Seminary Road, which the city classifies as an “arterial road,” handles up to 33,800 vehicles per day. Janney’s Lane, which continues Seminary Road east of North Quaker Lane, handles some 8,200 vehicles per day. In both cases, up to 40 percent constitutes cut-through traffic from Telegraph Road and the Capital Beltway. Six “local” or “residential collector” streets branching off Seminary Road or Janney’s Lane (excluding North Quaker Lane) together handle up to 27,300 vehicles per day, up to 60 percent of which are cut-through.
Map modified from city government’s Central Alexandria Traffic Study
Hundreds oppose the potential reduction of Seminary Road’s vehicular lanes, ahead of city staff’s final recommendation, set for next month, about how to reconfigure that traffic artery through central Alexandria.
Expressing their opposition, as the Gazette Packet goes to press, 721 people signed an electronic petition, which resident Jill Hoffman first launched on Saturday, April 20.
In 2016, the city government identified Seminary Road as having potential for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements. The city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) developed three design alternatives, about which it’s been gathering public input and will narrow to a final recommendation in early May. To save on costs, the city would make any approved overhauls in conjunction with scheduled repaving later in 2019.
The city scored each alternative, on a scale of 1-5, in each of seven categories: pedestrian safety/comfort; filling in sidewalk discontinuities; controlling speed; preventing crashes; minimizing vehicle delay; adjacent resident livability; and bicyclist safety/comfort.
While the stretch currently comprises four vehicular lanes, two westbound and two eastbound, the three options under consideration would:
ALTERNATIVE 1: maintain four lanes with minor changes (composite score: 14; lowest scoring categories: filling in sidewalk discontinuities, bicyclist safety/comfort);
ALTERNATIVE 2: reduce to one eastbound and two westbound vehicular lanes, add bike lanes (composite score: 21; lowest scoring category: adjacent resident livability);
ALTERNATIVE 3: reduce to one eastbound, one westbound and one shared turn lane for vehicles, add an offset bike lane (composite score: 30; lowest scoring category: minimizing vehicle delay, adjacent resident livability).
The petitioners reject the third option. They say a worsening traffic squeeze causes “dangerous cut-through traffic on secondary roads and neighborhood streets,” as well as “longer travel time and decreased mobility for residents.”
Hoffman says she and others are “dumbfounded” that the city keeps making decisions — like reducing speed limits and vehicle lanes — that worsen traffic on arterial streets. She says she’s unconvinced the “narrative” of resident opposition is getting through to City Council.
Petitioners ask that the Traffic and Parking Board reject Alternative 3, if that’s the option T&ES staff ultimately put forward. The board, one of the city government’s many advisory bodies, comprises seven council-appointed members, charged to “consider matters concerning substantial changes to traffic and on-street parking regulations.”
Asked to comment on the petition, T&ES Director Yon Lambert said: “We understand this is a heavily traveled corridor, and that its design affects a number of residents. … [A recent public feedback campaign] … attracted approximately 1,200 responses, which staff are currently summarizing and analyzing. The results should be available soon. This process has been and will continue to be informed by public input, technical analysis, and our efforts to improve traffic and mobility on city streets.”
The Traffic and Parking Board is scheduled to hear staff’s recommendation on Monday, June 24, starting at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers as City Hall. The public may speak at the meeting.
For more information, visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/central-alexandria-citizens-petition and www.alexandriava.gov/CompleteStreets.