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The Potomac Yard Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s finally here: the Potomac Yard Metro station officially opened last week.

City, state and federal officials gathered with workers who had labored on the station for years for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday.

Last year, Metro ridership was slow to climb back from the low levels of ridership during the pandemic. New reports earlier this year showed the Metro system hit a post-pandemic peak in March, though general ridership numbers remain at around half where it was pre-pandemic.


(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.”

It was also a somber moment as city leaders remembered former mayors Kerry Donley and Patsy Ticer, advocates for Potomac Yard who didn’t live to see the station opening.

“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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Good Monday morning, Alexandria!

Today’s weather: Passing showers. Overcast. Mild. High of 66 and low of 53.
Tomorrow: Rain. Cloudy. Mild. High of 71 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:01 am and sunset at 8:07 pm.

🚨 You need to know

After eight months, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority reopened it’s yellow line on Sunday. The line has been out of service since September to allow work on the Potomac River tunnel and bridge.

“The work included replacing over 1,000 individual steel plates held together by more than 12,000 bolts in the tunnel and replacing 88 bearings on the bridge,” according to WMATA. “The project also upgraded the fire suppression system on the 3,000-foot bridge and removed and replaced miles of critical communications cables used by multiple regional partners.”

📈 Friday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for May 5, 2023.

  1. Giant Food on Duke Street adapts to shoplifting increase by locking one of its front doors (858 views)
  2. Notes: APD ‘determined’ to reduce crime near Braddock Road Metro after more shots fired (829 views)
  3. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria (798 views)
  4. Just Listed in Alexandria | ALXnow (129 views)

🗞 Other local coverage

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

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Alexandria City Hall (staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Personal security cameras, speed cameras in school zones, summer youth employment programs and eviction prevention funding are just a few of the final additions included in the fiscal year 2024 budget by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday.

Council approved funding a $20,000 program to encourage businesses and homeowners with a “small incentive” to set up security cameras to deter crime, as well as increase their coordination with the Alexandria Police Department.

“I like the concept,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “I think we want our residents to partner with us in providing this kind of neighborhood visibility.”

Other additions include $490,000 for five speed cameras at school crossing zones around the city. Last year, Council approved $400,000 for the speed camera program in five school zones.

Not all of the requests made the final cut. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson’s request to give the Alexandria Commission for Women $20,000 for it’s 50th anniversary event failed to gain consensus.

Council also took $657,629 from the budget that was intended for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street), pending proposals from City Manager Jim Parajon to find alternative uses for the facility, pursue regional partnerships for facility use and optimize capacity for the underutilized space.

The full list of additions to the budget are below.

  • Out of School Time Program (OSTP) staffing ($200,000) This increases paid leave and benefits for part-time staffing with the city’s Out of School Time program.
  • Fee waiver for OSTP participants ($15,000) — This would fund a waiver for program participants eligible for SNAP and TANF.
  • Speed cameras in school zones ($490,000) — This adds five photo speed cameras to school crossing zones prioritized by the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services
  • Childcare services ($50,000) — This will provide child-minding services at City COuncil town hall events, as well as select board, committee and commission meetings.
  • Additional eviction prevention funding ($150,000) — This would increase the current funding level of $100,000, all of which will “reasonably assist 40 households in FY24,” according to the city.
  • Central coordinator for immigrant affairs/refugee settlement ($110,000) — This would explore a new position or series of positions that could advance efforts to connect immigrant communities with information, resources and services and address the city’s challenges with immigrant populations.
  • RPCA Mental Health Pilot position ($75,000) — These funds would go toward developing a Department of Recreation Parks and Cultural Activities pilot program for youth mental health services.
  • Summer youth employment program ($214,943) — This would expand the program by 50%, to serve 255 children (85 more than the current program).
  • Study for local housing voucher program ($250,000) — This would add funding for a study on a voucher-like program that stabilizes housing and enables access for low-income housholds across the city’s private rental market.
  • City library security ($70,000) — This funding maintains library security staffing at current levels.
  • Department of Aging and Adult Services ($19,000) — This fills the gap created by Virginia budget formula changed related to the Older Americans Act.
  • DASH service line expansion on Line 33 ($120,000) — This would expand DASH Line 33 service from once every 60 minutes to 30 minutes on Sundays, easing connections to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station.
  • Visit Alexandria advertising ($78,000) — This additional funding can be used by Visit Alexandria for any sort of media, online or print advertising, either regionally or nationally at their discretion.
  • City Council aide compensation increase ($5,300) — This is a 2% scale compensation adjustment.
  • Private security camera incentive program ($20,000)
  • Continuation of AEDP economic recovery manager ($147,208) — The ERPM is responsible for creating and administering AEDPs Business Association Grant program, which supports Alexandria business associations as well as other ARDP rogramming to promote economic recovery.
  • Rental inspection program enhancement ($136,000) — This allows staff to evaluate non-compliant multi-family rental properties.

