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Alexandria leaders plan around upcoming Yellow Line shutdown

Construction work at Potomac Yard Metro station, photo via City of Alexandria

The WMATA monkey’s paw curls once more, and the planned opening of the Potomac Yard Metro station will coincide with a pair of shutdowns along the Yellow Line.

The first — and long-expected — shutdown will last from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22 as WMATA ties the new Potomac Yard Metro station in with the rest of the system. The shutdown will close all rail service south of Washington National Airport.

“Potomac Yard Station construction will require a six-week shutdown of rail service south of Washington National Airport station to build new tracks that ‘tie-in’ the new station with the existing Metrorail system,” a release from WMATA said. “Engineering, testing, and commissioning needed to integrate the track, power, communications and signal systems into the system will also be conducted during this time. This will be followed by additional testing and training to determine when service can begin.”

But even once the work on the Potomac Yard Metro station ends, it could be months longer before Alexandrians can take the Yellow Line into D.C. Rehab work on the Yellow Line Bridge across the Potomac River and work on the Pentagon and L’Enfant stations will shut down the crossing into D.C. for seven to eight months, WMATA said. The work is expected to be completed in spring 2023.

“In order to maintain a healthy system, Metro needs an aggressive capital program,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld in a release. “We will continue working with our regional partners to advance construction and rehabilitation projects that ensure a state of good repair for critical regional infrastructure. While service outages can be disruptive, we know they are foundational for maintaining safe and reliable service.”

The closure was discussed at the Alexandria City Council meeting last night (Tuesday), where local leaders acknowledged the closure will impact Alexandrians and outlined some mitigation efforts planned.

“Metro did make a significant announcement today regarding significant impacts to the service in our community beginning in September,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “Part of that is to accommodate the Potomac Yard metro, which obviously we’re very excited about and we knew some of that impact was coming, but part of that is a much more significant impact to the Yellow Line than we knew a year ago.”

Wilson said further conversations with WMATA and the city will likely start up in the spring. City Council member Canek Aguirre said discussions will also likely continue in the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission/WMATA sucomittee. Aguirre said there was some collaborative efforts that helped in the 2019 shutdown that could be revisited.

“We will have a conversation on this dais with WMATA and our staff probably in the May timeframe once they’ve had an opportunity to do some planning around accommodations,” Wilson said. “We will approach this just how we did last time: work with our partners, work with everyone, to ensure this is a success for our community, doesn’t negatively impact our residents and businesses any more than it has to be.”

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