Friday, January 28, 2011

All aboard at Potomac Yard Metro Station... in 2016

The Potomac Yard infill station in Alexandria is on track to open in 2016. It had better, because any delays could imperil Alexandria's funding for the project.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now underway, as required by law. As governments commonly do with EISes, they have launched a project website to disseminate information to the public.

The EIS process should last through 2013, and the city is closely managing the project against a goal of opening by the end of 2016. Vice Mayor Kerry Donley emphatically reminded staff at a meeting Tuesday that funding for the new Potomac Yard station is dependent upon on-time completion:
Any slippage in time along the way costs more money in one of two ways. Either in expense or inability to gather revenue as quickly as we would like... all of our projections on bonds, all of our projections on repayment of the bond are all predicated on opening in 2016.
The City of Alexandria created a special tax district and tax increment financing (TIF) area to pay for the station. That revenue depends on development around the station, but the development depends on the station. The city has issued bonds to pay for the station and budgeted funds to cover the bond debt service the first few years, but is counting on the TIF for later years. If the station and surrounding development are delayed, the bond repayment costs could cut into other city services or cause other financial complications.

To allay fears, staff informed Council that the City has hired a project manager to keep it on task. Also, WMATA is partially responsible for project oversight, and John Thomas, the project manager for the New York Avenue infill station, is overseeing the station for WMATA.

The EIS process will include refining the Metro station location alternatives. All alternatives are on the table, including not building the station, our preferred option that would better benefit existing neighborhoods, and any other alternatives they might think of during the process. All station configurations — above ground, below ground, center platform, side platform, etc. — are also on the table.

There are two meetings coming up to inform the public about the EIS and the scope of the alternatives, the afternoon and evening of Feburary 10 at Cora Kelly Rec Center in Arlandria, 25 West Reed Ave, Alexandria.

To watch video of the PY Metro presentation from Tuesday's City Council Meeting, click here and go to docket item 21 (this will take you to 49:45 on the video). Presentation and discussion runs about 18 minutes.

(cross-posted to GreaterGreaterWashington)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Arlandrian News Round-Up: Transportation, more Transportation... and Other News

Cry, or shed a tier... The City approved the first tier of a special tax district, a $0.20 per $100 assessed value tax on Potomac Yard properties, that will help fund the in-fill Potomac Yard Metro station.  A second tier on the nearby Potomac Greens neighborhood is also part of the overall funding plan (though not approved).  This 2nd tier is highly contentious, and other, more diffuse options are being considered.  Vice Mayor Kerry Donley makes the case (Alex Times) that we must to be willing to pay for the modernization of our transportation infrastructure if we don't want to be left behind in the region.  He also opines, correctly, I think, that we the taxpayers will get a nice return on investment.

Roads are for all modes  At the last Transportation Planning Commission meeting, City staff fought the idea of taking a Complete Streets zoning ordinance amendment to City Council in favor of a less binding Resolution.  They worry a zoning ordinance amendment would not be flexible enough for some of Alexandria's narrow streets.  You would think a well-written ordinance would take different factors, like available right-of-way, into account.  If the City desires complete streets, they should make that policy binding, not just a general guideline. See more, as local blogger "Froggie" has a great write-up.  (Froggie's Blog)

BRT for you and me? I haven't seen a great write-up of this, but Alexandria received money as part of the stimulus package to install separated BRT (and hopefully eventual streetcar) lanes in the Route 1 Transportation Corridor. (NBC Washington)

Batter Up!  Georgetown Baseball and Softball is looking for a new place to play, and Pat Malone and Frank Fannon could be close to making our very own 4 Mile Run Park their new home plate as soon as 2014.  Whether or not you worry about losing public playing fields, you have to admit that it could be very good for Alexandria's biggest... and most neglected park.  (Del Ray Patch, Washington Post)

What's Up With Stream Restoration  The Four Mile Run Joint Task Force has a meeting and open house this Wednesday, Jan 26.  Located at the Fairlington Community Center (map).  See more details about the meeting here, though there's not too much info.  Head over and find out how 4 Mile Run stream restoration work is going!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Start Car-Sharing for free?

