The old Robinson Terminal North, once the abrupt northern end to the Old Town waterfront, is no more.
Demolition was mostly wrapped up this weekend after a quick tear-down, and the plan is to make the location part of the broader effort to reform Old Town’s sewer system called the RiverRenew program.
“Behind me is the Robinson Terminal North warehouse,” said Kelvin Coles, deputy design manager for the RiverRenew program, in a video. “Many residents and visitors will recognize this large steel building as the dividing landmark between Oronoco Bay park and Founders Park.”
The property a coal storage facility, along with other industrial uses, and ultimately a Washington Post shipping hub before it was decommissioned in 2013.
The property is adjacent to outfall 1, one of four sewer outfalls in Old Town that is the subject of the combined sewer system overhaul. On average, there are around 30 overflow events at outfall 1 alone. The plan is to build a diversion facility to direct the outflow into a tunnel.
Scene from my Sunday Morning Run: One less warehouse on Alexandria’s waterfront.
Robinson Terminal North is no more. pic.twitter.com/O28vdFjwPk
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) November 22, 2020
Construction on the new project is expected to begin in spring 2021 and continue through winter 2024. The facility will be mainly below ground once complete.
Above ground, the plan is to extend Pendleton Street into a promenade. The program is planned to feature benches and potential space for programming.
Pendleton Street Extension image via RiverRenew
(Updated 2 p.m.) The sweeping RiverRenew project being helmed by Alexandria Renew Enterprises has some new forward momentum with a contract awarded yesterday (Tuesday).
The AlexRenew Board of Directors met yesterday to award a contract to build the RiverRenew Tunnel System to Traylor-Shea Joint Venture, a team specializing in tunnel projects that recently completed the 4.5-mile-long, 23-foot-wide Blue Plains Tunnel in D.C.
The project is part of compliance with a 2017 Virginia law that requires Alexandria to overhaul the city’s combined sewer system, which has been dumping 130 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River every year. The city is required to complete the overhaul by July 1, 2025.
AlexRenew has been working on implementing the program since 2018.
Earlier this year, AlexRenew said COVID was unlikely to adversely affect the timeline of the project, but cut back on a planned utility rate increase.
Photo via Alexandria Renew Enterprises/Facebook
Beyer Says Biden Needs Support — “President-Elect Biden must be given all the support he needs to take the helm of government, including swift consideration and confirmation of his team, so that he can take the country forward. We have no time to lose – there is serious work to be done.” [Twitter]
Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter Was on Jeopardy — “This picture is from years ago when I had the opportunity of a lifetime to appear on Jeopardy and personally meet Alex Trebek. He was as warm and engaging as you would think he was. Today we mourn his loss. He was a television icon and philanthropist who left the world a much better place. My heart goes out to the Trebek family and to the families of all who have been impacted by this terrible disease.” [Facebook]
City Recommends Celebrating a Virtual Thanksgiving — “The City and the AHD strongly urge those celebrating Thanksgiving to choose lower risk activities to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks, rather than the traditional indoor gatherings and traveling.” [Twitter]
City Tearing Down Robinson Terminal North — “AlexRenew is demolishing the building as part of its much larger plans to improve Alexandria’s sewer and stormwater infrastructure.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria’s Tree Lighting Goes Virtual on Nov. 21 — “Alexandria’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony that rings in the holiday season will be a little different this year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event that usually takes place at Market Square will be held online on Saturday, Nov. 21.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Areas of patchy fog early. Partly cloudy skies. High 72F. Winds light and variable. A few clouds overnight. Areas of patchy fog. Low 54F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Development and Communications Specialist — “The Campagna Center’s (TCC) Development Specialist plays a vital role in ensuring that TCC’s donors feel good about their giving. The individual will act as the first point of contact for stewardship activities and donor requests, always presenting an amicable demeanor, a can-do attitude, and appropriately reflecting TCC’s mission and values.” [Indeed]
The New York City-based property owner of the 65-acre Potomac Yard property will present plans to the Alexandria Planning Commission donate 4.5 acres for an extension of Potomac Yard Park.
The extension is part of Virginia Tech’s massive Innovation Campus development, and the contribution by property owner CPYR Theater, LLC includes handing over responsibility for a pump station that will handle sanitary sewer flows for Virginia Tech’s Sewer to Wastewater Energy Exchange system.
The pump station will be owned and maintained by AlexRenew.
The plans go before the commission on December 1.
The extension includes green spaces, public art, stone walls, walkways, benches and a play area for kids. Plans also call for tree and shrub plantings, in addition to a fitness station, bike rack and bike station.
