Alexandria, VA

Honestly, kind of a slow week in Alexandria — must have been the tryptophan in the Thanksgiving turkey.

As we head into the end of the year, the city and many local organizations are working to lay the groundwork for a better 2021. Even as the Campagna Center recoils from cancelling the Christmas Parade, the organization is working to ensure fundraising stays consistent for the local non-profit’s early childhood programs. The City, too, is planning for a looming budget setback when CARES Act funding expires.

On the bright side, unemployment figures continue to go down for Alexandria and adoptions from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria are on the rise. The West End could also get also be getting that Capital Bikeshare expansion sooner than expected.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Planning Commission Approves Potomac Yard Park Expansion
  2. New Report Recommends Making Voluntary Affordable Housing Contributions Mandatory in Alexandria
  3. Cars Stolen With Fake Checks in Alexandria, Suspects Selling Cars
  4. Alexandria Refines Accessory Dwelling Units Policy and Cuts Parking Requirement
  5. Women’s Clothing Store LOFT Closes in Old Town
  6. Officials Debunk Conservative Study on Registered Alexandria Voters
  7. Alexandria Announces Rolling Expansion of Bikeshare Program to the West End Next Year
  8. Man Shot in Old Town, Police Increase Patrol Coverage with Spike in Shots Fired Calls
  9. Beyer Blasts Metro Plan to Cut Service and Eliminate Alexandria Stations
  10. Del Ray Christmas Tree Lighting Scheduled This Week

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The City of Alexandria has announced that the Capital Bikeshare will be headed to the West End ahead of schedule starting early next year.

Bicycle use has increased regionally, to the point where it was difficult at times to get a bicycle in Alexandria. With hopes for a rebound in ridership in the coming spring, Alexandria said seven previously deployed stations still in good condition will be purchased and located in the West End. The purchase will accelerate the expansion of the program by several years, the city said.

“The interim stations, which are anticipated to be installed in January and February, will be replaced with new equipment once grant funding becomes available,” the city said in a press release. “City staff is finalizing locations for stations and coordinating an installation schedule.”

The city said locations will primarily be chosen based on sites identified in the Transportation Master Plan. Sites are scattered throughout the West End, partially concentrated in the high-density areas like near the Van Dorn Street Metro station. It’s unclear how potential plans to close the Van Dorn and Eisenhower stations could affect that implementation.

The press release noted that sites will be determined after discussions with nearby property owners and the Bikeshare operator.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The Capital Bikeshare’s expansion in Alexandria has hit some serious snags that has resulted in at least a two-year delay in the arrival of new stations.

In 2017, the City of Alexandria approved 10 new Capital Bikeshare stations, which would have included a push into the West End and Potomac Yard. The plan was to install them in 2018, according to the Washington Post, but that didn’t happen. Then the city’s FY 2020-29 Capital Improvement Program cited summer 2019 as the proposed completion date, but that hasn’t happened either.

City staff say changes in regulations have resulted in the city being forced to secure new contracts and file more paperwork.

“The city did not install any new Capital Bikeshare stations this summer,” said Sarah Godfrey, public information officer for the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services. “In 2018, VDOT reinterpreted federal regulations governing bikeshare; as a result, every municipality with Capital Bikeshare in the state has been working to secure new contracts and comply with those requirements.”

Now, the city is trying to ride in tandem with Falls Church’s expansion plans.

“Falls Church was the first Northern Virginia municipality to get a new contract in place; we’re working on obtaining permission to ‘ride’ that contract and going through the normal grant processes to fulfill the federal and state requirements,” Godfrey said.

Whether that will be allowed is unclear. In emails between city staff and VDOT officials, obtained by ALXnow, VDOT staff called the proposed piggybacking “uncharted territory” and said that the timeline for that process was unknown.

VDOT staff also said earlier this year that the city still needed to submit documents showing the scope of work involved, a cost estimate for the project, and a document showing the locations of the new bikeshare stations.

“Once we’ve cleared those process and regulatory hurdles, staff will be working to get the… stations that were approved in 2017 installed as quickly as possible,” Godfrey said. “Staff will then begin planning and engagement for the next round of stations, pending approval for additional operating funds, which are considered annually by City Council during the budget process.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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