If enough folks in our area became ZipCar members, we'd have a ZipCar nearby. But even so, I've found this useful even though the closest cars are in Shirlington and Crystal City.

Zipcar DC Deal of the Day | Groupon Washington DC

For $30, today's Groupon gets you a one-year Zipcar membership and a $30 driving credit (a $115 total value). Urbanites who ordinarily hoof it, use public transit, or ride on the backs of men bred for transportation purposes can't resist the convenience of wheels-at-will without the hassles of car ownership.

Reserve an SUV with a ski-rack for a winter outing, a truck for heavy hauling, a hybrid for whale saving, or a coupe for couping; there are tons of models you can choose to drive. View vehicle availability online, and then reserve the car; Zipcars live in dozens of locations all over the city. The reservation includes driver's insurance and a gas card to fill up the tank. Reservations are billable by the hour or by the day, starting at $7 per hour and $69 per day, and reservations include 180 free miles per day. This Groupon covers the $25 membership sign-up fee in addition to your year’s membership (a $60 value) and a $30 driving credit. Click here to see complete rate info.

Signing up is easy; your Groupon will include simple instructions for redeeming on Zipcar's website. Anyone who doesn't meet Zipcar safe-driver requirements will not be eligible for membership but will receive a complete refund in one to two weeks. You must activate your Groupon within the next month—please note that your membership will automatically renew at the end of your year if you do not cancel it.

This Groupon is for new Zipcar clients only.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lynhaven’s Neighborhood Pizza and Sub Shop is About to Go Prime Time

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Marino’s Pizza and Subs, the carryout Italian food restaurant located on Jefferson Davis Highway at what would be Wesmond Drive, has applied for a special use permit to expand their footprint into a new, two-story sit-down restaurant attached and adjacent to the current location. Two members of the City’s urban planning staff, Jim Roberts and Katye Parker attended the January meeting of the Lynhaven Citizens Association to describe the project and hear feedback from the neighborhood.

Jim and Katye explained that the new restaurant is proposed to have 72 seats which requires a minimum of 18 parking spaces. Marino’s, with some modifications of their current parking lot will provide 13 parking spaces, one of which the city requires for deliveries. The owners have entered into an agreement with Inturias Auto across Wesmond for six additional parking spaces to be used in the evening. The carryout combined with the restaurant will have a total of six employees and continue the same hours of the current establishment: open until 1:00 a.m. on weeknights and 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Toward the end of the conversation, the engineer on the project introduced himself and clarified that the new sit-down restaurant will operate like a buffet rather than with table service and menus.

This elicited strong feelings from a packed Association meeting. The three main concerns were:

  • Trash: There are already concerns about trash in the neighborhood generated by patrons of Marino’s. Many were concerned that with an expanded restaurant, trash would become worse.
  • Hours of operation: Although the current carryout operation is open late at night, there were concerns among many present that the new format of the sit-down restaurant should not be allowed to operate until 1:00 and 2:00 a.m.
  • Parking: The largest concern was about parking. Many were concerned that the city-mandated 18 spaces did not seem like enough to support both the carryout and sit-down restaurant. The agreement with the neighboring auto repair shop is a good effort to minimize the parking impact on Lynhaven streets, but many were worried about the sustainability and permanence of that agreement. Finally, there was concern that the restaurant hasn’t considered that their six employees will need to park somewhere and the most likely place will be in our neighborhood.

Not all the comments were negative. Some suggested that the new sit-down format will lead to less trash in the neighborhood because people will be more likely to dispose of their trash there then to take it with them. And following the meeting, some wrote to express support of Marino’s as a small business looking to expand in tough economic times.

As a result of the conversation, Marino’s agreed to postpone their Development SUP application one month to allow for some time to further talk to the neighborhood (here is the March 1 Planning Docket showing this item). They and the city staff will attend the February meeting of the Lynhaven Citizens Association, scheduled for Monday, February 7th at 7:00 p.m. at Cora Kelly Rec Center. Comments can be sent to Joe Bondi, LCA President at, or to the city urban planners on the project, Jim Roberts ( and Katye Parker (

Write-up by Lynhaven Citizens Association President Joe Bondi