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Dedicated bus lanes could come to parts of Duke Street

Traffic backup heading eastbound along Duke Street near Eisenhower Ave (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria’s Duke Street transitway could have dedicated bus lanes, but it’s unlikely they’ll run the full length of the corridor.

At a presentation to the City Council on Monday, city staff offered a look at how plans for the Duke Street transitway plans are coming together.

The idea of the transitway is to redesign the streetscape to better facilitate public transit. The project looks at Duke Street between the Landmark area and the King Street Metro.

Hillary Orr, deputy director of Transportation & Environmental Services, and project manager Jen Monaco said an advisory group suggested dedicated bus lanes at either end of the project area, but possibly keeping buses mixed into the regular flow of traffic towards the center of that corridor — between Jordan Street and Roth Street.

“At either end, [we’re looking at] at design options that do the most for transit: center and curb running,” said Monaco. “In the middle of the corridor, where taking more space means greater impacts on property, they chose to look at mixed traffic and a bidirectional option. We’re combining these options for each segment into two end-to-end corridor alternatives to allow for a more complete analysis.”

Suggested layout of Duke Street transitway by Duke Street Transitway Advisory Group (image via City of Alexandria)

Where the city could install dedicated bus lanes, that could take a travel lane away from cars.

“Right now there are three travel lanes plus alternatives and even more at some intersections,” Orr said. “We are looking at taking one of those lanes in each direction and converting them into bus lanes.”

Monaco said the goal is to bring a recommendation to the City Council this summer.

The transitway is part of a broader suite of improvements for Duke Street. Orr noted that Duke Street is the highest crash corridor in the city.

“There are a lot of real issues with this corridor,” Orr said. “It’s a central connection for our community to reach homes, businesses, jobs, parks and libraries, but there is a lot of traffic congestion that leads to cut-through traffic in neighborhoods.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said one of his hopes for the project is to fix some of the crash-prone and all-around terrible intersections where Duke Street crosses Jordan Street and Quaker Lane.

“At both of those intersections could end up with solutions that become the focal points of the project… Jordan especially because of the service roads and the complexity of that,” said Wilson. “It’s a mess for pedestrians and a mess for drivers. It’s a horrible intersection for drivers. Anything we can do to improve the flow through there is a real opportunity for us. While this is a transit project, it’s a project that could have some significant ancillary benefits to pedestrians and drivers throughout this corridor.”

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