Images via City of Alexandria
City Opening Second Round of Small Business Loans — “Starting tomorrow @AlexandriaEcon will begin accepting applications for another $2.4M of grants for our small businesses. This is the second round of “Back to Business Grants” designed to aid business recovery. Apply online!” [Twitter]
Residents Invited to Join RiverRenew Advisory Committee — “AlexRenew is seeking a balanced and diverse group of citizens representing neighborhoods, businesses, and various interests who commit to being active and engaged in the stakeholder process.” [Zebra]
Deadline Today for Studio Space at Torpedo Factory — “The deadline to apply for studio space is September 30! Time is running out! Visit torpedofactory.org/artopps now for the quick application. Open to all visual artists ages 21+.” [Twitter]
Immanuel Church Pumpkin Patch Returning October 4 — ” The Immanuel Church on-the-Hill’s Pumpkin Patch is back! The Pumpkin Patch has been held each October for 27 years. The 2020 version is open every day from Oct. 4-31. Mondays to Fridays are noon to 6 p.m. and weekends are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.” [Zebra]
Myron Mixon’s Reopening in Old Town October 1 — “The restaurant, at 220 N. Lee Street near the Old Town waterfront, made its announcement Monday night. The restaurant’s namesake is a four-time world barbecue champion, cookbook author, television host and more. The Alexandria restaurant opened in early 2017.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 71F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Clear (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: ACPS Communications Specialist — “Responsible for researching, developing, implementing and evaluating communications for special projects to include capital projects, facilities projects, communication projects and projects that support schools, departments and the superintendent.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Realtors Predict Strong Summer — “The first few months of 2020 were very strong in the local real estate market. Contracts slowed significantly in the second half of March and in April, said Dave Hawkins, COO of McEnearney Associates, before the rebound started in May. June should be even stronger for local real estate activity.” [Alexandria Living]
St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School and Goodwin House Embark on Senior Companion Program — “They talk like old friends, but they have never met in person; three months ago, they didn’t even know about each other.” [Washington Post]
Bicycle Shops Report Sales Increase Amid Pandemic — “Alexandrians have been flocking to bicycle shops in recent months, looking to stay fit, avoid public transportation and have fun while social distancing. As a result of the increased demand, bike shops are among the few retailers that have flourished during the pandemic.” [Alex Times]
AlexRenew’s FY 2021 Budget Affected by COVID-19 — “The FY21 budget includes reductions in operational expenses, deferral of capital projects, and a reduction in the previously-approved rate increase of 11 percent to 6.6 percent.” [Zebra]
City Shares Resources to Cope With Racism-Related Trauma — “There are links to mental health counseling, virtual therapy, and meditation.” [Zebra]
Houses of Worship Consider Reopening — “For some churches, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Old Town, the risk of giving the Eucharist contributed to the decision not to reopen.” [Alex Times]
Mount Vernon Estate Reopens to the Public — “Your safety and the safety of our staff is paramount as we open our doors again. There will be additional safety measures in place when you visit to limit the spread of the coronavirus.” [Alexandria Living]
New Job: Design Center Manager — “Must have experience as a florist.” [Indeed]
(Updated 4:25 p.m.) Local wastewater management service Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew) is still going to need that $370 to $555 million for the massive upcoming infrastructure project, but due to COVID-19 the organization is cutting down the planned utility rate increase.
“Recognizing the impact COVID-19 has had on the Alexandria community, AlexRenew has updated its previously planned budget, which included an 11% rate increase that was approved last year to support RiverRenew, a state-mandated program to address Alexandria’s combined sewer pollution,” AlexRenew said in a press release. “While an increase is still necessary to support the project, AlexRenew has reduced its rate increase to 6.6%, which will go into effect July 1.”
The utility service said that the average residential customer could see an average monthly bill increase of less than $3 per month with this approved increase.
The reduction comes amid widespread job loss that’s hit Alexandria harder than some of its neighbors, like Arlington. Ongoing construction, and a state-manded 2025 deadline, means that AlexRenew can’t eliminate the bill increase entirely.
“The updated Fiscal Year 2021 budget will allow AlexRenew to continue essential operations to clean wastewater while fulfilling its commitment to complete RiverRenew, a state-mandated program to address Alexandria’s combined sewer pollution, by the 2025 deadline,” Alexrenew said. “To continue the needed investment in this construction program, parts of which are currently underway and the bulk of which will be awarded this December, a rate increase is needed.”
