Alexandria, VA – Is Old Town getting a little congested? Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson and City Councilor John Taylor Chapman are proposing a pedestrian zone at the 100 and/or 200 blocks of King Street.
“Thirteen years ago, the City conducted a trial on four weekends of a closure to vehicles of the 100-block of King Street,” Wilson wrote in a May 14 memo to City Council. “The pilot was deemed a success by an overwhelming portion of residents and visitors, but had mixed reviews from the businesses in the corridor. I believe that a new look at this concept as a permanent feature is warranted and can be beneficial to businesses, residents and visitors.”
Bert Ely is the former vice president of the Old Town Civic Association, has lived in Old Town for the last 38 years, and thinks the plan is a bad idea.
“I remember very well when they tried it before, and the objections will be the same. First of all, it creates traffic problems on adjacent streets, and adds parking problems on those streets,” Ely said. “Where are Lyft and Uber going to drop people off? It’s just going to add to the congestion – and there’s all these food delivery third party companies. Where will all those drivers double-park to pick up deliveries? Food delivery services were not factors when they looked at this before, but they are today.”
Wilson announced the plan in his monthly email newsletter, and asked for residents to send him feedback.
“We view this moment as the perfect time to see these blocks, connecting Market Square with our Waterfront, as not just roads to carry cars, but vital space to support commerce, visitation and the history of our community,” Wilson wrote. “I am optimistic that such a proposal would expand outdoor dining in the corridor, provide active programming in the area, and become a signature area for our City.”