Traffic and Parking Board approves removal of parking spaces

Traffic and Parking Board approves removal of parking spaces
The existing, original proposal and approved Line 34 route options (photo Traffic and Parking Board meeting)

By Kassidy McDonald

The Traffic and Parking Board voted Monday night to remove five parking spaces along North Pitt and Pendleton streets to accommodate the DASH Line 34 realignment.
DASH Director of Planning Martin Barna requested the removal of these five spots in a presentation to the board.

The new route comes after a previous proposal had been altered due to community and Alexandria residents’ concerns. The original proposed route prompted concerns about the densely populated residential areas on North Pitt Street. The new proposal avoids this busy area along North Pitt Street, allowing for a new route that does not disrupt a busy residential area but still provides close bus service to residents who want to use public transportation.

In April, the board discussed eliminating up to twice as many parking spaces along the route – altogether up to 10. But that number was reduced to five after the board received pushback from residents. Barna urged residents to also consider the benefits the new bus route will bring to Old Town.

One stop will be added at southbound Pitt and First, which will not require the removal of any spaces. Another stop that won’t require a parking spot removal will be added at northbound Pitt and Montgomery. At southbound Pitt and Madison, one parking spot will be removed for one bus stop. At westbound Pitt and Pendleton, two parking spots will be removed and the Stop Bar, a white line pavement marking across lanes
that indicates where to stop, will move back five to ten feet for one bus stop. At southbound Pitt and Pendleton, one parking spot will be removed and the Stop Bar will move back five to ten feet to accommodate one bus stop.

At east and westbound Pendleton and Fairfax, one parking spot will be removed and the Stop Bar will move back five to ten feet for one bus stop. Finally, at northbound Fairfax and Pendleton, no spots will be removed due to existing restrictions at a fire hydrant.

The area of Pitt and Pendleton will experience the most change with three removed spots. Barna expressed concerns about the narrow street geometry and bus radius at this location, making it necessary for the safety of bus riders and residents to remove these three spots.

Bus stops were removed from the original proposal at eastbound Pendleton and Royal and westbound Pendleton and Royal. These two stops would have amounted to four extra parking spaces being removed in Old Town, but the route has since then been altered to have less of an impact on the community.

“In consultation with the community and with staff we revised our proposal to no longer have stops there,” Barna said.

Barna said that DASH has held an extensive public engagement and outreach period with the community to discuss potential impacts as well as for them to voice their concerns. These outreach efforts included Traffic and Parking community meetings and public hearings, pop-up events at key transit centers, flyers and posters, updates to the DASH website and social media accounts as well as continued email correspondence with North Pitt Street residents.

Vice Chair Ann Tucker asked Barna whether these buses will be hybrid bus models to cut back on noise and exhaust on the new route.

“For reference, we have about 100 buses in our fleet,” Barna said. “Currently 14 of them are 100% electric and about 55 of them are hybrid electric. … We actually just retired the last of our old diesel buses that were extremely noisy. So all the buses are clean diesel, which are much quieter, or electric or hybrid.”

Casey Kane, another member, asked a question about the Fairfax and Pendleton locations that are removing parking to accommodate turning radius of the buses.

“My concern is just because we have removed parking doesn’t mean people won’t use it for parking, particularly delivery vehicles. … Is this an opportunity to look at those for other uses like scooter corrals or on-street bike parking? And would that allow the buses to still make their turns?” Kane asked.

Barna said they typically would not put anything because there could be “people coming out of the scooter corrals” and the proximity to the bus would then pose a problem.
“We would probably look at a different spot for a scooter corral,” Barna said.

During public comment, David Kaplan, chair of the Alexandria Transit Company Board of Directors, expressed his support for this new “compromised solution” that will serve Old Town along Pitt Street that did not have service previously.

“We heard a lot of concerns from the community about our original proposal and the amount of parking that was to be removed, and really encouraged the staff to look at compromise that would still allow us to serve the development that is north of Pendleton, and I believe we’ve done that with this plan,” Kaplan said.

The board then reminded the attendees that the Alexandria Transit Company Board of Directors had already approved the alignment of the route, making the meeting’s focus on the parking space removals where the bus stops will be located.

Staff’s recommendation to remove five parking spaces along North Pitt Street and Pendleton Street passed unanimously.