The budget will be approved on May 3 and go into effect on July 1.


After more than a year of delays, the Potomac Yard Metro Station will open on Friday, May 19, Mayor Justin Wilson announced today.

Wilson made the announcement alongside Randy Clarke, general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority. He said that the city has been pushing to make the station a reality for more than a generation.

“On Friday, May 19, this station is going to open up to serve the public,” Wilson said. “That is an incredible accomplishment and one that is only possible because of this incredible team of city staff, of WMATA staff, of  the contractor, all of our state partners, our federal partners who have made this happen.”

The $370 million project has seen its share of delays. It was initially scheduled to open in April 2022, but Clarke didn’t want to discuss the delay.

“I came to announce that today we’re opening on May 19,” Clarke said.

Clarke said that the station was first envisioned in 1983, when the Huntington station first opened.

“We’re happy to be partners with the city to accelerate economic development, bring more housing, bring more opportunity to deal with sustainability and equity, all the things that the city of Metro share as goals for both the city and the region,” Clarke said.

Wilson said that the project hits a number of policy areas for the city.

“This is our biggest economic development initiative,” Wilson said. “This is our biggest transportation initiative. This is our biggest Climate Initiative. This is our biggest infrastructure initiative. This is a huge initiative for the city and it hits so many different policy areas for us as a community, and that’s why we’re really excited.”

The station is located next door to Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus, which is slated to open the first of three academic buildings in 2024. The Potomac Yard Shopping Center is also under massive development.

City Manager Jim Parajon said that the station is a critical factor for Alexandria’s continued economic growth.

“I think this work is signature to our economic development growth,” he said. “You already see it with Virginia Tech’s Innovation campus and some of the office development occurring right around the station… Economic growth helps pay for the services that our community needs and wants. It’s an amazing station and I’m looking forward to May 19.”

City Council Member Sarah Bagley said that the station is a dream realized for many residents.

“I think it means that we can do things we put our minds to, and that long expensive things are worth it,” Bagley said. “From an inclusivity perspective it’s wonderful. We’re going to have all these exciting buildings here. There’s healthcare here, there’s education here, and people will be able to access that.”

Council Member Alyia Gaskins said that the station will bring a lot of commerce to the City.

“When i think about this station I think about everything that’s going on around it, from Virginia Tech to the National Societies for the Blind to the Potomac Yard community,” Gaskins said. “This is an opportunity for us to bring people here, to have them experience our city and to stop and linger in some of these great developments that are happening.”

Council Member Canek Aguirre said that the art at the station will also bring visitors. Much of the art for the station has not yet been chosen and WMATA has to go through a request for proposal process.

“I’m super excited,” Aguirre said. “This is gonna be a destination site, and people are going to come just to be able to take pictures of the station and especially the artwork.”

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said that the station is an exciting development.

“Tourism and retail in general will see lots of business,” she said. “Folks will come down and be able to get off here and go to the restaurants, see our Virginia Tech campus and more. It’s very exciting.”

King Street Metro at sunset (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The big announcement this week was the return of the Yellow Line.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced this week that the Yellow Line will open again on Sunday, May 7.

The line had been out of service since September as WMATA worked on repairs to the Potomac River tunnel and bridge. The reopening of the Yellow Line will provide another connection to D.C. after months of riders forced to take the Blue Line.

The reopening is another step forward for Metro in Alexandria, coming after the city was completely cut off from the Metro network for two months last year.

There’s still one major advance on the horizon, though: WMATA confirmed to ALXnow this week that the Potomac Yard station is still on track to open sometime in May.

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Train going through Potomac Yard Metro station (image via WMATA/Twitter)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced last year that the Potomac Yard Metro station would open in May and, as of early April, WMATA says that’s still the case.

A project being on-schedule isn’t typically noteworthy, but the Potomac Yard project has infamously faced repeated delays. The project is now scheduled to open a little over a year after the original plan to open in April 2022.

There was no mention of Potomac Yard in the recent Yellow Line reopening announcement, but in an email to ALXnow, a WMATA official said the station’s opening is on schedule for an opening next month.

“The Potomac Yard Station remains on schedule,” Media Relations Manager Sherri Ly said. “The opening will be separate from the Yellow Line Bridge and Tunnel reopening. We’ll make an announcement once we have a date.”

The Yellow Line, meanwhile, is scheduled to open back up on Sunday, May 7, a little over a month from today. The Yellow Line had been closed since September for maintenance work on the Potomac River tunnel and bridge.

There were promising signs last fall that showed significant progress on the station: the first train passed through the station late last year.

