To the editor:
In the “Our View” column of last week’s paper, the Times editors noted that Duke Street is bursting and that the issues of congestion and safety on the East-West arterial must be addressed, but cautioned the city to take care and “don’t strangle Duke Street.”
I heartily agree that something must be done. Duke Street is already in a sorry state for everyone who uses it, and if things are bad now, just wait until the corridor adds all the homes and jobs planned for sites like West End. For better or worse, the corridor is on a trajectory for continued growth.
We need to plan for that growth, and Duke Street in Motion presents us a golden opportunity to do so by adding dedicated bus lanes. Buses in dedicated lanes can move many more people much more quickly than if the same number of people drove themselves or rode buses in mixed traffic. Setting up a true Bus Rapid Transit route will allow many new residents, and maybe some existing Alexandrians, to make trips along Duke that they would otherwise likely drive for. Frequent, fast buses are transportation that people will choose to ride. This frees up traffic for everyone on Duke.
If we miss this opportunity to plan for growth, we’re setting ourselves up for an even worse corridor 10 years from now. While some worry about the effects of changing Duke Street too much, I worry that failing to do enough will be even worse. We’ve all seen the disastrous results of inaction – just look at the city’s flooding problems after years of failing to invest in our water systems.
It would be bad if the city strangles Duke Street, but it will be even worse if we stand by and let Duke Street strangle itself.
-Alex Goyette, Alexandria