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Expanded King Street pedestrian zone to start this weekend

Rendering of the unit block of King Street with street closure, image via City of Alexandria

Alexandria’s King Street pedestrian zone initiative is getting a boost this weekend as the zone’s size will double for the next few months.

The pilot was approved by the City Council in April and will run from this Friday, May 27, through Monday Sept. 5 — Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day weekend.

The pedestrian zone will be expanded to temporarily convert the unit block of King Street, between Union Street and the Strand, into a car-free zone with in-street dining similar to the zone on the 100 block of King Street. A release from the city said it will be closed to all vehicular traffic except emergency and municipal maintenance vehicles. Visitors are also encouraged to walk their bicycles and scooters in the area.

There’s precedent for the pilot project to become permanent if it goes well. The pedestrian zone on the 100 block of King Street started as a pilot project in 2020 but became permanent in 2021.

The full city release is below the jump:

Come enjoy the newest improvement to the Waterfront area! In response to business requests, the popularity of the treatments to the 100 block of King Street, and increased activity along the Waterfront, the City of Alexandria will conduct a pilot project to temporarily convert the unit block of King Street (between Union Street and the Strand) and the northern portion of the Strand (approximately between Wales Alley and King Street) to a pedestrian zone from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day. These areas will feature in-street dining, similar to the 100 block of King.

During the pilot, which runs from Friday, May 27, through Monday, September 5, the pedestrian zone will be closed to all vehicular traffic (except emergency and municipal maintenance vehicles). The City is also encouraging visitors to walk bicycles and scooters in this area. Parking will still be available along the Waterfront Park on the Strand. Two of these spaces will be reserved for a vehicle turnaround area.

City Council approved this pilot project during its April 23 public hearing. On April 7, the Planning Commission found that that this pedestrian zone is consistent with the City’s Master Plan. The Waterfront Small Area plan contains three separate recommendations to convert this area to a pedestrian zone.

Pedestrian zones have become common in many cities across the U.S. — most famously along Broadway in Manhattan and Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C., but also in smaller cities such as Madison, WI, Burlington, VT, and Santa Monica, CA. These zones are also common in most European cities and towns, and in major cities in Latin America and Asia.

Throughout the summer, staff will work with businesses to make improvements and address any unanticipated issues that arise. In late summer, staff will gather input to assess the pilot’s success and determine next steps.

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