To the Editor:
Members of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names failed to ask important questions and gather necessary facts about several essential matters before voting on their recommendations to City Council. I have already noted that members recognized but chose to ignore the inconveniences of time and cost to residents and businesses on Jefferson Davis Highway if its name is changed (minimum of several hundred dollars to each address for a title change). Also disregarded: cascading other associated expenses and confusion to others within and outside of our city resulting from outdated electronic directions, etc.
In another example of ignoring important and relevant facts, a member repeatedly alleged that the intersection of Washington and Prince streets is unsafe because “Appomattox” [the statue] is a traffic hazard. However, during all the hearings, no one ever asked or reported about the number of accidents there or compared that number with those at other Washington Street intersections. In fact, the city’s accident statistics indicate the statue is not a traffic hazard. How nice to know that residents and visitors can continue to enjoy this notable memorial to Alexandria’s dead, knowing it does not pose a particular danger.
In response to my recent inquiry, the city’s Traffic Engineering Office noted: “This intersection has an average accident rate when compared to the rest of the intersections on Washington Street … and historical crash data does not show that the statue is creating any problems.”
“For the past five years all of the Washington Street intersections combined have an average of five accidents per year per intersection. The intersection of Washington and Prince for the same time period has an accident rate of five, which means it is average. By comparison, Washington and Duke averages nine accidents per year. The last time the statue was hit was in 2011. … Washington and Prince does not have an abnormally high accident rate and the island with the statue does not appear to be creating a hazard.”
Although Washington Street has long had a two- block-long island immediately north of the statue, no group member or other speaker at the public hearings declared that median area or those intersections dangerous.
I am very disappointed members did not investigate their stated concerns during their six months of hearings. Ignoring important and relevant facts shows a troubling lack of responsibility to the duty they accepted and want of consideration for fellow citizens.
Ellen Latane Tabb