(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) During the celebration of the grand opening of the Potomac Yard Metro Station, electrician Antonio Jones looked up at the structure he and countless other laborers worked on over the last few years.
For him and other members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — as much as for the city staffers, transportation executives and elected leaders from across the region in attendance — today (Friday) was a day of triumph: the Potomac Yard Metro station is finally open.
“It feels good,” Jones told ALXnow. “I couldn’t wait to come out here and be a part of it. It’s bittersweet; in construction, you work yourself out of a job. But we worked vigorously to get it here on time. I get to ride past and tell my children I worked on this.”
It was a day that seemed like it might never get here. After years of groundwork laid to have the new station built, it was a project plagued with delays that pushed the opening back more than a full year past the original planned opening. But, to thematically appropriate songs like “I Will Survive” and “Don’t Stop Believing,” today’s ribbon-cutting was a celebration.
It was a who’s-who of elected officials, including Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with the 8th District’s Congressman Don Beyer and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.
WMATA Board chair Paul Smedberg, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Jennifer DeBruhl, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Chair Phyllis Randall, and Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands were all on stage for the ceremony.
Beyer noted particular excitement about the nearby Virginia Tech campus, calling it the “MIT or Carnegie Mellon of the 21st century.” Warner repeatedly referenced with hope that the station could be connected to the — still very undetermined — new FBI Headquarters in Springfield that Warner and other Virginia leaders have been advocating for.
For Alexandrians, though, the station was in-and-of-itself something to celebrate.
“What a great day to be an Alexandrian,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “I’m now the sixth Alexandria Mayor to get up and wait to say these words: Alexandria, your Potomac Yard Station is open.”
Randy Clarke, WMATA General Manager and CEO, noted that 1,300 riders had already passed through the station before the official ribbon-cutting today, and Wilson said he was “so excited I went through the turnstile 1,300 times.”
“We talk a lot about in this business about the L-word: Legacy,” Wilson said. “For the past three and a half years, this site has been the workplace of hundreds of tradespeople. They have come to work every day under some of the worst conditions: a pandemic, rain, snow. They put in long hours and put decades of training to the test. But today, their legacy begins.”
Wilson also credited city staff, partners who helped finance the project, and Alexandrians at large.
“To countless Alexandrians who believed in this project when almost nobody else did: this is your legacy,” Wilson said. “This is your station. This station is going to change lives forever and we made it happen together.”
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