A Safer Seminary Road coming soon!

The Alexandria City Council voted to re-configure Seminary Road to three lanes, with a center left-turn lane and bike lanes. The new design will encourage safer vehicle speeds, provide pedestrian crosswalks with signals pedestrians can activate and refuge islands  at bus stops. It will also provide buffered bike lanes which will also serve as a buffer between people on narrow sidewalks and motor vehicles.

After hours of public testimony Saturday, September 14, the council narrowly voted to uphold an appeal submitted by Seminary Hill residents and overturn the Traffic and Parking Board recommendation on June 24th to retain four lanes. Council voted 4 to 3 to select Alternative 3, with one through-lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and buffered bike lanes. City staff had recommended the Traffic and Parking Board’s four-lane option, but the City’s Transportation Commission, Environmental Policy Commission and the Alexandria Transit Company (DASH bus) Board endorsed Alternative 3.  More than 1,200 Alexandria residents had signed a petition for Alternative 3 and the majority of the roughly 100 speakers at Saturday’s hearing spoke in favor of Alternative 3. The Fire Chief (Acting) stated that Alternative 3 would be be optimal for emergency response. Thirteen Civic Associations opposed the road reconfiguration to three lanes.

We want to express our many thanks to the Seminary Hill residents who organized the appeal and petition efforts, and engaged Council members. Every member of City Council walked at least a portion on Seminary Road with residents to see conditions for their perspectives.  Thanks also to the many individuals who supported Alternative 3 such as citizen members of the Commission on Aging and the Commission on Persons with Disabilities, volunteer organizations such as the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria and Alexandria Families for Safe Streets, and families and youth in the project area.

Last but not least, we want to thank all of our elected officials for their engagement with residents on the Seminary Road project and thoughtful consideration of all of the issues. We  encourage our readers to personally thank them:

Mayor Justin Wilson (justin.wilson@alexandriava.gov);

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker (elizabeth.bennettparker@alexandriava.gov);

Council member Canek Aguirre (Canek.Aguirre@alexandriava.gov)

Council member John Chapman (john.taylor.chapman@alexandriava.gov)

Council member Amy Jackson (Amy.Jackson@alexandriava.gov)

Council member Del Pepper (del.pepper@alexandriava.gov)

Council member Mo Seifeldein (mo.seifeldein@alexandriava.gov )

More details are provided below in an excerpt from a WTOP article:

“The city’s traffic and parking board also narrowly supported keeping Seminary Road at four lanes, influenced in part by the desires of west end residents.

But others argued that speed on the road has spiraled out of control, endangering pedestrians and civilians.

“Cars whiz by me at almost double the legal speed limit,” argued Judith Fogel. “Many drivers are also distracted and peeking at their phones. The sidewalk I walk on is much too narrow, and there’s no buffer between me and the cars zooming by at a high rate of speed. Two lousy seconds and I’m toast.”

A local preschool teacher, Nicole Radshaw, also argued in favor of narrowing Seminary Road, saying she was hit from behind by a car while riding her bike there in 2016.

“I was struck from behind by a person driving a car,” said Radshaw. “The physical shock of being struck by a two-thousand pound car turned into panic and hysteria. All I remember was … my screaming and shaking and pain and fear that I was going to be run over again…”

After a six-hour debate, the changes passed with a vote of four in favor to three opposing.”