Park Service Reach Agreement on Mitigation
The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station project reached its next milestone today, as City of Alexandria staff issued a report recommending Alternative B for the construction of a new station. The report, along with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) published on March 27, will be the subject of eight public meetings and hearings prior to City Council’s consideration on May 20.
“This report is another important step in moving this vital project forward,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “It represents dedicated and coordinated efforts at the local, state and federal levels, and I thank all involved for their continued diligence.”
Under Alternative B, the new station would be located at-grade, east of the existing Potomac Yard Retail Center (see above model). This would position the station to leverage the development of the high-density mix of office, retail, restaurant and residential uses envisioned for North Potomac Yard, and the associated community, transportation, and economic development benefits.
The report further recommends that no construction access occur via the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP). The City would continue to pursue strategies to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts to the Potomac Greens neighborhood, and to natural and cultural resources.
Alternative B would require new rail right-of-way on approximately 0.16 acres of land currently administered by the National Park Service (NPS), and the release of an NPS easement on approximately 1.71 acres of City property where the station would be located. In exchange, the City would transfer to the United States approximately 13.56 acres of local parkland adjacent to the GWMP. This would result in a significant net increase in national parkland. The City would also commit approximately $12 million for improvements to the Mount Vernon Trail and Daingerfield Island in Alexandria; stormwater management; mitigation of the visual impact of the station from the parkway; and other GWMP needs.
The proposal to NPS is described in the report and is consistent with information provided to the community over the last few months. In an April 20 letter to the City, NPS concluded that the proposal would “sufficiently mitigate” the new station’s impacts on park land and resources, and “NPS accordingly does not object to the identification of Alternative B as the locally preferred alternative,” or LPA. City Council’s selection of an LPA would permit the preparation of a Final EIS for approval by the FTA and NPS, and the start of design and construction if City Council chooses to proceed with a new station.
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. Since February 2015, hundreds of residents have participated in meetings of community groups and three community Open Houses. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency that would build and operate a new station, will hold a public hearing on April 30, and City Council will hold a public hearing on May 16. Several City boards and commissions will also review the project in April and May.
The Final EIS will incorporate formal public comment received between April 3 and May 18. Comments may be submitted until 5 p.m. on May 18, via email to email@example.com or via postal mail 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 of the station, and 13,000 new residents within one-half mile of the station, while removing thousands of private vehicles from the congested Route 1 corridor.
A 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 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.