Alexandria sets its sights on Eisenhower Avenue overhaul

Eisenhower Avenue’s days at the hot-spot for local drag racing could be coming to an end soon.

At a Transportation Commission meeting last week, Senior Transportation Engineer Dan Scolese laid out plans to potentially reduce lanes at the western end of Eisenhower Avenue to install new bicycle lanes and improved transit options.

Scolese said at the west end of Eisenhower Avenue, the intersection with Van Dorn Street causes backups along Van Dorn Street and pedestrians said it’s difficult to access the Metro station.

“Another really big issues is accessibility,” Scolese said. ” We’ve consistently heard it’s difficult to get to the metro. At the western end, there’s nothing to address accessibilty in the sidewalks. West of Telegraph is uncomfortable; we don’t have access for bikes or scooters.”

The project’s website said new plans for the intersection include:

  1. For the intersection of Van Dorn Street and Eisenhower Avenue, relocate the left turns from southbound Van Dorn Street to eastbound Eisenhower Avenue and from westbound Eisenhower Avenue to southbound Van Dorn Street. These movements will use the ramps from Van Dorn Street to Metro Road, located to the north of the intersection. This will improve traffic flow and operations at the intersection.
  2. Construct a new sidewalk on the south side of Eisenhower Avenue from Van Dorn Street to the Van Dorn Metro Station by reducing capacity and re-utilizing one lane on eastbound Eisenhower Avenue between Van Dorn Street and Metro Road. The new sidewalk will provide a direct pedestrian connection to the Metro station, eliminating the need to cross Eisenhower Avenue.
  3. Improve the bus stop on the south side of Eisenhower Avenue (adjacent to eastbound traffic) near Van Dorn Street. The new sidewalk will add better connectivity to the transit stop and allow for a transit shelter similar to the bus stop on the opposite side of Eisenhower Avenue.
  4. Build a two-way cycle track along the north side of Eisenhower Avenue from the Van Dorn Metro Station to Van Dorn Street. The cycle track will be approximately 1,700′ in length and include two 5′-wide lanes. Future projects will build connections along Van Dorn Street and east to Holmes Run.

The area toward the middle of Eisenhower Avenue, Scolese said, is also a hotbed of drag racing, particularly from the Holmes Run Trail to Telegraph Road.

“What we’ve heard here is speeding and [it’s dangerous] crossing the road,” Scolese said. “From what [the Alexandria Police Department] says, it’s prime real estate for drag racing.”

Scolese said, because there’s seldom congestion on that section of the road during the day, the city is considering extending the bike lanes considered on the west end of Eisenhower Avenue further east.

Finally, while Scolese said much of the current planning is focused on getting central and western Eisenhower Avenue caught up with the infrastructure work at the east end of the street, there are other projects in the work at the east end: including replacing the intimidating, dimly lit tunnel connecting Eisenhower Avenue to Duke Street. The tunnel has occasionally been called the tetanus tunnel, and not without good reason.

“On the east end [of Eisenhower Avenue] there are issues, but it’s the area with the most identified projects funded,” Scolese said. “We want to provide other connections besdies the tunnel. On that one, we have to work with [the Virginia Department of Transportation].”

A survey about the city’s Eisenhower Avenue plans is available online through May 10.

Image via Google Maps