Friday, March 22, 2013

The $125,000 Model Metro Train Set

Can you see me now?
Testing the visual impact of
one proposed PY Metro Station location
The Washington Business Journal alerted us to a plan by the City of Alexandria to spend $125,000 to build computer and physical models of the three proposed Potomac Yard Metro locations (Alexandria to model Potomac Yard Metro alternatives). The decision whether to go ahead with the expenditure is before City Council at the March 27th legislative meeting.

According the staff request, the expense would be "from Potomac Yard Special Tax District Revenues will be used to assist in developing and evaluating mitigation options and strategies for the three Potomac Yard Metrorail Station alternatives." The models are needed, say staff, not as part of the Environmental Impact Study, but in order to complement that study with a view toward the aesthetic impact that the stations might have on the "view shed" of the George Washington Parkway:
"Because of the potential visual impacts of the three proposed Metrorail Station alternatives on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, it is recommended that a physical model and a computer model of the three station alternatives be developed in order to assist in understanding the visual impact of the three Potomac Yard Station alternatives."
In prior efforts to address the view of any proposed Metro from the GW Parkway, Alexandria sent up a series of trial balloons with which to gauge the visual impact (Potomac Yard Metro Balloon Testing to Begin Soon | Del Ray Patch). Using photographs of the balloons, a series of mock-ups were created (some of that was presented here). The proposed additional modelling would apparently that that effort much further.

We discussed the concerns that residents have had with the impact of any Metro Station on the Parkway before (Potomac Yard Metro opponents cite GW Parkway purity, cross-posted at Greater, Greater Washington). The issue centers from activists' concern over the National Park Service visual easement, as Poul Hoertel explained in one of several letters to the Alexandria Gazette-Packet:
"The City Council has de-facto committed to putting the Metro Station on a National Park scenic easement. Now that I bring that up, the conversation becomes more explicit telling me that the parkway is not worth saving, I could not disagree more. It is the genesis of what Alexandria is today, because the Historic District was created to protect it...
As the exiled duke said in Shakespeare’s As You Like it, “Tis true I have seen better days,” so it is today I feel totally exiled from the city I moved to 25 years ago. I feel deceived by the non-transparency and obfuscation in the adoption of the 2010 plan to put the metro on the scenic easement."
We're quite sympathetic to mitigating the environmental impact of the proposed Metro station. Even despite the enormous environmental plus it will be, future transit absolutely has to be planned sensitively. All of us involved in the Arlandrian, work diligently in various environmental restoration projects. And we do so tirelessly. When you have to beg and borrow to plant trees in what's too often an urban wasteland, it's hard not to bristle at such a huge expense that could go for so much other good, when maybe just some Legos would do. If we're going to buy ourselves our own Miniatur Wunderland, it should at least light up and run.

Prior Related Articles from The Arlandrian:

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