To the editor:
Everyone should be able to see Alexandria’s “Duke Street In Motion” for what it really is: a looming train wreck. The question is whether any city leader has the courage to hit pause on this ill-considered project before the crash.
The plan ostensibly seeks to relieve congestion on Duke Street. Except the solution the city has arrived at is to take away one traffic lane and designate it for buses or bicycles. You got that right: not add a lane – take one away.
So, the most likely outcome is that congestion will get worse. If you need any evidence that this is a poor idea, you need only as far as the city’s earlier handiwork on Route 1 near Potomac Yard where they constructed a bus- es-only middle lane.
Except anyone who has ever spent a moment on that often-congested road will attest it remains heavily congested at rush hour, except now it features a deserted lane in the middle where normally empty buses roar by infrequently.
The proposed solution for Duke Street, however, is much worse: rather than construct a new lane, the city proposes to take one of the already congested traffic lanes away. The city obviously believes that if they can make Duke Street even more of a traffic hellscape than it already is, perhaps then more residents will be forced to take their now often empty Dash buses.
Here’s an idea: Sit outside Alexandria City Hall one evening when the City Council has a meeting. See how many council members arrive by DASH bus. My guess is that the number is approximately zero.
Why? It’s inconvenient. But it is not so inconvenient that city planners and leaders feel any compunction about forcing residents onto the buses.
You get the sense that because the city solicited and obtained a grant of $75 million for the project from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, they now feel compelled to spend it, even though for the vast majority of Alexandria residents, the project will make their lives harder, not easier.
To their credit, some are speaking up. Former DASH Director Sandy Modell pointed out the biggest problem on Duke is around Telegraph Road, which this project does nothing to fix. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson has also expressed concerns. Will enough people be willing to stand up for the citizens of Alexandria before this concept goes too far? We will soon see.
-Thomas Spoehr, Alexandria