On Saturday, the Council took the final vote on a new vision for redeveloping the north area of Potomac Yard. This process started more than two years ago when Councilman Justin Wilson and I proposed that we link any new development in Potomac Yard to the creation of a new metro station. This concept was enshrined in the citys transportation master plan. At the time, there was a lot of doubt that we could create a project where the developer essentially paid for the metro. But here we are, with a plan that accomplishes that and much more.
The Potomac Yard project has been under public review for more than two years and has been developed by a citizen-led group and approved unanimously by the Planning Commission. Members of the Sierra Club and the city environmental committee have been actively involved because this is such a green project. It is probably one of the most environmentally friendly projects we have ever done both because of its reliance on mass transit as well as for its best-practice water management, green buildings and green roofs (which reduce heat island issues).
As our region becomes more urban, we have to build urban transportation systems. Cars just wont cut it. Cut-through traffic and regional traffic already clog our roads. We need new systems of transportation to carry us into the future. This project gives us a great opportunity to build new transportation systems and reduce our reliance on cars. Areas of Arlington with similar densities have more than 80 percent of the nearby residents who dont use cars for transportation. Areas of Arlington with similar density have actually seen a decrease in car traffic as more residents use mass transit.
I understand there are different views about density, but Id point out that Arlington is already building this kind of development right on the boarders of Potomac Yard, forcing us to address our need for non-car transportation solutions. Creating a way to build the transportation system that will enable us to address our needs is critical to our citys future. This project will support a new metro station as well as a dedicated high-capacity bus or trolley transportation system that will run from Braddock Road to the Pentagon. These two new transit systems are essential pieces of Alexandrias transportation master plan.
This will be one of the most economically and environmentally friendly projects in the region and I think will be something in which we will all have pride. The project will build a new school, new parks, new transit (a metro and a new high capacity transit line), new performing arts space and will provide a number of other amenities from which our city will benefit.
In addition, the tax revenues generated by this project will support the whole community for decades to come. When the city bond rating agencies were briefed on this project, they considered it a very good project that would improve our citys financial situation for a long time to come.
This is a bold, visionary plan for our city. It will garner positive recognition for Alexandria and produce something of which we will all be proud. Im looking forward to seeing this great vision take shape.
The writer is a member of the Alexandria City Council.