Potomac Yard Metro station delayed again

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Local,Kytja Weir,Metro,Alexandria,Metro and Traffic

Plans to build a Metro station at Alexandria's Potomac Yard have hit another snag, pushing back the opening of a potential station there to 2017 at the earliest.

The infill Metro station between the Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stops along the Blue and Yellow lines has been in the works for two decades. In the latest incarnation, the Alexandria City Council was slated to pick a spot for the station by September.

But changes to a preliminary study of the impact of such a project have caused delays. "With this additional work, it became clear the original schedule could not be met and public engagement would have occurred during the summer, which would have resulted in less opportunity for community input," a notice from the city said.

Private dollars to build new Metro stops?
In 1994, the Potomac Yard Metrorail station was supposed to be the first privately funded Metro stop, but the deal fell through. Today, portions of the Silver Line under construction are funded through special tax districts, as was the NoMa-Gallaudet U station on the Red Line, according to Metro.

Now the City Council is slated to choose its preferred location in November, said Sandra Marks, the city's transportation planning division chief. That will push back the timeline, although she said the city is hoping to absorb some of the delays. Still, she said, it will push the opening from late 2016 into early 2017.

For those living in the area, it's more of the waiting game they've faced for years. At one point, the stop was slated to open by 2000.

The Blue and Yellow lines were built with the potential for adding another station in the area. In 1994, a deal was reached for developer RF&P Corp. to pay some $20 million for the station's construction, in what was slated to be the first privately funded Metro station. But the deal fell apart when the land was not developed, according to Metro.

At other points the former industrial site was considered for a Virginia Railway Express stop and the Washington Redskins football stadium.

The challenge for a new Metro station there is that a set of CSX freight tracks lies between the Metro tracks and the Potomac Yard development. That means Metro train tracks would have to cross over the freight tracks or riders would need to do so on foot.

The city has two scenarios in which the station is built on the far side of the CSX tracks, connecting riders to the shopping area through pedestrian bridges. One site is slightly farther north than the other.

A third option would entail building tracks above the CSX tracks to an elevated station beside the shopping center.

The project could cost as much as $538 million. But private funding for a portion of that has not been abandoned. Developer JBG Corp. has agreed to pay about $49 million in 2010 dollars toward construction costs if the northern option on the far side of the CSX tracks is chosen, Marks said, and the area could have a special taxing district.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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