Cutting off Metro service to Virginia’s Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County this summer could lead to a significant drop in hotel revenues and other spending.
At the same time, Alexandria residents are concerned about potential noise from the work to remove and repair failing concrete on station platforms near their homes.
Hotel and related business revenues could drop
A private analysis for Visit Alexandria estimates a 13.5 percent drop in hotel revenues — about $8.6 million — this summer, unless additional information and promotions can draw visitors to the city even when there is no easy Metrorail access.
“Visitors are an important component particularly during the summer. We see declining regular commuter traffic … from Alexandria into D.C. but we actually see increased visitor traffic during the summer,” Visit Alexandria Chief Operating Officer Tom Kaiden said.
He likened the disruptions to red tide in Florida, hurricanes in Texas and North Carolina and a convention center closure in San Francisco.
“The difference here, in our case, is that we actually get to prepare for it,” he told the city council Tuesday night.
“We’re trying to shift the emphasis of our summer to the waterfront,” he said.
A flier provided to hotels outlines the planned shuttle bus routes, water taxi and transportation alternatives that will still be available in the city when all stations south of Reagan National Airport are closed from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross expressed similar concerns for summer tourism and tax revenue at a separate briefing Tuesday on the May 25 through Sept. 2 closure of Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield stations.
Visit Fairfax is also working to provide similar information, given serious worries from hotels in the Springfield area.
Extra service on regular bus routes, like Metrobus Route 11Y between Mt. Vernon, Old Town and the District could help visitors. Alexandria’s DASH Bus also bought extra buses at steep discounts that other transit agencies were ready to get rid of so that the city can provide its own extra service.
At Metro stations, signage about the shutdowns is expected to go up in May. Signs about shuttle buses will be posted for the duration of the closure.
Noise a worry for residents
Alexandria is negotiating with Metro on construction schedules with the aim of getting the loudest jackhammering and other work done during the day, while still allowing the project to proceed quickly, Alexandria Transportation Director Yon Lambert said.
“It’s always a balance,” Lambert said. “We are working with them right now to find out what that balance will look like.”
He expects a community meeting explaining details of construction plans to be scheduled before construction starts.
Some neighbors have already received notices of preparatory night work at stations over the next two months that includes power washing, equipment setup and other initial repairs.