Letter: Focus on People In Beauregard

Letter: Focus on People In Beauregard

Recent diagrams by City of Alexandria staff used to explain the proposed Beauregard Corridor relies on dots and circles. What is overlooked in the maps, are realistic proposals or guidelines connecting the dots — people to destinations within the plan area.

The City of Alexandria Transportation ideas for the Beauregard Corridor revolve around the proposed HOV ramp, the ellipse (a traffic rotary with traffic signals) and a dedicated lane for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. What is overlooked by transportation engineers is an attractive network of streets, sidewalks, shared public spaces that will allow people in the plan area or nearby to conveniently walk or bike to and from the separate developments.

The proposed redevelopment plans for the Beauregard Small Area Plan area would increase current densities allowed under current zoning from 10 million square feet to 12 million square feet. The existing development in the plan area is approximately 5.5 million square feet. The proposed plan area encompasses nearly 400 acres. As a result, the population of the area will increase substantially, overburdening again the new transportation infrastructure.

The Beauregard Corridor Plan should focus on using public space to create a multi-model network connecting people to the transit stations at Mark Center Station and Southern Towers as well as the retail stores, cafes and coffee shops. Providing convenient options to allow people to move from one place to another will reduce the dependency on cars and create a more active and vibrant interconnected community. The small area plan should ensure streets, sidewalks, and shared spaces are designed to operate together for all users.

Residents living at Seminary Park should be able to safely cross Seminary Road to a bus stop or using internal sidewalks and public space be able to walk, ride or bike through the proposed Hekemian development to Southern Towers. The public spaces used to get from one place to another should be safe, attractive and interesting — not parking lots or garages. Once on the Southern Towers property, pedestrians should be able to make their way to the proposed retail areas and proposed BRT station at Southern Towers and the Mark Center Station. Passengers arriving at Southern Towers from the District of Columbia, Skyline, Bailey’s Crossroads should be able to walk to the Mark Center Station or the nearby office buildings and hotels.

In addition, residents living at Seminary Towers and Seminary Hill Apartment, and office workers at the Alexandria Professional Building east of I-395 should be able to easily walk or bike to and from the transit hubs at Southern Towers, Mark Center Station or nearby office buildings. Connecting people and places within a network of streets, sidewalks, parks and shared spaces is as important as designing streets and intersections and projecting levels of service.

Greater focus on pedestrian, bicyclists and accessibility for everyone would produce a more active community environment, spur local retail, and reduce dependency on cars. Planning pedestrian movement within the plan area should occur now. It is important that transportation engineers connect the dots to ensure pedestrians are not walking through parking lots, scampering across wide, busy streets, or finding other unsafe shortcuts to get to their destination.

Dave Cavanaugh