Letter to the Editor: Best Practices Not Followed

Letter to the Editor: Best Practices Not Followed

The plan for a new Potomac Yard Metro Station has a few troubling characteristics.

The site for the construction of this Metro station called Site B is only accessible from a long, quiet and child friendly residential street. The construction project is planned to disrupt this neighborhood street for an estimated two years.

Site B is currently a large wetland abutting National Park that is full of turtles, snakes, diverse birds and, according to local residents, beavers.

The current Metro tracks which are associated with the planned station are located on one side of a cliff that is 20-25 feet above the Site B wetland. In order to build a station, the builders may have to dump 1000s of large truckloads of fill into the wetland site and then grade the site to create a level road and staging area for the construction of the station.

There was a proposal for a Site A, which is level with the tracks already and does not require burying a large wetland in order to be built. Access to Site A does not include the same disruption to a neighborhood street.

The expense associated with the Site B plan will cause Alexandria to go from .2 to .4 billion dollars deeper into debt.

In July 2017, an agreement was made between the Alexandria city manager and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to modify the proposed Site B station design in order to remove one of the station’s access points. The public and the neighborhood that the access point was to serve were kept in the dark until recently.

While running for office, I have promoted bringing to Alexandria the best practices of our surrounding jurisdictions of citizen engagement, data transparency and accountability. If Alexandria had adopted these best practices, this nine month old agreement would have come to light much earlier. More Alexandrians would have time to process this and other aspects of this proposal.

Because implementing proposals like this station can be so complex, the more informed our citizens are, the more we can include their input, recruit their expertise and better shape Alexandria’s future together.

Robert Ray