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Construction work at Potomac Yard Metro station, photo via City of Alexandria

(Updated 6:50 p.m.) As the Potomac Yard Metro Station nears the finish line, WMATA representatives told Alexandria leaders at a meeting this week they’re trying to learn from previous mistakes and avoid fumbling the ball this close to the endzone.

Alexandria will be cut off from the rest of the Metro system from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22 while WMATA works to bring the Potomac Metro station in line. At a meeting of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group on Monday — where city staff also discussed additional commuter options — WMATA explained what will be going on inside the station during the shutdown.

The opening of the station was delayed by approximately half a year.

Fred Robertson, project manager for the Potomac Yard Metro station, said that starting on Sept. 10, WMATA will begin cutting the old track and working to install new track through the station.

Like Hernán Cortés burning his ships, WMATA said an early part of that work will involve cutting the existing rails connecting Alexandria to the rest of the Metro system, after which there’s no going back until the station opens.

“Let’s say you complete two weeks of work and testing doesn’t go well: at that point is the only option to go back to the other section of track?” Mayor Justin Wilson asked.

“There is no other section of track once we cut it,” Robertson said. “It’s gone.”

The cutover work is expected to last from Sept. 10-Sept. 28. From Sept. 28 to Oct. 22. Robertson said WMATA will be running tests on the systems, safe braking and more.

Trains will start moving through the station — but not stopping there — on Oct. 23.

Roberson also acknowledged that construction and testing will likely be disruptive to neighbors, with trains moving at all hours between National Airport and the Braddock Metro station. That will involve train horns and braking sounds extending even after hours.

“Let your HOA know: there’s nothing we can do about that,” Robertson said.

There’s no fixed date for when the station will fully open. WMATA would not commit to a specific date beyond the existing fall 2022 time. Construction will also likely continue through January even after the station opens, Robertson said.

One of the members of the group told Robertson that if anything changes and there is a delay, that information needs to be made public as quickly as possible.

“We talk about that often so as not to happen again,” Robertson said. “I bring it up all the time with the south entrance. I wasn’t a part of it, so I can say that.”

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While buses and trains are centerstage in efforts to replace Metro during an extended closure planned through earlier next year, Alexandria is also looking to bicycles and boats to help make up the difference.

Alexandria will be cut off from the rest of the Metro system from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22 as WMATA works to bring the Potomac Yard Metro station in line with the rest of the system. Then, from September through spring 2023, the Yellow Line Tunnel connecting Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations will be closed for repairs, forcing Alexandria commuters to loop up into D.C. through the Blue Line.

In a meeting of the Potomac Yard Metrorail Implementation Work Group on Monday, Thomas Hamed, an urban planner with the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), outlined some of the other methods the city is looking at to get commuters back and forth between Alexandria and D.C.

“Capital Bikeshare will be free for people coming to and from Alexandria,” Hamed said. “We will have a code with Capital Bikeshare operator Lyft to allow people who either live or work in Alexandria to use the Capital Bikeshare for free for any trip that comes to or from the city or within the city.”

The offer resembles bike share deals from previous Metro shutdowns, though Capital Bikeshare has been significantly expanding the number of bicycle docking stations around Alexandria.

Another commuter option used previously is the Potomac Water Taxi, which runs from the Old Town waterfront up to Georgetown and The Wharf or down to National Harbor. The Potomac Water Taxi is a private service, but Hamed said the City of Alexandria is working on partnering with them for increased service.

“We will be adding water taxi boats earlier in the morning,” Hamed said. “Right now, it’s a private service that starts later in the day and is geared mostly toward visitors to and from Alexandria. It’s not really practical for commuters. We partnered with them in 2019 to add boats [earlier in the morning] and we will be doing that again. We are working with the operator of the water taxi to throw in a little extra incentive.”

Someone in the room quipped that the incentive might be life jackets, but others suggested various types of alcoholic drinks might be an added boon.

One of the other Metro replacements planned is VRE, which will offer free rides throughout September throughout its system. A VRE representative at the meeting said the train will be free in October as well, but only for the Alexandria-Crystal City to L’Enfant section of the line.

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A 24-year-old Washington, D.C., man is behind bars without bond after allegedly altering prices and assaulting a Rack Room Shoes store clerk with pepper spray and making off with stolen footwear.

Jamison McNeil is being held without bond after being arrested on the evening of Wednesday, August 3. At around 7:30 p.m., McNeil allegedly left the Rack Room Shoes in Potomac Yard (3551 Richmond Highway) and was recorded by a store clerk leaving the store with stolen shoes. McNeil allegedly sprayed a store clerk with pepper spray while making a getaway, according to a search warrant affidavit.

McNeil allegedly drove away from the scene in a blue Hyundai IONIQ with temporary Maryland tags. That same car was also reported leaving a Best Buy store, and then a Chipotle restaurant in the same shopping center after McNeil and several suspects allegedly walked out without paying for their food.

McNeil was pulled over and told police that all of the stolen property was located in the blue Hyundai, according to the search warrant affidavit. He was charged with shoplifting/altering price tags for more than $1,000 worth of stolen merchandise, conspiracy to commit concealment of merchandise and multiple counts of petit larceny.

Via Google Maps

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Food was stolen from the the Dunkin’ restaurant at 3325 Richmond Highway on July 7, 2022. (Via Google Maps)

Alexandria Police are investigating an overnight burglary of the Dunkin’ restaurant at 3325 Richmond Highway in Potomac Yard.

The incident was one of at least three similar break-ins at Dunkin’ locations that occurred in the early morning of Thursday, July 7.

The Potomac Yard incident occurred at around 2 a.m. The suspects smashed the front door to gain entry and then stole food items, Alexandria Police said.

“Arlington County Police Department has assisted with this incident, by providing their K9 unit at the time the call for service was made,” APD told ALXnow. “Currently, no arrest have been made in connection with this incident.”

There were also burglaries at Dunkin’ locations in Fairfax County — in the 6800 block of Commerce Street in Springfield at around 3:45 p.m., and in the 1500 block of Belle View Boulevard at around 4:10 a.m.

It has not been confirmed that the break-ins were committed by the same suspects, and Fairfax County Police are also investigating the incidents.

Anyone with information on these cases can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

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Glebe Road and Potomac Avenue intersection (image via Google Maps)

With bus activity likely to see a significant uptick with the opening of the Potomac Yard Metro station, the city is looking at converting a turn lane on Glebe Road into a bus lane (item 5, page 8).

The plan has the dual purpose of benefitting buses and reducing the number of general-purpose lanes pedestrians have to cross.

“To support expanded bus operations and reduce the number of general purpose lanes pedestrians must cross, staff recommend converting the existing eastbound right-turn-only lane to a bus only-lane,” the report said, “and converting the existing eastbound left-turn-only lane to a left-turn and right-turn lane.”

The area has a higher-than-average number of blind pedestrians as well. The staff report said reducing the number of lanes for those pedestrians to cross could improve safety at the site.

“Currently, pedestrians must cross five lanes with limited protection from motor vehicles at the intersection of Potomac Avenue and Glebe Road,” the report said. “There is also a higher-than-average proportion of pedestrians with limited or no sight due to the proximity of the National Industries for the Blind.”

Glebe Road and Potomac Avenue intersection plans (image via City of Alexandria)

Staff said in a report that a traffic analysis estimated no change in traffic delays but could lead to more blocking of the intersection.

“Based on staff findings, there is no significant change in delay for the E. Glebe approach, and the overall intersection performs at an acceptable Level of Service grade B,” the report said. “However, it is important to note, given the proposed shared general-purpose lane on E. Glebe, the queue of vehicles stopped at the intersection is projected to extend just past the adjacent intersection at Dogue Street. This may lead to more occurrences in which vehicles block the intersection, impeding Dogue Street users.”

One of the alternatives considered included a shared bus-bike lane, but staff said adding bikes into the mix could lead to more crashes.

“Because of the expected potential conflicts between people biking, buses, and other motor vehicles as people biking inevitably attempt to maneuver around stopped buses, staff believed this option had a higher risk of crashes than other options,” the report said.

A dedicated bike lane was considered, but ultimately staff said the greater benefit would come from better transit infrastructure.

“Staff strongly considered the needs of people biking on Glebe Road but ultimately decided that the safest option, given the scope of the project, was to maintain consistent expectations for bicyclists based on conditions along the rest of the Glebe Road corridor (two shared motor vehicle/bicycle lanes),” the report said. “The staff recommendation provides a simple, single-file line for people both driving and biking, which would require no last-minute lane-changes or other maneuvering that could lead to collisions.”

The item is scheduled for review at the Monday, June 27 meeting of the Traffic and Parking Board.

Image via Google Maps

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While DASH won’t be able to cover the service gap from the upcoming Metro closures, WMATA announced some new measures yesterday that will attempt to replace Alexandria’s upcoming loss of Metro service.