After it came to light that the city was dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River, the state required Alexandria to completely reform its sewer system by 2025. The city has assigned that task to Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), which in been pushing forward with RiverRenew — the largest infrastructure project in Alexandria’s history.
AlexRenew also announced that the RiverRenew project has also earned low-interest loans through state and federal programs. Additionally, in April 2019, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated a $25 million grant in support of RiverRenew. The organization also made internal cuts, like freezing pay increases for staff, hiring freezes, reducing discretionary spending and deferring capital projects.
“We understand the impact COVID-19 has had on the lives of Alexandrians, and we have adapted to continue to serve our community 24/7/365 by keeping our community healthy through cleaner waterways,” says Karen Pallansch, AlexRenew CEO. “AlexRenew remains focused on fulfilling its vital mission to manage wastewater and improve the waterways that connect us.”
Top photo via Alexandria Renew Enterprises/Facebook
A global pandemic is not stopping forward progress on RiverRenew, a project that aims to overhaul the city’s sewer infrastructure that is annually dumps 11 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River.
The project is the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history, with a price tag that increased last year to an estimated $464 million. The project recently cleared its environmental assessment by the National Park Service that was required because portions of the project run through Jones Point Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway and the bed of the Potomac River.
“The National Park Service (NPS) has completed an environmental assessment for Alexandria Renew Enterprises’ (AlexRenew) proposed RiverRenew project,” AlexRenew said in a press release. “The NPS (Regional) Acting Director… signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the RiverRenew environmental assessment on April 14, 2020.”
This #TunnelTakeoverTuesday, AlexRenew and the National Park Service announced the Finding of No Significant Impact…
The environmental assessment outlined several points of concern, like potential erosion and sediment, damage to historic parks, and noise generation. In each of these instances, however, the “no action” alternative that would result in continued dumping of sewage was considered more damaging and would violate legislation requiring the city to take action.
City Manager Mark Jinks said in a recent budget meeting that the project, being managed by AlexRenew, is not impacted by cuts made in the city’s budget.
The press release said that construction is planned to start this December — slightly earlier than had been initially scheduled — and is expected to last through mid-2025.
Image via National Park Service
Lead in Soil Near Oronoco Bay Park — “Research for the Combined Sewer Overflow remediation project uncovered a mysterious cache of lead along the waterfront… It was during exploration at CSO-001, the outfall near Oronoco Bay Park, that RiverRenew came across the lead… RiverRenew is taking extra precautions to remove the impacted soil.” [Alexandria Times]
T.C. Teacher Goes Extra Mile — T.C. Williams 11th grade English teacher Corrina Reamer, who teaches immigrant and international students with limited English proficiency, has raised money for a library of 1,000 books “so her students would learn to love reading.” [Washington Post]
Mag Lists Alexandria Traffic Concerns — “In the past month, we asked Alexandria residents to answer this question: ‘What is your biggest concern about transportation and/or commuting in the Alexandria area, and what do you think should be done to make it better?’ Here are the responses we received.” [Alexandria Living]
Local Robotics Team Advances to State Tourney — “The St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Upper School robotics team Thunderstone advances to states! They competed January 11-12 at the Salem Qualifier and finished the day as the top-ranked team and captained the winning alliance.” [Zebra]
During an update at the City Council meeting on Dec. 10 (Monday), Mayor Justin Wilson said the price will be towards the upper end of the $370 to $555 million price range.
“We’ve been able to refine the pricing… the numbers do not ever get smaller, they get bigger,” Wilson said. “The current estimate is around $464 million. Those numbers have gone up.”
The massive infrastructure project — the largest in the city’s history — was an unfunded mandate from the state legislature. The state will require Alexandria to completely overhaul its centuries-outdated sewer system by July 1, 2025, to prevent sewage from flowing into the Potomac River during rainstorms.
The good news, for Alexandria, is that since the initial mandate the state has started putting some funding into the project. The General Assembly adopted a budget earlier this year that included $25 million for the project. This year, Wilson said the city government is back requesting $75 million more.
“We will hear in a couple of weeks whether there’s money in the governor’s budget,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Wilson said three design-build teams have been shortlisted for the project, and will have to submit proposals for the project by Feb. 11. From there, Wilson said it will be a pretty quiet year in terms of news on the project as Alexandria Renew Enterprises chooses who is awarded the contract. The goal, Wilson said, is to have a design selected by December 2020.
“We still have a substantial amount of work to do,” Wilson said, “[but we’ve] made a lot of progress.”
Photo via Alexandria Renew Enterprises/Facebook