The artwork for the station was revealed earlier this year. Artist Rob Ley said the exteriors will be covered in halftone dots meant to evoke bluebells and cherry blossoms.

Image via WMATA/Twitter


After eight months, Alexandrians will finally be able to take the Yellow Line again.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced today that the Yellow Line will open again on Sunday, May 7, at the start of rail service.

The line has been out of service since September to allow work on the Potomac River tunnel and bridge.

According to the release:

Metro is welcoming customers back to the Yellow Line on Sunday, May 7, 2023, beginning with the start of rail service at 7 a.m. The reopening will mark the completion of extensive rehabilitation work on the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

Following eight months of construction for safety critical repairs, customers will once again have a reliable and convenient connection across the Potomac River between Virginia and DC, instead of only using the Blue Line. This will reduce travel times by as much as 15 minutes and give customers back valuable time. Initially, trains will run every 8 minutes weekdays and every 12 minutes after 9:30 p.m. and on weekends between Huntington and Mt Vernon Square.

“I want to thank our customers for their patience while we completed this critical work to ensure safe, reliable service for decades to come,” said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke. “I’m also very proud and thankful to the dedicated women and men who worked to deliver this complex project on schedule and on budget.

Construction crews have worked around the clock since September to mitigate water intrusion in the decades-old, steel-lined tunnel and replace aging bridge bearings and expansion joints. The work included replacing over 1,000 individual steel plates held together by more than 12,000 bolts in the tunnel and replacing 88 bearings on the bridge. The project also upgraded the fire suppression system on the 3,000-foot bridge and removed and replaced miles of critical communications cables used by multiple regional partners.

Potomac Yard south pavilion artwork by Rob Ley (image via WMATA)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has unveiled the bluebell and cherry blossom-inspired art that will wrap around the exterior of the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

Artist Rob Ley spoke about the designs at a reception hosted by the City of Alexandria back in January.

The artwork uses a technique called halftone to create the impression of a field of bluebells around the south pavilion and cherry blossoms above the entrance to the north pavilion.

“The imagery is vague in the way it shows up, this is for a reason,” Ley explained. “People ask ‘if you’re going to make imagery, why don’t you make it more visible so I can see the flower directly.’ There’s kind of a reason for this. While I’m well aware it’s more satisfying because you say it’s about flowers so I want to see the bluebells, I think there’s something to be said for the longevity.”

Ley explained that non-literal artwork can evolve with the understanding of the viewer.

“I had a teenager come up to me: he saw a project [I worked on] when he was five and he saw clouds,” Ley said. “When he was about 13, he said he saw it again and could see the river. That touched me. The point is not for it to be so vague you see nothing, but not so literal that you see it once and then it fades into the background.”

Potomac Yard north pavilion artwork by Rob Ley (image via WMATA)

While any public art has to contend with the forces of nature, Ley said human interference is the bigger concern. The artwork is elevated to deliberately be kept out of reach to avoid transit riders taking a souvenir of the station home.

“My responsibility is to create something that’s beautiful and looks delicate,” Ley said, “but at the heart of what it is, it’s typical and durable.”

WMATA is hoping for May 2023 as the opening date for the station.

Alexandria City Hall was lit up for the weekend of Juneteenth 2021 (via Carol Jean Stalun Photography for Visit Alexandria)

Alexandria has kicked off the new year with a glimpse at some of this year’s biggest priorities.

A memo from Director of Planning Karl Moritz, published ahead of Planning Commission meeting this Thursday, lays out some of the work priorities for the city over the upcoming year.

Planning and Zoning

There are some major items on the plate for Planning and Zoning, most of which involve updating some of the city’s older outdated plans for locations around the city.

  • Alexandria West Plan: With some major developments reshaping the West End over the coming year, the city launched last fall an 18-month planning process for a large swath of the neighborhood. The process includes updates to the 1992 Alexandria West Small Area Plan and the 2008 Beauregard Plan, combining them into a sort of super-plan for the West End. According to the memo, priorities for that plan include “addressing topics such as equity, housing, mobility, land use, parks, infrastructure and safety.”
  • Zoning for Housing/Housing for All: Another major project that started late last year and will continue through 2023 is the city’s Comprehensive Zoning for Housing and Housing for All Package” — a whole-cloth review of the city’s housing policy to try to work affordability into regulations from the ground-up. In a previous memo, Moritz said the goal is to remove policies and regulations that were intended to support exclusion and segregation, as well as creating new more equitable policies and boost the supply of both committed and market rate affordable housing. The goal is to complete the plan by the end of 2023.
  • Vision Plan: This planning process will look at documenting and updating policies established in the various Small Area Plans dating back to 1992. This process is set to start this summer if staffing and resources are available.
  • Duke Street Plan Update: This land use update is set to follow some of the ongoing plans around transforming transportation along Duke Street.

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