There are two Metro shutdowns coming to Alexandria that will, together, eliminate or reduce Metro service in Alexandria from September to next May. The first is a shutdown of all stations south of the new Potomac Yard Metro station. The Potomac Yard closure is expected to last from Sept. 10 to Oct. 22. The Potomac Yard closure overlaps with the start of work on the Yellow Line Bridge from Sept. 10 to May. During the much longer Yellow Line Bridge closure, riders will have to take the Blue Line to Rosslyn to cross over into D.C.

During the Potomac Yard shutdown, Metro said in a release that it will be operating additional Blue Line trains, running every seven to nine minutes, from National Airport to New Carrollton stations. At the same time, Metro said customers traveling between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations should plan for approximately 15 minutes of extra travel time.

Metro also notes that if the 7000-series trains remain out of service the trains will operate less frequently.

During this first phase, WMATA said that free shuttle service will be offered in Virginia with three shuttles crossing the Potomac.

Local shuttles will be available during all Metrorail operating hours.

  • Blue Line Local: Local service between Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn St, King St-Old Town, Braddock Rd, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations every 10-20 minutes
  • Yellow Line Local: Local service between Huntington, Eisenhower Ave, King St-Old Town, Braddock Rd, and Crystal City stations every 10-15 minutes. Yellow Line shuttles do not stop at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Station

Express shuttles will be available most of the day (from 4:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., 6:30 am to 9:00 p.m weekends).

  • Blue Line Express: Franconia-Pentagon Express service between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon stations every 6 minutes
  • Yellow Line Express: Huntington-Pentagon Express service between Huntington and Pentagon stations every 6 minutes

Limited shuttles will be available during weekday rush hours only.

  • VA-DC Shuttle 1: Crystal City-L’Enfant Service between Crystal City, Pentagon City, Smithsonian, and L’Enfant Plaza stations every 12 minutes. Shuttle does not stop at Pentagon Station
  • VA-DC Shuttle 2: Pentagon-Archives Service between Pentagon, Smithsonian, and Archives stations every 12 minutes
  • VA-DC Shuttle 3: Mt. Vernon-Potomac Park (11Y Route) Service between Mt. Vernon, Alexandria, and Potomac Park every 20 minutes. Peak direction service only

Meanwhile, during Phase 2, the Potomac Yard Metro station will be reopened but the bridge will remain closed. All Yellow Line stations will be served by the Blue or Green Lines. Blue Line trains will run every 12 minutes between Largo Town Center and Franconia-Springfield stations and every 12 minutes between Huntington and New Carrollton stations. The Green Line trains will operate every eight minutes.

Metro said there will continue to be a limited rush hour shuttle service during this time.

  • VA-DC Shuttle 1: Crystal City-L’Enfant: Service between Crystal City, Pentagon City, Smithsonian, and L’Enfant Plaza stations every 12 minutes. Shuttle does not stop at Pentagon Station
  • VA-DC Shuttle 2: Pentagon-Archives: Service between Pentagon, Smithsonian, and Archives stations every 12 minutes
  • VA-DC Shuttle 3: Mt. Vernon-Potomac Park (11Y Route): Service between Mt. Vernon, Alexandria, and Potomac Park every 20 minutes. Peak direction service only

Additionally, Metro said riders could opt to take the 16Y Columbia Pike-Farragut Square Line, Metroway, or ride the Virginia Railway Express.

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Potomac Greens neighborhood (image via Google Maps)

The Potomac Greens neighborhood has voted overwhelmingly in favor of new parking restrictions aimed at keeping the residential streets from being overrun by commuters.

The proposed parking district, which would encompass the Potomac Greens neighborhood, is scheduled for review at a City Council meeting  (item 17) on Tuesday, June 14.

A new Residential Permit Parking District 14 for the Potomac Greens neighborhood is headed to the City Council after a survey of the neighborhood came back with 95% of survey respondents expressing support for new parking restrictions. The survey had a roughly 68% response rate — 155 of the 227 mailed surveys.

The staff report said the goal of the project is to protect the neighborhood from the impact of commuters looking for parking before boarding the Metro. A ballot about the parking restrictions said the district would limit on-street parking to two or three hours unless the vehicle has a residential parking permit.

“The intent of this proposed RPP District is to mitigate the impact of commuter parking in the neighborhood that may arise due to its proximity to the future Potomac Yard Metro Station, which is anticipated to open in fall 2022,” the staff report said.

