Alexandria picks location for future Metro station

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
Article image
This model shows the proposed Potomac Yard
Metro station (in the foreground). Image
courtesy City of Alexandria

Alexandria’s city council has chosen the location for a new multimillion-dollar Metro station that will serve the city’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

The station is expected to boost growth in Potomac Yard, a former rail yard earmarked for 13 million square feet of development.

The station is estimated to cost $268 million. According to city officials, the station would not use money from the city’s general fund.

Alexandria projects the station, which would be on Metrorail’s Yellow and Blue lines, would stimulate billions of dollars in investment. The city estimates development around the station will support up to 26,000 new jobs within a quarter mile of the site, add 13,000 new residents within a half mile and help ease traffic congestion on Route 1.

The city says the station would be funded through tax revenues from development around the project, regional transportation authority grants, developer contributions and two special tax districts. As a result, most of Alexandria’s residents and businesses would not pay taxes toward the station’s construction.

The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board already has awarded a $50 million, low-interest loan for the project, and the city plans to apply for $70 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and $50 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Sandra Marks, the city’s deputy director of transportation, says the project has, for the most part, received community support. Some residents, however, have concerns about potential problems during construction, including effects on traffic and parking.

Frank Fannon, a mortgage banker who is a former councilman, wonders whether Alexandria taxpayers will be on the hook if the city doesn’t receive the return on investment it expects. “That’s the challenge that a lot of Alexandrians are concerned about,” he says.

He points out that the new station would be built between the Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations, which already are connected by the Metroway bus rapid-transit system.

Another group of residents, the Potomac Yard Special Tax Districts Committee, is not against the station but is opposed to being taxed higher to fund it. Resident in the city’s “Tier II District” would have to pay an extra 10 cents per $100 of valuation on their property in addition to the city’s base real estate tax. The group believes that the special tax should be applied to all residents within a set radius of the community, or that they also should be excluded from the tax.

“We are confident that the leadership will not single out a few hundred taxpayers to bear the financial burden of this Metrorail plan, which will build public infrastructure that is intended to revitalize and bolster the entire community,” the group said in a statement earlier this month. 

Discussion about the station already has had an effect on the city, Marks says. Some people are moving to Potomac Yard because of the possible Metro link.  “I would say the majority of development that’s currently under construction is residential, but I think we’ll start to see more office and retail in the future,” she says.

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