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VDOT unveils transportation plans for new Potomac Yard arena

The proposed Potomac Yard arena could hold up to 20,000 people and those attendees have to get to the arena somehow.

A presentation prepared by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), City of Alexandria and Monumental Sports & Entertainment provided a glimpse at plans to handle that traffic.

The presentation noted that 300 events are planned each year, 40 of which will coincide with weekday rush hour. Of those, 50% are expected to get there by driving or through rideshare, while 50% are expected to get there via transit, bike or walking.

The peak need, the presentation said, is handling 2,800 extra cars.

For car traffic, the presentation said the plan is to:

  • Maximize Route 1 and Glebe Road throughput and efficiency
  • Minimize traffic through local streets
  • Create dedicated rideshare zones on and off-site
  • Ensure parking is on-site and protect nearby neighborhoods

The 2,800 new peak car trips account for around 6% of weekday volume on the road. The presentation said improvements planned for Route 1 include:

  • Expanded turning lanes to reduce backup
  • Dedicated through lanes for commuters
  • Dedicated turn lanes separating game day traffic from commuters and locals
  • Coordinated signals at intersections to move arena traffic off Route 1 and into the site
  • Dedicated parking on-site with queuing off Route 1

Meanwhile, the plan said satellite parking sites at the Huntington and Eisenhower Metro garages to the south and Crystal City or Pentagon City to the north will take some of the traffic, with attendees then taking Metro on that “last mile” to the arena.

The presentation said dedicated rideshare zones and queues are part of the plan for the site, similar to how that drop-off is separated at airports.

One of the biggest lingering questions has been how the Potomac Yard Metro Station — which General Manager Randy Clarke said cannot handle arena capacity — would hold up as one of the central pillars of the transportation plan.

The presentation outlined plans to add capacity to the station, with:

  • A widened bridge
  • Additional escalators
  • Added fare gates to cut down on ‘pinch points’ at the station

Lastly, the plan said that eventually Water Taxi access could be added out in the Potomac River and a new Virginia Railway Express station could be built nearby to reduce the burden on the Metro station.

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