Potomac Yard Metro construction drags

Potomac Yard Metro construction drags
A rendering of the Potomac Yard Metro Station design. (Rendering/WMATA)

By Heather Hartzell | hhartzell@alextimes.com 

The Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group held a meeting on Aug. 5 to discuss updates on construction, permits and delays for the new Potomac Yard Metro Station.

At the meeting, city and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority representatives provided PYMIG and community members with summaries of Board of Architectural Review approvals the project has earned, details on permits that the project still requires and updates on construction – which appears to be behind schedule.

“Frankly, this summer we were not able to get the amount of work that we wanted to get done, done,” Fred Robertson, a project manager with WMATA, said. “… I think we were optimistic about what we could get done.”

According to Robertson, construction is behind because of delayed permit approvals. When questioned by Mayor Justin Wilson about the delay in permit approval, Daphne Kott, a project manager with the Department of Project Implementation, said that the project team had to comply with both city and state requirements. The team was required to submit plans, including a stormwater management plan, a health and safety plan and a soil management plan, before it was able to begin construction, Kott said.

The only major construction that has taken place thus far has been demolition of a playground near the construction site. Crews are scheduled to demolish the traffic circle on Potomac Greens Drive sometime this month.

At the meeting, Robertson presented pictures of the active construction sites and detailed traffic mitigation efforts, including temporary stop signs at the intersection of Potomac Greens Drive and Carpenter Road, that would be put in place during construction.

While the new station’s design has not been completely approved, the Board of Architectural Review approved various design elements at two meetings in July.

On July 10, the BAR approved the height, scale, footprint and architectural character of the project, and on July 24, the BAR approved the mass and scale of the piers and the mass and scale of the mezzanine and platform roofs.

The BAR approval process is ongoing, according to Kott.

“We still have to take lighting, the coding material, the glass material [to the BAR],” Kott said. “There’s a whole host of other details that need to be approved by BAR, but we’ve done this so that the contractor can order the materials that take a long lead time.”

Before the next BAR meeting, which will take place on Sept. 4, the city will host an architecture workshop, where the designers of the project will display a 3-D model of the station in order to let people see more of the elements inside and outside of the station.

Design plans have not been released for the station’s southern entrance.

On June 25, city council voted to simplify the design of the station’s southern pavilion to stay under $50 million. The funding for southwest access was part of the state’s package to attract Amazon to Northern Virginia. The new design of the East Glebe Road pavilion will be developed during the final site plan phase with input from staff and the community, according to a BAR staff report.

When discussing permitting at the meeting, the issue of the Potomac Yard wetlands came up several times.

The wetlands will be filled as soon as the State Water Control Board grants permission, according to Robertson. Until then, the wetlands area is open, Robertson said. The State Water Control Board meeting will take place on Sept. 6 in Sandston, Virginia.

According to Robertson, there is a wetlands restoration plan in place. When questioned about the potential damage to fledgling wildlife by a member of the audience, neither Kott nor Robinson had an answer.

For updates on the project, visit www.alexandriava. gov/potomacyardmetro.

(WMATA to build new headquarters on Eisenhower)