Beauregard routes eyed

By Christy Goodman
Thursday, January 27, 2011; T14

Alexandria and transportation consultants are studying seven bus or streetcar routes through the Beauregard corridor area.

"We're trying to make sure this is something that will serve Alexandrians but also remove cars" from the streets, said Rich Baier, Alexandria's transportation chief.

The Beauregard corridor is the first of three that the city will study. Duke Street and Route 1 are the others.

Construction cost estimates for the seven preliminary routes through the Beauregard area, announced last week, range from $15 million to $180 million. The routes either start at the end of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar route or connect to the Pentagon and Shirlington by running down the Interstate 395 high-occupancy vehicle lanes. All the routes connect to the Van Dorn Metro station and have possible connections to Kingstowne.

Rapid bus and streetcar routes that travel in traffic, as well as bus rapid transit and streetcar routes with primarily dedicated lanes and mixtures of bus and streetcar routes, will be examined over the next several months.

"We are trying to think bigger than just Alexandria," Baier said. "We cannot solve transportation issues by connecting inward only. We have to connect regionally."

Consultants will test each scenario for a variety of criteria, including service to population centers, impact on properties and streetscapes, potential ridership and costs. Baier said the city should select a route by summer.

In the meantime, Alexandria is collecting data on the density of future projects in the city's west end, as well as engineering and environmental information to lay the groundwork for applying for federal grants to help pay for the projects, Baier said.

Fairfax County and Alexandria have been sharing information on Mark Center transportation and parking plans, as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure program. Fairfax officials are beginning corridor studies along Route 236 and Van Dorn and Beauregard streets, said Mark Canale, the county's BRAC coordinator.

Fewer than half of the Mark Center workers will come from Fairfax, Canale said. And those corridors "are the obvious place to get off" I-395, if the Seminary Road intersection does not work efficiently, he said.

Fairfax officials also are looking to establish a residential stakeholder group to gather input on the county's plan to deal with effects of the Mark Center.

Virginia Department of Transportation officials have been working on a series of short-term and midterm improvements for the Seminary Road and I-395 intersection. The projects have no funding, but the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority has endorsed them; budget amendments have been made in the General Assembly; and funding requests have been made to the Department of Defense, said David Dexter, head of Alexandria's BRAC-133 Advisory Group.

A proposal for $20 million in road improvements was among several suggestions made to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in a letter sent last week from Reps. James P. Moran Jr. and Gerald E. Connolly and Sens. James Webb and Mark Warner, all Virginia Democrats.

Alexandria is waiting for a response from Army officials regarding whether they will subsidize the DASH bus rehabilitation and express service from the King Street Metro station to the Mark Center. The city also is waiting to hear whether some rules regarding federal road reimbursements could be waived to help pay for projects.

Paul McMahon, director of the BRAC program office for Washington Headquarters Service, which will be the largest federal agency coming to the Mark Center building, said the issues could be resolved by Monday.

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