The addition of a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rail station at Potomac Yard is a central feature to successfully redeveloping a 300-acre former rail yard into an accessible and walkable mixed-use development, poised to give an economic boost to the area.
The area is part of National Landing, the future home of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and Amazon’s HQ2.
After years of planning and preparation, a public groundbreaking ceremony for the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station was held in mid-December, marking the start of major construction for one of the largest infrastructure projects in the region.
The event took place at the future location of the station’s northwest entrance. Hundreds of project partners and stakeholders attended the event, including Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and other elected officials; community members; consultants and contractors; and representatives of many federal, state and regional agencies.
“This will be a world-class station that will soon serve new riders,” Governor Northam said at the event. “I’m proud of the great work our public transit systems all across Virginia continue to achieve as we work together to connect all Virginians to more job opportunities.”
For more than a decade, WSP has been providing the City of Alexandria with ongoing financial analysis consulting services to assist several city departments, including the city manager, planning and zoning, and the department of finance on how best to pay for the new station. The initial work culminated in a value-capture analysis to fund the new rail station, followed by ongoing assistance and updates as the project evolved from planning to implementation. The firm’s analysis led to a viable solution that kept the station project on track.
In April, Alexandria City Council approved construction of a $50 million modified southwest entrance to the new station. The change adds a second pavilion to complement the northwest pavilion, which includes an elevator and stairs connecting to a 520-foot-long pedestrian bridge. Bridges connected to both pavilions lead to a 165-foot-long pedestrian overpass that crosses the rails and connects to the inbound and outbound platforms at the station.
This enhancement, which raises the overall project cost to $370 million, was funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Amazon HQ2 incentive package.
With ground broken and construction under way, the project is targeting completion in 2022.
“Given its scale, its close proximity to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, and adjacency to the Metrorail Blue and Yellow lines, the Metrorail station at Potomac Yard will increase the economic development potential of Potomac Yard, as well as ease vehicular traffic demand along the Route 1 corridor,” said Tim Thornton, director of economic analysis and strategy at WSP.