On Easter Sunday, I encountered a massive traffic jam as I was driving north on Union Street towards King Street. Due to the heavy pedestrian traffic at the King-Union intersection, there was a one block backup of cars in both directions. Since no vehicles moved for an extended period of time, a relative zoo was created. This intersection continues to be a major problem for pedestrians and vehicles, especially on the weekends. Unfortunately, there is scant police presence at this intersection, and if by chance they are there, they do nothing to alleviate the dilemma of cars versus pedestrians.
Many citizens have appealed to have police officers direct traffic at this intersection, and at others that are similarly congested. However, it is evident that a conscious decision has been made not to use the police in this capacity. If this is the case, then why not use the personnel from the Sheriff’s Office, a traffic enforcement officer, or even one of the school crossing guards? When I ran for City Council in 2000, one of my initiatives was to use police officers to direct traffic on Route 1 and on Washington Street during the peak traffic hours. This initiative was adopted by City Council, and it worked while it was used. Since Alexandria is a nexus for important events as well as pass-through traffic, we need to alleviate these problems with a little application of common sense. The city needs to pay attention to these well-known traffic bottlenecks, since their aggressive plans for more density will only serve to further aggravate this problem.
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet