Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Save Car Lanes On Seminary Road

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Save Car Lanes On Seminary Road

On May 30, city staff will be bringing their recommendation for the redesign of Seminary Road to a community meeting at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes Upper School. As we await their decision, we want to convey the shared concerns of our civic associations over the city-preferred Alternative 3 proposal, which incorporates a road diet to reduce car travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes, with a center left turn only lane. Why is the city setting up a false choice between safety and traffic flow, as though they are mutually exclusive, and not equally impactful on our quality of life?

As the Clover College Park Civic Association (CCPCA) has written to city staff: “Our residents have expressed concerns that the city is using safety as a reason to propose reducing the number of travel lanes on Seminary, while the city’s data shows this stretch of Seminary Road does not have a major safety problem.” While Seminary Road is one of Alexandria’s busiest arterial roadways, the stretch of road being considered for car lane reductions is actually one of the safest in the city.

Along with CCPCA, the Seminary Hill Association (SHA), the Seminary West Civic Association (SWCA) and the North Ridge Citizens’ Association (NRCA) have studied the city’s three proposals and concluded that none are satisfactory to a majority of our residents. The reality is, a large number of people in north/central Alexandria cannot walk, ride bikes or reach our daily destinations via our meager public transit system. For many seniors, disabled residents and families with children, these are not workable, practical options.

SHA has presented a reasonable compromise to balance pedestrian safety with mobility in Alternative 4, which calls for narrowing the four car-travel lanes to reduce speed, adding crosswalks at bus stops and Ft. Williams Parkway, increasing speed enforcement and creating an additional buffer between pedestrians and car travel.

To be clear: We all want safe city streets, but Alternative 3 is not the right solution. Citizens have submitted a petition signed by more than 1,200 city residents in favor of keeping Seminary Road car lanes intact.

We are the people who must live with the consequences of lane reductions, including cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets and more gridlock. City staff should not ignore the majority of residents who will be affected by this effort and are seeking a balanced approach. Regional bike lobbying groups and national scooter companies should not be able to unfairly influence this process.

We urge city leaders to listen to the voices of our civic associations and maintain Seminary Road with four car travel lanes and reasonable safety improvements. Now is the time for residents to speak up and allow voter voices to be heard. In addition to attending meetings, residents can use the City’s Call, Click, Connect online reporting and comment system (703-746-4357) to register their views.

Clover College Park Civic Association

Seminary Hill Association

Seminary West Civic Association

North Ridge Citizens’ Association