“I think the shutdown is going as well as can be expected. I ride metro/DASH, etc nearly every single day, and I spent quite a bit of time talking to residents about their experiences,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson told The Zebra. “Folks have found new routines. While it’s often a little slower, it’s becoming predictable, which is a good thing.”
In case you missed it, all of Alexandria’s Metro stations – from Braddock Road to Huntington – have been shut down all summer for much-needed track work. The city advised commuters to tack on an extra half hour to their commutes, and offered subsidized water taxis to D.C. from the Alexandria waterfront, reduced parking rates at city garages, and expanded DASH and WMATA bus routes.
“The construction activity appears to be on schedule,” Wilson said. “I actually spoke with the WMATA general manager this morning and they remain on track for Sept. 8. We just need to hope the weather stays good.”
Hillary Orr, deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said that the first major adjustments to the city’s response to the commuting nightmare were done in the first few weeks. Metro’s 11Y bus, which runs through Alexandria to D.C., for instance, was packed. “We know that the shutdown was going to be a challenge to people and it was going to add time to their commute, but what we are seeing is that all of the mitigation measures that we put in place have been pretty successful,” Orr said. “The 11Y was often full, and so we heard from the community on that and we worked with WMATA to add another 11Y bus to the route.”
The city also doubled the number of parking permits at Landmark Mall to 400. Parking at city-run garages also rose 12 percent from this time last year, Orr said. Additionally, more than 1,500 commuters have bought their fares on DASH’s new app.
“We haven’t heard a lot of feedback since the first few weeks,” Orr said. “I think people are figuring out what their commute options are and have settled in with that for the summer.”