Council Approves Route 1 Transitway, Calls for Parking Districts
Alexandria City Council recently approved design elements of dedicated Bus Rapid Transit lanes on Route 1.
Alexandria City Council approved design elements of the city’s portion of the Crystal City-Potomac Yard transitway last week, putting construction of bus rapid transit lanes between Potomac Avenue and E. Glebe Road on track to begin in July.
Council made provisions to monitor changes in vehicle traffic in the area and requested city staff begin the process of creating a parking district in areas of Del Ray close to the BRT stops.
As reported in an April Patch story, the BRT will alter several Route 1 intersections. The traffic signal at Hume Avenue will be removed and the intersection will become right-in, right-out only. Right-in, right-out will also be required at Raymond, Windsor and Bellefonte avenues.
Intersections at Potomac Avenue and E. Glebe Road will also be altered to allow the buses to connect and exit the BRT lanes.
Del Ray resident David Fromm urged city staff to monitor changes created by the intersection changes, particularly on E. Glebe Road.
“You’ve taken access, which is Raymond and Hume, and you’ve consolidated it all to Glebe,” Fromm said. “Are you planning to make improvements to Glebe? Are you going to monitor improvements to Glebe so they can get into the Capital Improvement Projects budget in a certain amount of time?”
Fromm also urged city staff to be proactive and create parking districts around the BRT stops so users don’t clog residential streets by parking close to the stations. Fromm said it would “empower people to deal with problems as they come along.”
The city creates the parking districts, but residents must come together and apply for signage, stickers and other measures of enforcement.
“We need to put the mechanics in place so if people want to take advantage they can,” Councilman Rob Krupicka said. “I recognize there is a process, but the first step is kind of putting the overarching system in place and move from there. We’ll see if residents want to use it. Some may, some may want to wait awhile, but I’d like to start now.”
Councilman Paul Smedberg urged city staff to be very clear with residents and business owners near Route 1 about the changes ahead.
Abi Lerner, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said a series of fliers would be sent out to illustrate the changes.
The Alexandria portion of the Crystal City-Potomac Yard transitway is being funded by $8.5 million in federal stimulus money. The MetroBus 9S route will utilize the transitway, as will a new 9X route. Service is scheduled to begin in late 2013.
Arlington County is moving forward with a planned streetcar system in Crystal City. The BRT could be converted to streetcars in Alexandria as early as 2018, but funding is an issue.
In late April, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes released a joint statement saying that cuts to federal and state transportation money forced both jurisdictions to reassess transportation projects.
Alexandria decided to focus its funding and attention on constructing a Metro station at Potomac Yard, while Arlington “needs a streetcar system in Crystal City to support development there” and has secured funding through a special tax district.
“We are both committed to providing more transit options for people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor,” the statement read. “Our strategies are not exactly the same at this point in time. We look forward to working together collaboratively as we continue to move people efficiently through our communities and the region.”