YOUR VIEWS | Dont Write Off Citys West End


To the editor:

While I appreciate David Almas letter to the editor last week (Remember Who Came First) paraphrasing my quotes from a previous story, I want to clarify a few things (particularly, the spelling of my last name: Sanden):

First, while its true that a small paving operation has existed in that particular location on Van Dorn Street since 1960, the Alexandria City Council voted in 2006 to expand operations of the plant significantly, giving the plant permission to run essentially 24 hours a day and seven days a week during the summer when air quality is already questionable.

Virginia Paving is now one of the largest asphalt plants on the East Coast. Tucker Elementary, which sits essentially in a valley next to the asphalt plant, is a year-round school and students are in session during the hottest code red days of August. Admittedly, residents of Cameron Station and parents at Tucker didnt view this expansion as particularly friendly.

While the train tracks are obviously not a new phenomenon, the ethanol transloading facility is. The constant truck traffic and train noise in the middle of the night are a new development since the facility opened about 14 months ago, unbeknownst to the residents of the area immediately surrounding the facility. As you may be aware, a truck loaded with 8,000 gallons of ethanol crashed in Southern California last week, killing the driver and producing a fireball so hot it melted the entire truck and tanker. It also shut down a portion of Interstate 710 for days, creating traffic nightmares.

Its really not a matter of if such an event will happen in Alexandria on Van Dorn Street, Interstate 95 or Interstate 495; its a matter of when.

The city, via its appeal of the court case against Norfolk Southern, is simply hoping to control some of the tanker truck traffic on local roads, which protects all citizens not just Cameron Station residents.

As far as moving all the industrial businesses to Springfield, thats obviously not an economically reasonable solution at this time, and my remarks didnt insinuate that. However, our hope is that the city is serious about redeveloping the West End as a place where not only Cameron Station residents, but all residents of Alexandria, can work, shop, recreate and eat exclusively, instead of contributing to an ever-growing stream of dollars constantly leaving the city, going to Kingstowne, Pentagon Row, Tysons Corner, and other more desirable areas.

At this point, many Cameron Station residents are growing more and more frustrated with the unchanging landscape of the West End. Many have been waiting 10 years for some sort of change on this end of town. At this point, the change were seeing, including the continued demise of Landmark Mall, empty warehouses on Van Dorn Street and the increased truck traffic on local West End roads, is not positive.

Its time for the city to make some choices about the face of the West End so residents can make an educated decision about whether or not to stay.

Ingrid Sanden
President, Cameron Station Civic Association, Alexandria