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Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street

As Alexandria works through the first stages of its Duke Street transit overhaul, city staff are laying out expectations for what’s being considered for the corridor.

In a public meeting last week, staff presented early plans for a transit-focused overhaul of Duke Street and fielded both questions and some early concerns from residents.

Bike lanes on Alexandria streets have been contentious in the past, but staff said they remain on-the-table for Duke Street, along with “micromobility” options like shared-bicycles.

Mack Schnaufer, the city’s bus-rapid transit (BRT) manager, said a BRT route is being considered for Duke Street and would run from the King Street Metro station to Landmark Mall. Beyong that point lies Fairfax County, which is outside of the project’s jurisdiction.

Schnaufer said he has long-term hopes for more BRT connectivity, and defended the Metroway project after a meeting participant asked why the city is moving forward with BRT when the Metroway never met its ridership goals. Schnaufer said that, Pre-COVID, Metroway has been exceeding its early projections and no ridership goals have been set yet for Duke Street.

“We’re starting to get those discussions of how we can connect different BRT corridors along with Fairfax County,” Schnaufer said. “A lot of their planning is in its infancy, we’re a little bit ahead of them right now, but in the long run I do think these corridors will end up being connected and we’ll have a regional BRT network.”

Much of the concern about bike lanes in other parts of Alexandria — namely the debate over Seminary Road — focused on concerns that the lane reduction would negatively impact car traffic.

“We recognize that cars are not going to be off of Duke Street completely,” said Jennifer Koch from urban design firm Rhodeside & Harwell. “Vehicle movement is something taken into account with this project. People’s priorities for car lanes is definitely something we’re gathering input on in this phase.”

Schnaufer said it’s too early to lay out a timeline for construction of the project, but said it’s likely that BRT will be implemented in the project in phases.

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