Planning Commission chair says Alexandria needs to step up its federal grants game to make transit corridors a reality

Van Dorn Street (image via Google Maps)

If Alexandria wants the transit corridors it dreams of, Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek said it’s going to need to do more to secure federal funding.

In a budget discussion at the Planning Commission meeting last week, Macek noted that there is “no plan to pursue federal money” for two of the major transit corridors in the city budget.

Transitway corridors are areas where the city is hoping to implement “enhanced transit services” like bus rapid transit, a streetcar, dedicated bus lanes and more. Corridor B is the Duke Street / Eisenhower Avenue corridor. Corridor C is the Van Dorn Street / Beauregard Street corridor.

Macek said in the meeting that the funding set aside for transit development on those corridors is all local and regional funding.

“I will make, at every call, every opportunity I have, the call that we should be pursuing federal money for these projects,” Macek said.

Macek said he has concerns that the city is missing out on a chance to make those transit on those corridors better.

“My concern with the way we’re deploying BRT is we’re so content to make it happen with local and regional, and we’re not pursuing federal money that could help make this a real, functional, better bus rapid transit,” Macek said. “Totally missing that opportunity to pursue federal funds that could help us address the issues we have in these corridors.”

Staff told Macek at the meeting that one of the limits of the budget is it doesn’t show what avenues are being pursued, just what’s secure in the budget. Staff said efforts are underway to lock down federal funding for transit corridors.

Macek noted the Van Dorn Street Corridor in particular, which is seeing an upswing in new projects like the Vulcan property development, could benefit from federal funding for transit needs and possible widening.

“When we’re only working with local and regional money, we necessarily limit the scope of what we can accomplish because of that,” Macek said.

Photo via Google Maps