Letter to the Editor: Station police at busy intersections

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To the editor:

On Saturday, July 7, I encountered a massive traffic jam as I was driving north on Union Street toward King Street. Due to the heavy pedestrian traffic at the KingUnion intersection, there was a one-block backup of cars in both directions. Since no vehicles moved for an extended period of time, a relative zoo was created.

This intersection continues to be a major problem for pedestrians and vehicles, especially on the weekends. Unfortunately, there is scant police presence at this intersection, and if by chance they are there, they do nothing to alleviate the dilemma of cars versus pedestrians, with bicyclists and skate boarders also mixed in this fiasco.

You would think that the city would do everything in its power to present its best impression to the many tourists that traditionally visit this part of Old Town. However, no one in city hall appears to want to solve this crisis – and believe me this crisis is only going to get worse.

Many citizens have appealed to have police officers direct traffic at this intersection, and at others that are similarly congested. However, it is evident that a conscious decision has been made not to use the police in this capacity. If this is the case, then why not use the personnel from the sheriff’s office, a traffic enforcement officer or even one of the school crossing guards?

When I ran for city council in 2000, one of my initiatives was to use police officers to direct traffic on Route 1 and on Washington Street during the peak traffic hours. This initiative was adopted by city council, and it worked while it was used. Since Alexandria is a nexus for important events as well as pass-through traffic, we need to alleviate these problems with a little application of common sense.

The city needs to pay attention to these well-known traffic bottlenecks, since their aggressive plans for a great deal more density will only serve to further aggravate this problem.

-Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet, Alexandria

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s 2018, there has to be some way to deal with temporary traffic jams. I agree with the author that the limited use of police is a appropriate use of their time considering the low crime rate etc. There are many examples of these choke points throughout the city. For example the Dash T7 bus along Eisenhower Rd is chronically late because of the traffic jams caused by cars bypassing the chronically backed up 495 north section. All of the side streets coming out of Old town are blocked by this flow of traffic yet no response by city hall. Poor effort!