Happy Spring, Everyone
While I struggle with our very complicated website (it's certainly not intuitive, so bear with me), I wanted to bring you up to date on key issues of interest to our members.
Zoning for Housing/Housing for All - the end of Single-Family Home Zoning?
The city is moving at breakneck speed to end single-family home zoning and raise height limits across the city to accommodate greater density. The stated goal is to add 100,000 residents by 2050, increase housing supply to address affordability challenges, and achieve racial equity (equal socio-economic outcomes) across all census tracts. See the "What"s Hot" section of the website for more on this. Several board members are active on this issue. A presentation on this issue will be the feature of our May 11th meeting. Please join us since this may be the most significant challenge facing our homeowners for decades to come.
Duke Street Bus Rapid Transit
At a similar pace, the city is moving forward with a design for Duke Street that will fundamentally change the corridor. The key features are likely to be:
- Loss of one of the three traffic lanes in each direction from I-395 to Jordan to make way for center-running bus lanes
- A single center-running bus lane from Wheeler to Roth in front of Alexandria Commons
- Another two-lane center bus corridor running east of there to King Street metro.
Implications are very likely to include more vehicular traffic congestion, longer waits at intersecting light signals, limitations on making left hand turns to and from some side streets, reduced bus stops and longer walks for bus riders, and unintended new pedestrian safety issues.
Several board members have been active on this issue. Recently, vice president Frank Putzu was a panelist on the April program of Agenda Alexandria and did a fabulous job!
Seminary Road Diet Four Years Later
Well, here we are almost 4 years into the road diet. The city approved a design with just two vehicular travel lanes, bike lines the full length of the corridor with a center turn lane. When it was done, the eastbound bike lane actually ends at Ft Williams Parkway and several "pedestrian islands" were installed although never included in depictions of the design alternatives. At this point, we can conclude that the road is less safe and certainly more difficult for all to navigate. There are 11 reported instances of vehicles hitting one or the other of the medians. There are two are reported instances of ambulances being delayed. In one case earlier this year, a motor vehicle collided with an ambulance on its way to the hospital. In a more recent case, a motor vehicle pulled over, but there was not sufficient room for the ambulance to proceed between the vehicle and one of the pedestrian islands.
Stream Restoration at Taylor Run and Strawberry Run
Due to the concerted efforts of local residents, including board member Carter Flemming and members Joe Sestak and Jeanne Jacob, the city backed off of highly destructive stream restoration projects that would have involved removing trees to allow heavy equipment to build concrete-oriented horizontal waterways. As a result of their efforts, any city initiatives to address stream bed erosion will now use much less intrusive methods.
Challenges continue for the developer while they decided to remove all the trees on the property. Since they did not perform sufficient due diligence on sewer drainage, the project has been delayed. The developer and the city are working on the issue that resulted from the lack of a proper right of way, which was raised by one of our members whose property is affected.
Ft. Ward Playground and Burial Grounds
The city continues to drag its feet on moving the current playground to a site that is not on sacred historic burial grounds of the old African-American Fort Neighborhood. Board members Fran Terrell and Tom Fulton continue their efforts on this issue.
MacArthur Elementary Construction
The construction of the expanded 800+ student school continues, but a local citizen construction expert continues to point out in some detail the project aspects that are likely to delay the school's opening beyond the August target. While the contractor seems to be working on weekends now and ACPS is sticking with an August target for opening, time will tell.
Bill Rossello, President, Seminary Hill Association