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Council Notebook

Kissing and Riding

For years, city leaders have thought the surface parking lot at the King Street Metro is just too suburban. Rosslyn doesn’t have a surface parking lot. Neither does Clarendon. That’s why Alexandria transportation officials have put together a $7 million plan to rebuild the facility. Although city officials once considered adding $433,000 to minimize disruption by spreading the construction out into six phases, that was abandoned to save money and fast-track the project.

“It’s like peeling off a Band Aid,” said Rich Baier, director of Transportation and Environmental Services. “You can either do it very slowly or very quickly.”

The new design has enhancements to pedestrian and bicycle facilities, additional landscaping, bus waiting areas, larger bus bays and additional bus layover spaces. Several items were spiked to bring the project in under $7 million, including “high-quality” shelters, dynamic message boards at the bus shelters and a brick sidewalk on Diagonal Road.

“Some of the design options suggested for elimination are, in our view, of vital importance to the success of this project,” wrote Transportation Chairman Kevin Posey in a letter to City Council members.

Nevertheless, council members took action this week on the scaled-down version of the plan. Perhaps the biggest change will be the elimination of 30 parking spaces, which are currently metered spaces that provide free parking on the weekends. All of these spaces will be removed in the reconstructed station design.

“The fact that we have a parking lot there creates a conflict, and that conflict will exist if we have a parking lot there,” said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley. “It wasn’t that long ago that we had a pedestrian fatality here, so pedestrian safety has to be the number one priority.”

Committee to Commission

Forget about the Waterfront Committee. Say hello to the Waterfront Commission.

In an effort to implement the waterfront small-area plan, members of the Alexandria City Council took action this week to refashion the committee into a more muscular commission. The group will help guide and track implementation of the plan. That includes advising the council on everything from flood mitigation and design guidelines to redevelopment and traffic studies.

“This action anticipates the appointment of a senior director within city government accountable for integrated management of the waterfront,” wrote Waterfront Committee Chairman Nate Macek in a letter supporting the change. “The Waterfront Commission would provide complementary public oversight of this new office in a structure that parallels that of other city departments advised by commissions.”

Although city officials first suggested that a member of the Traffic and Parking Board be included in the new commission, Councilman Paul Smedberg offered an amendment to the plan that removed that position. In its place, Smedberg suggested an at-large member.

“People understand the importance of getting the traffic study done,” said Smedberg. “But I think an at-large member would be able to bring a different expertise.”

Biking to Work

Spring has sprung, and the bicycles have already flooding city streets. That means Bike To Work Day is on its way. May 18 will be the 15th annual Bike To Work Day, an opportunity to promote cycling. Alexandria will host three of the 40 regional “pit stops” where commuting cyclists can start the day with free food, gear and prizes. Alexandria pit stops will be located at Market Square, John Carlyle Square and the Mark Center transit center.

“That’s when Frank Fannon takes his bike out of the Smithsonian,” quipped the vice mayor Tuesday night.

“Wait until you see the new one,” Councilman Fannon shot back. “It’s the 1780 model.”

“So it’s more modern than the last one,” added Councilman Rob Krupicka.