Connector Opponents Keep Eye on Council

Connector Opponents Keep Eye on Council

Even though the four-lane connector between Eisenhower and Duke has been taken off the table by City Council, connector opponents remain concerned.

"What is absent from the new study of two-lane connectors is a comprehensive land-use and transportation plan for Eisenhower Valley,” said Ginny Hines Parry in the Nov. 5 edition of her Connector Update newsletter.

“Only Eisenhower East, from Holland Lane to Telegraph Road, has undergone a community-wide planning process. Eisenhower West is at the very preliminary stages of community-wide planning.

“Until we know more, (1) keep your yard signs up and (2) send e-mails to the mayor and City Council, urging them to support the recommendation of the citizens’ connector task force: Don’t build a connector anywhere.”

Lou Cordia, the founder of Alexandrians Against a Highway Connector, is pleased that City Council took the four-lane proposals off the table but wants to see Council go further.

“We citizens must make certain that the decisions of the City Council work session are clarified and formalized at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting,” Cordia said. “We must also respectfully request that members of City Council, individually and collectively, express vision statements about how they see the city. We would like to have these by Dec. 10. Then, we would like to have a public hearing at which City Council will listen to the views of citizens of Alexandria on our own vision for the city. Only after that should City Council move forward with planning efforts that should reflect these visions.”

Cordia also recognized Councilwoman Redella S. “Del” Pepper and Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland for their leadership. “They were the only City Council members who signed our petition clearly stating their objection to any and all connectors. At the same time, we want to thank the rest of the City Council for their hearing citizens’ concerns about the adverse impact of a connector on our neighborhoods and acting accordingly at the work session.”

MEMBERS OF CITY COUNCIL had not yet received Cordia’s request for a vote, vision statements and a public hearing. “I certainly don’t have any problem with voting on the decisions that we made at the work session last week,” said Mayor Kerry J. Donley. “The four-lane connector is off the table, as is the no-build-with-improvements option. As to a vision statement, we have a master plan that guides our land-use decisions, and we are moving forward with planning efforts for Eisenhower East and have begun planning efforts for Eisenhower West. After we have completed those planning efforts, with a lot of community input, we will develop a plan for the valley.”

Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) staff are analyzing a variety of two-lane options and combinations of those options. City Manager Phillip Sunderland will tell City Council when to expect that analysis, at the Nov. 12 meeting. Sunderland expressed his desire to have that analysis to Council before the end of the year.

“I think if one has a background in planning, you approach it from that perspective,” said Councilwoman Claire Eberwein. “This is a very complex issue that deals with quality of life, traffic congestion, by-right development rights and public safety. Some of the solutions suggested including no-build-with-improvements exacerbate the gridlock we are already experiencing.

“I asked that the planning department be brought into the process in a formal manner, and that is happening. As they proceed with the planning of Eisenhower West and the rest of the city, I have confidence in their ability to work with T&ES to suggest professional solutions for the City Council to consider.”

Judy McVay, the president of the Coalition for a Sensible Bridge and an opponent of the connector roadway, has some serious concerns about even a two-lane connector.

“There doesn’t seem to be any widespread support for even a two-lane connector in the community,” she said. “The support seems to be coming mostly from a few members of the community and members of City Council. I think this proposal for a two-lane connector or more than one two-lane connector may just be an end-run to get their way after all. It will be very interesting to see what happens.”