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Alexandria leaders talk trains, cars and ‘Gondola 2.0’ options for Potomac Yard arena transportation plans

Map of Monumental Arena development (image courtesy of JBG SMITH)

Among all the hubbub about the Potomac Yard arena, there’s been one looming question: how would people travel to and from the new facility?

Transportation has been the key item of concern for both public critics of the project and many civic leaders. While Mayor Justin Wilson said the development will minimize parking to reduce the amount of people taking cars to the site, Metro General Manager Randy Clarke said the newly built Metro cannot handle the levels of arena traffic proposed in this development.

At a Town Hall hosted by the Del Ray Citizens’ Association (DRCA), city leaders spoke to both lingering questions and potential solutions being considered for the Potomac Yard arena’s transportation problems.

Stephanie Landrum, President and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said the city is working with Kimley Horn to create a transportation plan addressing:

  • How do we manage traffic during games and events, different from people coming to and from office or house?
  • How do we protect neighborhoods immediately adjacent where people will be traveling through?
  • How do we improve Route 1 multimodal improvements already in place with bus rapid transit?
  • How do we increase access to transit?

Landrum said the city is also looking into the viability of adding water taxi connectivity to Four Mile Run — though USGS data shows Four Mile Run is typically only around four feet deep.

“We’re looking at bigger ideas, like adding water taxi connectivity on Four Mile Run and how to best connect VRE and Amtrak to our Metro system,” Landrum said.

Katie Waynick, DRCA President, said the water taxi is an interesting consideration.

“Thanks for throwing out the water taxi,” Waynick said. “That was really exciting to see, [it’s] Gondola 2.0. It’s exciting to see different versions of transportation being looked at.”

State Sen. Adam Ebbin said that funding for Metro is a prerequisite for any discussion of the new Potomac Yard arena. Ebbin said he would be examining the transportation plans carefully before making a decision on whether or not to support the arena in the General Assembly.

Potential transportation improvements being considered near the Potomac Yard arena (image via Alexandria Economic Development Partnership)

A map of the area in the slide show includes potential transportation improvements being considered along Route 1, including:

  • Added turn lanes at multiple intersections to improve site access
  • Additional lanes on Slater’s Lane between Route 1 and Powhatan Street, with an intersection reconfiguration at Slater’s Lane and Route 1
  • Complete streets implementation, traffic calming, and resident parking protections in nearby neighborhoods

Earlier today, the City of Alexandria announced a full public engagement schedule to run through the end of March, with a meeting specifically on transportation concerns and traffic management on Thursday, Feb. 1.

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