Arlington, Alexandria join forces on planning

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Officials from Arlington County and Alexandria will discuss several projects Thursday that could benefit from a county-city partnership, including future transportation networks along the Route 1 and Beauregard Street corridors.

Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D) said Arlington and Alexandria have huge development projects along Route 1, as well as other economic development planned in their areas. Planning between the jurisdictions is a must, he said.

"The emphasis here is [to] have interconnectivity, accessibility and multimodal transportation options available to all of us," Euille said.

Officials from both jurisdictions will meet at 7 p.m. in the second-floor conference room of the Parks and Natural Resources Division, 2700 S. Taylor St., in Arlington.

The Beauregard and Van Dorn Street area will be the first focus of a three-corridor transitway study in Alexandria. The city is working on a future land-use plan in the area, said Rich Baier, Alexandria's transportation chief.

Arlington officials are considering ending their Columbia Pike streetcar line in Fairfax County or near Northern Virginia Community College's Alexandria campus, not far from Beauregard.

Alexandria's development plan aims to increase the density in the area and make better road and pedestrian connections. The community is already upset, however, about traffic from federal workers expected at the Mark Center by September from military base relocation. Because no major transportation solutions have been found, more than 400 residents in western Alexandria have signed a petition asking that no more density be approved until a transportation plan is in place.

"It is the whole trust thing," said Donald N. Buch, a driving force behind the petition. "I think the city's communications are lousy."

Buch said the city has not lived up to its promises, and its interaction with the community on the Beauregard corridor has been "pretty disastrous."

Baier said the city is working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to come up with short- and long-term solutions to "maximize today's [vehicular] capacity," such as new striping, designated turning lanes and traffic circles.

Route 1 and Duke Street are the other two corridors that will be examined in the study, which should be completed next fall.

Arlington and Alexandria have recently passed major redevelopment plans along Route 1 and have discussed the need for a transitway there. Alexandria has a grant for a dedicated bus route, but officials will discuss the possibility of joining Arlington's request for proposals to do a wider variety of transit analyses in the area.

"Arlington is a step-and-a-half in front of us," Baier told City Council members at a recent work session on the Potomac Yard area.

Vice Mayor Kerry Donley (D) said the goal is to build a system that can be updated or converted without much disruption.

"It has to be seamless," he said. "It doesn't make a whole lot of sense having a streetcar in Arlington and a bus in Alexandria."

Chris Zimmerman (D), an Arlington County Board member, said a lot of transit planning between jurisdictions is ongoing.

"Decisions haven't been made exactly on how things will work out, and there are a lot of ideas on how these things can be extended," Zimmerman said. He said if done correctly, each locality could build its part of "a regional network, ultimately" that moves people efficiently while cutting traffic, improving air quality and minimizing the impact on neighborhoods.

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