The Metro station is currently scheduled to open sometime this fall.

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated 11:30 a.m.) Three arrests have been made in an attempting carjacking in Potomac Yard on Friday that left one dead and another injured.

Police said that Jordan Poteat, an 18-year-old non-city resident, was shot and killed in the incident. Police initially said they believed the car owner shot the carjackers, though later claimed the investigation was ongoing.

“In connection with this incident, Mikell Morris, an 18-year-old non-city resident, and two juvenile males, both 15 years of age, have been charged with carjacking,” said Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett. “No further details on the juveniles are available.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Alexandria Police Department Detective Matthew Kramarik via phone at 703-746-6650, by email at [email protected], or by contacting the non-emergency line at 703 746 4444. Tips can be submitted anonymously.

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Exxon in Potomac Yard (staff photo by James Cullum)

Update 10:25 p.m. — Police said earlier that it was believed that the owner of the car shot the suspects, but police said later that the incident is still under investigation.

“The only thing we have is it is an ongoing investigation,” said Alexandria Police Department Communications Director Courtney Ballantine. “We are still reviewing all the evidence which includes video to determine what happened. Any further updates will be coming as soon as possible.”

Earlier — The Alexandria Police Department is responding to a shooting at an Exxon station (2320 Richmond Highway) in Potomac Yard.

According to scanner traffic, there were two victims in a car with gunshot wounds. One was killed at the scene and another was transported to a hospital.

Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow that one person was dead on arrival.

“We believe the shooting was due to a carjacking,” Bassett said. “We believe the owner of the car shot the suspects.”

Witnesses told ALXnow they saw two people, both in dark clothing with their faces partially covered, flee the scene heading south. One witness said they heard between seven and nine shots.

“There was a shooting here,” Chief Don Hayes said. “We have one deceased, one en route to the hospital, and we are looking for two suspects. That’s all I can give you at this time.”

Multiple people reported seeing someone arrested outside of George Washington Middle School after the incident, but Alexandria police would not confirm.

2320 Richmond Highway, scene of a shooting near Potomac Yard (image via Google Maps)

Vernon Miles and James Cullum contributed to this story. Image via Google Maps

A rendering of what the view over Four Mile Run will look like after the power lines are undergrounded (via Dominion Energy)

project scheduled to begin this summer will tunnel under the Four Mile Run near the Route 1 bridge to move overhead power lines underground.

As part of the project, Dominion Energy will rebuild its Glebe Substation next year, modernizing the facility that was built in the 1970s and is reaching the end of its service life. The substation serves parts of Arlington and Alexandria.

The project comes after Dominion Energy has promised to invest millions in the area after years of frequent and sometimes devastating power outages.

“Everything will look a lot cleaner, a lot of the equipment will be a lot smaller,” said Ann Gordon Mickel, Dominion Energy’s communication and community lead for the project.

A virtual community meeting will be held tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the status of the project and what to expect during and after construction.

When work begins, a 250-foot by 250-foot area will be fenced off in the Potomac Yard shopping center parking lot in Alexandria to allow for a 40- to 50-foot deep pit for tunneling.

In Arlington, a pit will be constructed at the substation and there may be temporary intermittent closures on S. Eads Street, as well as on nearby sidewalks and pedestrian paths. Electric service will not be affected.

The underground line will run between the substation and the Potomac Yard Transition Station, which will be decommissioned at the end of the project. The rebuilt Glebe Substation will incorporate new technology, requiring less maintenance and making it more reliable, the power company said.

“Any time you address aging infrastructure and replace it with new technology the reliability always enhances,” said Greg Mathey, a manager of electric transmission communications for Dominion Energy. “The transmission system feeds the distribution system, so the more reliable and hardened we can make the transmission system, the better the distribution system can perform.”

The construction to convert to underground lines is scheduled to continue through 2024. The whole project should be completed by late 2025.

A chart showing the timeline for the Glebe Electric Transmission project (via Dominion Energy)

The entire project is expected to cost about $122.8 million. The State Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities in Virginia, approved the project in 2019. It was originally scheduled to be up and running by this month, but due to the nature of the construction, the timeline was pushed back.

Using a trenchless microtunneling method will increase costs by about $16 million — but it shortens the construction timeline, according to project documents.

This type of tunneling will also reduce construction-related impacts to the Potomac Yard shopping center, as it won’t require as much space for pipes above ground.

The overhead lines that can be seen over Four Mile Run will be removed at the end of the project.

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