Your Views: Development does not equal progress: why Arlington and Fairfax look appealing


To the editor:
I havent been a resident of Alexandria as long as some, but having lived in the area for 20 years now, I have seen what growth planned and unplanned has done to Northern Virginia. 
Over the last 10 years, we have seen rapid development in the city of Alexandria, but no solution to the transportation issue has been implemented. Unlike Arlington, which had some foresight and developed around a Metro system, Alexandria seems to be relying on the possibility of public transportation magically appearing.
First, we saw the development of the Eisenhower Avenue / Duke Street area. Our city leaders assured us that when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opened, many of those employees would use the public transportation system. However, if you try driving in the area during rush hour, you are stuck. The problem is further compounded by the redesign of the Beltway at Telegraph Road. 
    Second, Seminary Road is a mess because of the Department of Defense administrative buildings being constructed at Mark Center. Reassigning 6,400 people to an area with no Metro service was incredibly short-sighted by all involved, including the Alexandria City Council, Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) and the DoD. Anybody who drives I-395 at rush hour sees how the traffic backs up on both sides of the freeway; it certainly does not take an urban planner to draw that conclusion.  
    If only one member of the council had the gumption to say something when this was first discussed several years ago, we would not have this issue. Instead, we have a governing body acting as if nobody could predict the problems that are going to result from this catastrophe.
Our city leaders approved a rather large development in Potomac Yard based on the hope that a new Metro station will be built by 2016 to alleviate the traffic problems sure to arise. However, if we look at what is happening to the extension of the Metro out to Dulles Airport, it is taking much longer than expected, more money than estimated and the federal government has had to get involved to monitor the progress. Not only has the transportation issue not been settled, but school officials have no plans to build schools. As the public school system becomes more crowded, where will we send these children? Most townhouse developments attract young families, and like the developments at Cameron Station and the West End, Potomac Yard is likely to have some students that will need to be accommodated by the public school system unless the city expects all these children to go to private schools.
The city councils eagerness to develop the waterfront could destroy some basic elements of this historic city. Nobody mentions how many hotel rooms remain vacant in the city on a regular basis or how we will be able to accommodate the added traffic and congestion that will be caused by new ones. I realize that planned growth is needed, but let us take a look down King Street and see how much retail space remains empty and look at the housing complexes that have units unsold and empty. When National Harbor was developed, we were told about how that was going to bring thousands of dollars to Alexandria, because people would be taking water taxis across the Potomac to shop and eat here. Has that data been tracked and has that really affected our economic stability?
I love living in this city more than anything, and I love that my children get to grow up in such a unique and diverse community. But with the continued mismanagement of growth and traffic, my family, like many others, will continue to re-evaluate the benefits we have here other than a short commute downtown, which my husband is likely to lose with development. We are having difficulty justifying our lifestyle. 
Like many Alexandrians, a move to Fairfax or Arlington County seems more likely as the government continues to destroy what attracted us to this community in the first place.