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Alexandria Mayor outlines city strategies on fighting cut-through traffic

Traffic backed up off Duke Street, courtesy Jill Hoffman

(Updated 8/3) The City of Alexandria is moving forward with the next stage of a pilot program to keep traffic on Duke Street and off residential streets, but Mayor Justin Wilson said in a recent newsletter that this is the start of a broader effort targeting cut-through traffic.

Wilson said the issue of congestion’s impact on the quality of life for Alexandrians came up during an update to the Alexandria Mobility Plan in 2021.

“The data collection that was performed for the Central Alexandria Traffic Study revealed that a relatively small number of residential streets were carrying inordinate amounts of ‘cut-through’ traffic,” Wilson wrote, “mostly using those streets to access the Telegraph interchange with the Beltway.”

The study found that:

  • Of the vehicles coming from Seminary Road and Quaker Lane, roughly half use Quaker Lane to access the Telegraph Road ramp and half use local streets, namely Cambridge Road, Yale Drive and West Taylor Run Parkway.
  • Of the vehicles coming from Seminary Road, 16% use Jordan Street (5%) or Fort Williams Parkway (11%). Roughly 35% use Quaker Lane and about half use local streets that are east of Quaker Lane.
  • Of the vehicles coming from King Street, about 85% use West Taylor Run Parkway with most of the rest using Cambridge Road (13%).

Earlier this year, a pilot program implemented changes to light timing on Duke Street, Quaker Lane, and the connected side streets in an effort to disincentivize using the side streets to get around traffic on the arterial roads.

According to Wilson, the data from that pilot was generally positive:

  • Overall volume on the Telegraph Road ramp was down by 14%
  • Travel times for all routes were faster than before, but were about 35% faster using Quaker Lane and 20% faster on West Taylor Run
  • Cut through traffic on Quaker Lane increased by 23%
  • Cut through traffic on West Taylor Run and Cambridge Road decreased by 47% and 73%, respectively.
  • Cut through traffic on Yale Drive, with the new “no left turn” restriction in place, decreased by 96%, from 706 vehicles in the peak to 31​
  • Cut through traffic on Fort Williams Parkway decreased substantially, by 81%, from 171 vehicles to 32

One of the decidedly unscientific ALXnow polls indicated that 49% of respondants wanted the signal changes to be made permanent, while another 33% wanted to see wait to see how phase two would impact traffic.

That second phase of the pilot is in the works, which would bring back the light timing but also limit access from West Taylor Run Parkway to Telegraph Road.

“The plan is to assess the impact, collect data and engage with the community to ensure these changes achieve the results they are designed to create,” Wilson wrote. “Our City staff will be discussing the Phase 2 pilot at a Clover College Park Civic Association meeting on August 10th. This meeting is open to the public.”

The City is going to be hosting their own virtual meeting on this project on August 11.

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