Bridge Construction Consumes Burgundy Citgo

Bridge Construction Consumes Burgundy Citgo

Service station is forced to close due to construction associated with Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.

This week marks the end of a 15-year institution on Telegraph Road. Another victim of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, Burgundy Citgo Service Station will enter local history Aug. 15.

"The Telegraph Road location has been so good. When we close the gas, customers are going to back up onto Telegraph Road because there are hardly any stations left in this entire area," said Dave Mahmood, owner of the station at 5644 Telegraph Road.

Although the station may be fading from view, Mahmood and his employees are not. As the sign in the station's front window states, they are moving to Mobil Service Station, 2838 Duke St.

"In fact we are already operating in our new location. We were originally told by VDOT that we would be closing as of March 15. So we bought the new location in March. Then it was delayed until May. Now, it's official, it's Aug. 15," Mahmood said.

"We have many permanent customers that count on us for both gasoline and auto repairs. Many of them don't want to go over to the new location because of the traffic on Duke Street," he said.

"From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. the traffic really backs up and I'm worried about business during those hours. It's bumper to bumper. You can hardly get in and out of the station," Mahmood said.

The move has already taken its toll on one long-time employee. Abad Rehman worked for Mahmood for 14 years. He left in June due to the pending move.

However, Mohammad Ismal, the station's auto inspector, who has been with Mahmood for six years, and Murtaza Shahid, mechanic/cashier, a two-year employee, both intend to make the move to the new location. But, Ismal said, "I don't like this move. I've been in this neighborhood for 19 years. I hate to leave here."

TRIGGERING THE MOVE is the planned new Telegraph Road Interchange of the Capital Beltway which is part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project. However, it is not intended to commence until the entire bridge element is completed in an estimated six years.

"It's crazy to have us move now. It makes no sense. I suggested that rather than tear up all this road, the highway department should have connected Telegraph Road to the beltway with a fly-over that could have come in a little further south over vacant land without spending all this money to buy these businesses," Mahmood said.

In addition to the Citgo location another service station and restaurant have been closed in preparation for the planned highway construction. With the stations already closed on Route 1, just south of the Beltway, the new closures on Telegraph Road leave only two stations for travelers immediately south of the Beltway.

"I definitely will be going to the new location but it certainly won't be as convenient," Deborah Hansell, a customer since 1994, said. "I depend on these people and trust them to maintain my car. I tried somebody else once and was very disappointed. I came back and have been very loyal ever since."

Len Melka, a resident of Burgundy Village, immediately behind the station's location, said, "They (VDOT) are taking a very good shop out of the area. I've been a customer for 10 years and they are very good to work with."

Melka intends to follow Mahmood to the new location because, "They do most of my work. But, it would be nearly as convenient."

Many of Mahmood's customers live in the Burgundy Village and Huntington Club sections of Alexandria within walking distance of the Huntington Metro Station. As he said, "Many could drop their cars off here, walk to Metro and pick them up on their way home. That won't happen at the new location."

Jennifer White, another nearby resident, said, "We went to the station because of Dave. We could always count on him and trust him." She and her husband also plan to patronize Mahmood at his Duke Street location.

Bennie Burns uses the station primarily to buy gasoline going to and from work because it's 30 cents cheaper than at the other nearby stations. But, as for going to the new location, "It's a long way to go just to get gas," Burns said.

Mahmood said he pumps 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of gasoline per day with only two pumps. "When we close there's going to be a big impact on the remaining stations. And, it's going to be a serious impact on traffic with people trying get in and out," Mahmood said.

HE PLANS TO OPERATE the new location on the same hours. Repairs will be done from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Gasoline sales will operate from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. There are four pumps at the Duke Street site.

Although the new location is larger in square footage, the bay doors are in the rear of the building. "Because the doors are in the rear, the City of Alexandria won't let us do any mechanical work in the front of the station. This makes it a lot more difficult due to the lack of turning space in the back," he said.

Mahmood claims the price he was paid by VDOT for his Telegraph Road station was only about one half what he had to pay for the new location. "They claim they are paying all this money, but it can't come close to the new location costs, plus all the moving costs and potential loss of business," he said.

Although he has lost several employees through the elongated transition, he plans to be back up to a full complement at the new station soon after the move is completed. "But, at the new location all my technicians are going to be on commission. This will make it easier for me," Mahmood said.

"Some are already on commission, such as Mohammad and others. It's only fair to have it all one way or the other," he said.