The following were among actions taken by the Alexandria City Council at its Jan. 26 meeting. For further information, call 838-4300.
HOV LANES ON RTE. 1 CHANGED -- The council voted unanimously to loosen requirements for the HOV lanes on Rte. 1, starting Feb. 1, to permit cars with two or more passengers to use the lanes. The lanes are now restricted in rush hour to cars with three or more passengers.
The vote came after widespread complaints that the HOV lanes, which were instituted Jan. 4, have caused massive traffic jams, particularly just south of the city on Rte. 1, Fort Hunt Road and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
The change will affect not only Alexandria residents, but a substaintial number of commuters from Fairfax, Prince William and Prince George's counties who drive through the city to jobs in Washington.
Mayor James P. Moran voted to relax the HOV restrictions, but said he favors dropping all HOV restrictions because he believes the lanes are underused.
"The situation now is intolerable," Moran said. "People are talking about boycotting Alexandria and Alexandria merchants to make us aware" of the commuting problems.
Three airborne traffic reporters from local radio stations also attended the meeting to complain about the serious traffic back-ups that have resulted since the HOV lanes opened.
"We have noticed delays have doubled and in some cases tripled due to the HOV lanes," said Jim Russ, a traffic reporter for WTOP radio.
However, Alexandria Transportation Director Dayton Cook, who supports the HOV lanes, said the inconvenience is necessary to encourage people to use car pools. He also said that some recent traffic problems have been caused not just by the HOV lanes but by problems with the city's computerized traffic signal system.
"The solution of our growth problems can only be in car pools," Cook said. "We said car pools would not come overnight. We said if you can't stick it out" when commuters protest, then the city shouldn't adopt traffic regulations that encourage car pools.
Council members agreed to hold a public hearing later this month to determine if the HOV lanes should be scrapped altogether and also agreed to meet with Fairfax County officials later this year to discuss the problem.