A plan to run part of Washington Boulevard under Wilson Boulevard in Arlington's Clarendon Metro-stop commercial area has angered nearby residents, who say the underpass would turn the area into a "concrete canyon."
The $2.5 million project, tentatively slated for 1989, is on the county's major thoroughfare plan, which the County Board plans to review Saturday, and residents want it removed from the agenda.
The county staff is recommending the board delay action until July 9.
Under the plan, Washington Boulevard would run under Wilson Boulevard from Highland Street to about 200 feet west of Wilson Boulevard. There would be ramps to Wilson Boulevard.
Wilson, a four-lane, two-way street, would be expanded to two one-way streets with three lanes each. Washington Boulevard would remain two lanes in each direction.
The eastbound Wilson lanes would be built by the Olmsted Foundation, which hopes to break ground in June on a 14-story building on a tract bordered by Highland Street and Washington and Wilson boulevards.
The foundation wants to put its loading dock on Highland. Neighbors want it on Washington Boulevard on grounds it would interfere less with pedestrians.
"We are trying, as we develop Clarendon, to make it into a pedestrian-oriented commercial and office area," said Jean Meek, who lives nearby.
"By putting all this around, you're destroying the pedestrian view and access and substantially changing the character of the area."
Larry Blackwood, president of the Ballston-Clarendon Civic Association, said the project is "an awful idea. It would create a concrete canyon in the middle of the community. We would like to have an area where people can walk around comfortably."
Henry S. Hulme, the county's public works director, said that as development around the Clarendon Metro station increases, "Arlington County has a responsibility to provide adequate traffic circulation."
Wilson Boulevard carries 20,000 cars a day and that number is expected to more than double by the end of the decade. Washington Boulevard's traffic is expected to increase from 17,000 cars a day to more than 22,000.
Hulme noted the county has designed pedestrian walkways across the roads. He said if the two boulevards intersect at a traffic light, "that would mean congestion and delay and motorists would tend to use the neighborhood streets more."
Hulme said it would be foolhardy to put the Olmsted loading dock on a heavily used road, such as Washington Boulevard, because it would tie up traffic.
"We cannot continue to reduce vehicle capacity in the Metro corridor and at the same time implement the land use plans that attract traffic," he said. "And there is no plan you can implement that won't attract traffic." Hulme said the County Board could amend the project.