The City of Alexandria is at a crossroads: City policies require providing safe accommodations for all road users, particularly for people who walk and bike. The safest option for Seminary Road provides a three-lane configuration with center left turn lanes for drivers, pedestrian refuge islands for people who walk, and bike lanes for people who bike. The City’s Traffic and Parking Board narrowly recommended maintaining four motor vehicle lanes prioritizing motor vehicles, rather than safety and multi-modal transportation. Send a note supporting a three-lane configuration with bike lanes on Seminary Road to let Alexandria officials know that residents support safe streets for everyone. Ask Alexandria’s Mayor and City Council to direct the T&ES Director to implement a three-lane solution for Seminary Road, to provide safe accommodations for all road users consistent with City plans and policies
The City Council-approved Transportation Master Plan and Complete Streets policy emphasize safety for all users and prioritize multimodal transportation, including walking, biking and use of transit. The city’s Environmental Action Plan prioritizes low-carbon mobility options, specifically, a “…transportation system that puts the health, mobility, and accessibility of ‘people first’… with the following level of precedence: pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation, shared motor vehicles and private motor vehicles.” In March, 2019 city transportation planners proposed reconfiguring a section of Seminary Road, consistent with these plans and policies, a four-to-three lane reconfiguration. The three-lane configuration would apply an FHWA proven safety measure with features including a center left-turn lane for drivers, buffer space and refuge islands for people who walk or take the bus, and bike lanes for people who bike, all without adding to congestion. This section of roadway has excess capacity: traffic is already constrained to one lane in each direction at entrances to the project area
That said, on June 24, the City of Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board voted 3 to 2 to maintain four lanes for motor vehicles, as advocated by multiple civic associations, in spite of city staff evaluation of the three-lane option as best meeting project criteria and a 2-to-1 majority of speakers at the hearing requesting a three-lane alternative. A group of residents in the Seminary Road area have appealed the Board’s decision to the Mayor and City Council; they argue that the three-lane configuration is most consistent with City Transportation, Environmental and Complete Streets policies, was the highest-scoring alternative that best meets project goals and objectives, and is the best option for reducing excessive vehicle speeds. The City Council is expected to make a final decision on September 14. Letters and phone calls from residents will help convince Alexandria elected officials that they should demonstrate their commitment to safety and City plans and policies by directing a three-lane solution for Seminary Road.