The infamous Dowden Terrace barricade in Alexandria got a thumbs down in the Virginia Senate this afternoon, despite an impassioned appeal to save the residential neighborhood from "a flood of automobile traffic" from Fairfax County.

About the only thing state Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr. (R-Alexandria) got for his oratorical efforts were laughs. His opponent of the moment, state Sen. Adelard L. Brault (D-Fairfax), got a 30-to-9 victory for his bill, which would ultimately force Alexandria to open Dowden Terrace to commuter traffic to and from Washington.

"These thousands of automobiles en route to D.C. care not one whit for the quality of this pristine neighborhood," thundered Mitchell. "It's just a way for the people who live in Fairfax County to save a couple of minutes on their way to Washington and back."

The Dowden Terrace barricade was erected more than a year ago after commuters on Columbia Pike at Baileys Crossroads began using the quiet community street as a short cut to i-95.

After prefacing his remarks with the admission that "it's easy to be overly dramatic on this," Mitchell continued to draw guffaws from the chamber with his hyperbole.

"Dowden Terrace is populated by real people who have flesh and blood . . . their children like to laugh and play and breathe the free air," said Mitchell, who accused Fairfax County of closing some of its streets to commuter traffic.

Brault, whose bill sets up procedures localities must follow before they close streets shared by two jurisdictions, argued today that Alexandria had "taken it upon itself to erect a barricade which blocks the secondary roads system."

The bill, expected to be approved by the House, could be moot if the state highway department goes ahead with a request from both jurisdictions to build a connection to i-95.

In the meantime, said Mitchell with a gleam in his eye, the folks living on Dowden Terrace may have to resort to speed bumps or turn their road into a one-way street -- going the wrong way -- during rush hours.