Potomac Yard Metrorail Station delayed at least five months due to ‘inexcusable’ mistake

July 27, 2021
WMATA explains the ATC system requires a redesign because the original system did not meet safety requirements.

The Potomac Yard Metrorail Station in Alexandria, Va., will be delayed a minimum of five months due to a needed redesign of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) systems.

The $370-million project is expected to provide walkable access to regional transportation systems for residents of Alexandria when it opens, which will now be fall 2022 rather than April 2022.

Engineers from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) determined the original design of the ATC system do not meet all the safety requirements to ensure the safe operations of the trains. The specifications for the ATC systems were written by WMATA and the transit agency recognizes it is accountable for the delay due to its project management decisions.

WMATA says it is working with the contractor to reduce delays and ensure system safety. Construction will continue on the station, but there are track-related construction elements that are dependent on the completion of the ATC design.

Prior to a public announcement of the project delay, WMATA notified the city of Alexandria, which initiated the project.

“While we appreciate Metro’s acceptance of accountability and recent diligence in addressing this issue, the contract language mistake is inexcusable,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “With the large investment of $370 million being made by the city and other governmental and private partners to fund the station construction, internal systems should have caught the error. The city intends to have its own expert construction consultant review the schedule to determine if there is a way to safely open this station earlier than September of 2022.”

The Potomac Yard Station will be located in the southern end of National Landing on WMATA’s Yellow and Blue lines between the existing Braddock Road and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stations.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.