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Old Town

One problem about the glorious George Washington Memorial Parkway is it's always there. For many Old Towners, the handsome strip of gentle pavement has been weaving its way for 70-plus years through lovely Northern Virginia, treating us to spectacular vistas along the way.

Many Gazette Packet readers take the National Road for granted — even as it has taken many shots endangering its continued life. Well, 'Towners, the frontal assaults on the old road are beginning again, it appears, this time from both the north around Potomac Yard to the southern tip of Old Town near the Old Stone Bridge, just south of the Porto Vecchio where I live. Complicating the latest assaults is no one seems quite sure whose driving the steamroller. No clear answer.

Understand this, 'Towners: There are some in our town who'd rob the Memorial Parkway if they could come up with a legal way. But that's where things get fuzzy. Laws, covenants, agreements and lots of other high-toned language are pretty tough to completely ignore. Start with the northern portion of the Parkway, nearest to access and bump into the construction zone where a new metro station is to be built. Infighting, some said to be vicious, has begun among jurisdictions all wanting a piece of the action as close as possible.

Among those involved, I'm told, is at least one Alexandria city council member and at least two city officials pumping for a decision that would accept the construction option that would place the metro station closest to the Parkway itself — the hell with what a decision would do the Parkway esthetic.

My friend Poul Hertel, who follows this issue (and many others), summed it up the other day: "The City has approved a plan for Metro on the Potomac Yard, and is looking to implement it. As part of the solution, they are looking at several alternatives to the Metro Station. One is to build on the original that was approved, one is to build on Potomac Yard itself, one is a no build option, and the last option, which is the source of my concern.

"This option not only moves the Metro Station closer to the GW Parkway, which affects the view shed, but there are also some very detrimental and far-reaching side effects."

The other part of the double trouble focuses on the southern approach to Old Town on the Parkway and the threat to the view shed. This a tough one to decipher. VDOT is sounding out possible buyers for the enormous buildings it owns on the east side of the Parkway, while a private developer who owns the buildings on the west side of the entry highway is playing his cards close as to his plans.

We can all be reasonably sure that some sort of change is imminent for the view shed. 'Towners, we need to keep our eye on this one — the southern assault on our important entry to Alexandria.

Your friendly neighborhood reporter will try his best to keep you up to speed on this latest assault on our National Road.