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Mr. Rex Smiles, a dog available for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Alexandria)

In a national ranking of fastest-emerging dog-friendly cities, Alexandria took third place.

The ranking looks both at where dog-owners are registered on the dog boarding and walking site Rover and where there are the most page views of pet-friendly single-family home rental listings on real estate marketplace site Zillow.

The city was beaten by Baltimore, Maryland and Antioch, Tennessee.

It’s not the first time the city has gotten praise for it’s dog care: in January it was listed among 70 best cities for dog care.

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West Glebe Road Bridge (photo via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services)

Like a parachute, a bridge is one of those things you want to be able to rely on, but some of the crossings between Alexandria and Arlington have gotten to such a rough shape that one is now closed to vehicles for at least a year.

The poor state of the West Glebe Road bridge is so well known that federal and state officials from different political parties came together to tour the scene and marvel at the disrepair.

The West Glebe Road bridge isn’t alone, either. Portions of the Four Mile Run Bridge has also had closures, notably closing the sidewalk entirely, with the reconstruction of the bridge not scheduled to start until after work is done on the West Glebe Road bridge.

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(Updated 10 a.m.) One of the items being considered in the upcoming add/delete section of the budget process would add five speed cameras to school crossing zones.

The new cameras are estimated to cost $490,000, which would be paid for in revenue from tickets.

The exact locations of the camera are yet to be determined and would be picked by the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services.

The proposed addition of new speed cameras comes as neighboring D.C. has vowed to triple the number of speed cameras issuing tickets, the Washington Post reported. The process in D.C. involves putting cameras in new locations and replacing non-functioning cameras.

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DASH has been on a roll recently with a variety of factors conspiring to push the bus service up to 300,000 total boardings in March, a 73% increase over ridership last fall.

Some of that’s thanks to changes within the DASH bus system: like eliminating fares and shifting toward a system that prioritizes frequent service in high-density corridors.

Some factors outside of DASH’s control have been windfalls for bus ridership as well, like a recent spike in gas prices at the start of the war in Ukraine and declining Covid cases.

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Budget season is Christmas for local policy wonks with every week providing insight into where the city is and isn’t investing in its future. But municipal budgets can also be a famously boring topic.

The annual budget can include some insight into the city’s priorities. This year, for instance, the budget finally includes funding for a police body camera program after being proposed as far back as 2015.

Some of the budget changes could also have a profound impact on the bill for local taxpayers. Mayor Justin Wilson recently proposed a one-time measure that would alleviate a potentially dramatic tax increase for local car owners, and a recent discussion of larger changes to the real estate tax rate could see more of the tax burden shifted to commercial properties.

Are you someone who closely follows the ins and outs of the budget process, or someone who checks in every once in a while but isn’t interested beyond that?

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The pedestrian zone on the 100 block of King Street has been a hit, so much so that the city is looking to expand the program to the unit block, which prompts the question: what should be the ultimate extent of the pedestrian zone project?

Last year, the City Council voted unanimously to make the closure on the 100 block permanent. The city is also taking a look at ways to make the 100 block’s pedestrian zone “look” more permanent. A new proposal going to the Planning Commission and City Council in April will put a similar pilot project into effect for the end of King Street and The Strand by the waterfront.

City staff have said the unit block is a natural extension of the 100 block’s closure, with that permanent closing having already reduced vehicle traffic on the unit block, but should the program continue up to the 200 block? Should the pedestrian street program eventually extend up to the King Street Metro station, as some have suggested, or should it remain just a feature of the blocks closest to the waterfront?

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This weekend, Alexandria’s City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that allows the city manager to further reduce speed limits. But should he?

The ordinance allows the city manager to “reduce posted speed limits to less than 25 miles per hour, but not less than 15 miles per hour on any city street located in a business or residence district.” The measure was supported by speakers at the City Council meeting and endorsed whole-heartedly by the Council, but the reaction online has been more mixed.

The measure also comes after a 10-year study has shown that car crashes have been declining on average, though fatality rates remain consistent.

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I Love You park design, via City of Alexandria

A new art project coming to Waterfront Park later this month is bringing a splash of pink to Old Town.

The project by Miami artists Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt was proposed last year and the city announced it will be officially unveiled on Friday, March 25.

The design is a bold choice for the more aesthetically conservative Old Town known more for red brick than kitsch. A painted pink and white carpet will take up much of the park space while “I Love You” shines from a sign in neon pink letters.

The new display is the fourth public art feature in Waterfront Park since the Mirror Mirror exhibit opened in 2019. The “I Love You” display is scheduled to remain in the park until Nov. 6.

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President’s Day in Alexandria was marked with the return of an annual parade celebrating George Washington’s birthday.

Parades are something of a fixture in Alexandria, from the (now delayed) St. Patrick’s Day parade to the Scottish Christmas Walk.

Some parade events were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to concerns about the spread of COVID, but with numbers steadily declining more of those events are coming back.

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Alexandria’s new City Manager James Parajon presented his proposed budget last night to the City Council. While real estate property assessments are still pushing local tax bills up, there’s no tax rate increase proposed in the budget.

The budget is $829.9 million, or a 7% increase from the previous year’s budget. The budget increase is largely funded by the increase in assessments revenue, which comes out to an average $445 increase for the average Alexandria homeowner.

There are still options, however, for increases as alternatives for the City Council. Those rates, Parajon said, would be a 1 penny per $100 of assessed value increase or a 2 penny increase. Budget Director Morgan Routt said the increases would come out to an average $66 increase per penny — or $511 and $577 for the 1 and 2 penny increases. Those one cent increases could fund other initiatives proposed by the City Council.

Parajon is scheduled to present the budget to the public on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. There will be nine work sessions throughout the spring to review the budget. A special public budget hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 7, and a tax rate add/delete hearing on April 23. Final budget adoption is scheduled for May 4.

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