Alexandria prepares to cope with Metro disruption
Alexandria officials are looking at a range of options — from more water taxis to increased co-working spaces — to ease the disruption next summer when city Metro stations will be shut down for platform repairs.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced in May that it plans to close all Alexandria-area Metro stations at the beginning of a project that is expected to last several years.
The Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue and Van Dorn Street stations are expected to be closed from Memorial Day through Labor Day in 2019.
“While this absolutely will have an impact, we have a lot of transit options,” says Stephanie Landrum, president and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP). “We could have water taxis more frequently. The Virginia Railway Express goes through Alexandria — is there a way we can add capacity or frequency?”
Patricia Washington, the president and CEO of Visit Alexandria, says in a statement that problems caused by the shutdown can be mitigated “by the additional bus service planned and by our many other transportation options connecting us to the region, including water taxi, rideshare, bikeshare and taxi service.”
The growth of shared workspaces has been one of the biggest changes to the city’s real estate market in the last three years, Landrum notes, and “one strategy could be during those three months to have people work out of co-working spaces, so they can be productive but not have to struggle” with a disrupted commute.
She says that option could be especially useful for the large number of federal employees who live
in Alexandria and work in other areas.
“The blessing of the announcement is we have more than a year to prepare for it. We can get all ideas out on the table,” Landrum says. “While this is not ideal, the end result is a safer, more reliable Metro system. Metro is going to be rolling this out throughout the system for the next five years. We’re first in line. We’re taking our pain early.”
A task force will begin meeting this summer, she says. “We’re having conversations on a citywide basis to make sure we reach as many of the business communities as possible. We’re also having larger public meetings.”
And, Landrum says, AEDP plans to look at other cities that have faced extensive transportation interruptions. “What has New York done? What has Boston done? They’ve had to deal with it. We’re looking for best practices.”