The new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station has opened in Alexandria, VA, to bring expanded service to the Washington DC metropolitan area. 

Serving two Metrorail lines of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the sustainably designed station provides an important connection for local commuters that will boost regional ridership and reduce car traffic.

As lead designer of the station, Arup provided structural, mechanical, engineering, plumbing, civil, fire, and geotechnical engineering as well as information technology and communications, sustainability, and security consulting and lighting design in support of Potomac Yard Constructors, the Halmar-Schiavone Joint Venture, and WMATA.

Previously the largest railyard on the Eastern seaboard, Potomac Yard has undergone redevelopment over the last few decades. The addition of the new station, which is located between Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the City of Alexandria, will be key to catalyzing the development of the surrounding area into a walkable urban hub. Bordered on one side by wetlands and on the other by freight rail tracks, the station is connected to the adjacent neighborhood by a pedestrian bridge at the north end of the station.  Arup designed the bridge to provide foot and cycle access over the freight rail corridor to the station pavilions, linking in with the adjacent Mount Vernon Trail and promoting sustainable mobility over car traffic. The team also oriented the south entrance pavilion to be more accessible for the sight-impaired traveling to and from the National Industries for the Blind, located across Potomac Avenue from the station. In the coming years, the station is expected to generate billions of dollars in new private sector investments, eventually supporting 26,000 new jobs and drawing 13,000 new residents to the burgeoning mixed-use community.

“Providing a critical link between the City of Alexandria’s rapidly developing neighborhoods and industry and the larger Washington DC area, the new Potomac Yard Metrorail Station exemplifies the importance of rail transit for thriving communities and sustainable development,” said Stephen Lasser, Principal and Project Manager, Arup.

An early adopter of the LEED for Transit Stations pilot program, the station is targeting Gold level certification. Arup provided guidance for the pathway to LEED, advising on aspects from site selection to materials and resources. During construction, Arup worked closely with the construction teams to drive a 70% diversion rate of waste hauling to landfill — a less common practice for infrastructure projects in the US. Now open, the station’s design aims to create a quality experience for travelers, serving to visually connect to and reference the scenic preserved wetlands bordering the east side of the site. The station includes natural design materials like stone, large windows for quality views of the surrounding environment, and biophilic façade artwork presented by the WMATA Art in Transit program.

Part of WMATA’s continued regional ridership expansion efforts, the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station demonstrates the vitality of rail transit for commuters. The new station fosters sustainability, both through its thoughtful design and its encouragement of high-density urban growth and low-carbon travel.