ALEXANDRIA,VA-Remember about 10 years ago when the Alexandria City Council approved a pilot program for a pedestrian zone in the 100 and 200 blocks of King Street? Business owners and residents weren’t too pleased about it, but reception from the visiting public was otherwise positive.
Now, however, with Waterfront Park open at the foot of King Street and the Tall Ship Providence docked at the waterfront, Mayor Justin Wilson and Councilman John Chapman think that it’s the perfect time to bring back the pedestrian zone.
“We will be conducting a public process over the winter to solicit input, determine the challenges and devise mitigation,” said Wilson, who believes that the project can expand outdoor dining in the area. “I think our previous implementation had some challenges; although it was very popular. We will be learning from those issues to make sure this is successful.”
The city will be collecting input from residents and, facing likely approval by council, would be in effect by next spring.
Over the summer, Bert Ely, former vice president of the Old Town Civic Association, said that 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.”