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)
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