‘Deeply disappointing:’ Opening of new Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria delayed

The new Potomac Yard Metro station that was set to open near the sprawling Amazon headquarters development in Alexandria, Virginia, next spring will be delayed by at least five months because of design flaws in a critical safety system, Metro announced Monday.

Construction on the Potomac Yard station, on Metro’s Blue and Yellow Lines, began in December 2019 and was expected to be completed by April 2022.

In a news release Monday, Metro now says the station is expected to be completed in or around the fall of 2022 so that engineers can redesign the Automatic Train Control system. The original design “did not meet all of the important safety requirements to ensure the safe operation of the trains,” officials said.

The ATC system prevents trains from getting too close to one another and makes sure trains always maintain a safe distance.

The original design of the ATC system was based on faulty specifications written by Metro.

“The need to redesign the ATC system is the result of project management decisions for which Metro is accountable,” the news release stated. “Metro is working with the contractor to reduce delays in the project schedule and ensure system safety.”

While much of the construction of the new station will continue largely on schedule, Metro said the construction of some “track-related” elements depends on the redesign of the ATC design.

Metro said it notified Alexandria city officials of the delay before the public announcement.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson called the announcement “deeply disappointing” and said the city planned to have its own expert construction consultant review the schedule “to see if there is a way to safely open this station earlier than September of 2022.”

In a statement, Wilson said the city appreciates that the transit agency is taking responsibility for the delay but called the design flaw “inexcusable.”

He noted the investment of $370 million being made by the city and private partners to fund construction of the station and said Metro’s internal systems “should have caught the error.”

The Potomac Yard Metro station will be located between the Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport stations at the southern end of Amazon’s “National Landing” development near the Virginia Tech “innovation campus.”

Issues with Metro’s ATC system also triggered delays in the second phase of the Silver Line extension, which is expected to open in early 2022 and carry riders to Dulles International Airport.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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