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Alexandria wants the Duke Street Traffic Mitigation pilot to be permanent

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

Alexandria transportation officials say that a pilot program to ease evening congestion on and around Duke Street is working and they want to make the changes permanent.

City staff announced last night (Wednesday) that the first and second phases of the Duke Street Traffic Mitigation pilot have improved evening peak traffic and reduced cut-through traffic near the busy roadway. The project launched last summer with extended green traffic lights on Quaker Lane and Duke Street from 4 to 6 p.m., while green lights were shortened on West Taylor Run Parkway, Cambridge Road, Yale Drive and Fort Williams Parkway.

“We did have very positive results on cut-through traffic for most roads,” said Dan Scalese, a senior transportation manager with the city. “This has been a benefit. We’ve seen reductions in cut-through [traffic] and that Duke Street is moving.”

Traffic volumes decreased on Cambridge Road by 48%; on West Taylor Run Parkway by 54%; on Yale Drive by 76% and on Fort Williams Parkway by 47%. Cut-through traffic did increase, however, on Quaker Lane by 39%.

“We obviously saw more Quaker Lane backup,” Scalese said. “Our next step is to essentially going to a maintenance-type mode, (where) this is now considered a permanent infrastructure feature. We will be monitoring the networks, not just one area, and tweaking as necessary.”

City staff will discuss the mitigation phases in a meeting at Bishop Ireton High School on Monday, April 17. The proposal then goes to the Traffic and Parking Board at 7 p.m. at City Hall on Monday, April 24.

In the meantime, city planners are also working on ways to improve bus transit — as well as bicycle and pedestrian facilities — along Duke Street from Landmark Mall to the King Street Metro Station.

Dubbed Duke Street in Motion, the project proposes a series of congestion-relieving changes such as dedicated bus lanes along the center of the road or the curb and bus-rapid transit stations every half-mile.

City Council is expected to approve a preferred alternative for the project in July.

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