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New Development

Giant/ABC Site
2nd Street Green Project
Power Plant Site
Old Colony Inn Site
National Airport North
Metro Bus Barn Site
Travel Lodge Motel Site
The Towns at 1333
Powhatan Potomac Yard
Mount Vernon Trail
Robinson Terminal North
Robinson Terminal South
Old Dominion Boat Club
The Thornton
Hoffman Town Center
Landmark Mall
Potomac Yard Metro
Alexandria Sewer
Craddock/Smoot Lumber
Potomac Yard


Montgomery Street
Crowne Plaza
Waterfront Center
Holiday Inn
Beach Drive

Park Development

Montgomery Park
Windmill Hill Park
Jones Point Park
Potomac Yard Park
King Street Waterfront Park

Completed Projects

National Airport South
Canal Center Plaza


Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project Along Second Street

In June 2016, the City of Alexandria launched a Green Infrastructure Initiative designed to divert storm water away from the city's aging and easily overwhelmed combined sewer system, and back into the ground to recharge the area's groundwater.  Click here to read more about the city's related efforts to reduce the amount of untreated effluent that it releases from the combined sewer system into the Potomac River and its tributaries during heavy rain storms.

This effort complements a capital-intensive project that the city has undertaken to reduce the frequency and volume of untreated storm and waste water that the city releases into area waterways during major storms.  It is also consistent with community feedback that the Old Town North Small Area Plan Advisory Group has received for more green projects in our neighborhoods in coming years (the City Planning page of this website provides more information on the recently updated Old Town North Small Area Plan).

As part of the Green Infrastructure Initiative, the city's Department of Project Implementation "is planning to construct a Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project along Second Street between North Pitt and North Royal Streets.  The project will reduce the existing paved area and will create green space for trees and a series of bioretention facilities."

On October 17, 2016, representatives of Watergate of Alexandria and Canal Place, the two communities directly affected by the project, met with city staff at an open public meeting to discuss the demonstration project.  Click here to see the public notice of the meeting, and click here to see the materials (50 pages) presented at the meeting.  Here is what we learned:

Why Us?

The city is pursuing a number of demonstration projects intended to show residents and developers how green initiatives can be successfully implemented with considerable environmental benefits and at reasonable cost. City staffers considered 50 potential sites in Old Town to conduct its first larger-scale green infrastructure demonstation project, and the block of Second Street between Watergate and Canal Place was their first choice for several reasons:

  This section of street is unusually wide, and two broad travel lanes will remain even after the street is narrowed (no traffic issues).

  There are no other planned encroachments on the street (no known conflicts).

  The city has an existing right-of-way (no acquisition costs).

  There is a convenient nearby connection point to the existing storm water system at the proper depth below ground (no engineering challenges).

  This section of Second Street is adjacent to North Royal Street, which has been identified as a "Green Street Target Zone" under the Old Town North Small Area Plan.  North Royal Street itself is too narrow to accomodate all the improvements contemplated by the demonstration project.


What Changes Will Be Made?

As planned, the project envisions the following changes:

  New concrete sidewalks will be poured on both sides of the street (6 inches wider on the Watergate side, 12 inches wider on the Canal Place side).

  Existing brick walkways connecting the brick porches at Watergate to the concrete sidewalk will be raised several inches, leveled and relaid.

  Planted areas and new concrete curbs will be placed between the widened sidewalks and the narrowed roadway (see images above right and below right).  The planted areas will have deep absorption beds designed to catch, retain and recylcle rain water (see image at right).

    They will be filled with landscaped ground cover, smaller trees such as river birches to facilitate water evaporation, and larger canopy trees like red maples for shade and ground cooling (see image at bottom).

  As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, new Alexandria DASH bus curb extensions, or bump-outs, will be installed (see image below right). 

  Unsheltered benches are planned if the budget allows.

  On-street parking along Second Street will be reduced from 16 to 13 spaces as a result of ADA-mandated bus bump-outs (see illustration immediately below).  This would occur at some point in the future even if the green demonstration project does not take place.



Current Schedule -- Late Spring 2018

On March 1, 2018, the senior city engineer in charge of this project stated in an email message that "the start of construction has been delayed pending our coordination with utility company relocations.   In December, as we finalized our relocation plans, the utility companies brought new information to the table indicating that the existing lines were larger and more significant than previously anticipated. We are finalizing our test pit research and will meet internally to set path forward by the end of March. At that time, I should be able to provide updated construction start dates."


Impact on Watergate of Alexandria

Due in part to concerns raised by Watergate's board, the city hired ECS Engineering Consulting Services, a geotechnical engineering firm, to advise it on subsidence and other soils-related issues.  For the past several years, ECS has also served as a geotechnical consultant to Watergate.

On January 19, 2017, the city's lead project engineer informed Watergate that ECS has analyzed the current designs and concluded that the proposed bioretention facilities will be outside of the zone of influence of Watergate’s buildings.  However, out of an abudance of caution, an impermeable liner will be added to all sides of the bioretention basins adjacent to Watergate to prevent an undesired change in moisture content in the ground there. 

As designed, water held in the bioretention facilities adjacent to Watergate will either flow thru an underdrain, be taken up into the vegetation planted above, or evaporate naturally.  In addition, the anticipated construction equipment required to construct the project will be low-impact, and the final build specifications will reinforce this approach. 

Members of Watergate's board met with city staff on February 22, 2017 to discuss the project further.  If you are a Watergate homeowner, click here to download a copy of the city's presentation.


On March 17, 2017, several representatives of Watergate's board and grounds committee met onsite with city engineers and the city arborist to discuss appropriate plantings on Watergate's side of Second Street.  Two river birches (chosen mainly for water absorbtion and drought tolerance) and four red maple trees (chosen primarily for shade cover, compatability with existing neighborhood trees, and height at maturity) have been chosen for the new planter beds (see illustraion at left).

On August 11, 2017, the city's project staff reported that the 60% design submission was finalized in June, that it complied with applicable zoning requirements for Old Town North, and that they were now working on the 90% plan.  The project is on schedule to break ground in early 2018.

Funds for the project have been set aside in the city's FY 2017 and FY 2018 budgets.  During construction, Second Street will largely remain open to traffic.


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