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Cut-through traffic protections along Duke Street could go into effect early next year

The City of Alexandria is looking to move forward with Phase 1 of a pilot program that could help reshape traffic patterns on Duke Street.

The pilot program will start in Phase 1 with changes to signal timing on Quaker Lane and along Duke Street for routes to Telegraph Road, an access point to I-395 that sees frequent backup during rush hour periods.

According to a presentation to the Traffic and Parking Board, the pilot would increase signal timing for traffic on Quaker Lane and closer to the Duke Street-Telegraph Road interchange while decreasing signal timing on side streets during the afternoon rush hour, from 4-7 p.m.

The goal is to cut down on cut-through traffic going through the nearby neighborhoods, which locals have said makes life miserable for those in neighborhoods just north of the crowded interchange. The pilot would, in theory, make cutting through slower and a less attractive option.

The first phase of the pilot would run through March 2022.

If the first phase of the pilot achieves those goals, it could come back later that year for Phase 2, which would re-implement those changes starting in August and would prohibit access to Telegraph road from West Taylor Run Parkway — a connecting street just north of the interchange and one where residents blame cut-through traffic for repeated crashes.

The presentation reiterated that the goal of the pilot is to keep the traffic to I-495 off the neighborhood streets and on arterial roads.

It won’t all be roses, though, and the city warned the pilot could have some growing pains for locals.

“In the first few weeks, more vehicles could queue on neighborhood streets until they realize those routes are not faster,” the city said. “If you live in the neighborhood and want to access Duke Street before 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., it could take you longer.”

Overall the presentation said the city will monitor the impact of the pilot to see if there’s a decrease in travel times on arterial routes and an increase of travel times on neighborhood streets, and to see whether traffic increases on nearby Quaker Lane as drivers adjust.

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