Newsletter

Some changes are coming to the George Washington Memorial Parkway to make it safer for travelers between Alexandria and the eponymous President’s home at Mount Vernon.

According to the National Park Service (NPS), part of the change will be a road diet — a term that could trigger flashbacks for veterans of the 2019 Seminary Road Comment Wars.

“The NPS will restripe the road to implement a road diet while maintaining driving capacity,” NPS said in a press release. “On the parkway between Tulane Drive and Stratford Lane, the NPS will change markings so that there will be three travel lanes (2 northbound, 1 southbound) and one turn lane.”

All changes on the parkway are taking place in Fairfax — not Alexandria — but will affect travel to and from the city.

NPS also announced that it will be making some changes to improve visibility on the Parkway.

“[NPS will] increase visibility of lane markings and Mount Vernon Trail crosswalks,” NPS said, “[and] remove vegetation at intersections to improve visibility.”

NPS said in the press release that the changes came after public outreach and traffic modeling, which NPS claimed indicated the changes would not diminish the GW Parkway’s ability to accommodate current traffic. Once the changes are put into place, NPS said it will continue to monitor traffic for changes.

“We are being responsive to comments from the public and the expert advice of transportation professionals,” Superintendent Charles Cuvelier said in the press release. “Whether you are a park visitor or commuter, these changes will make driving, walking and bicycling between Alexandria and Mount Vernon safer and more enjoyable for everyone.”

The dieting is scheduled to start going into effect later this year.

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Morning Notes

AFD Extinguishes Fire on N. West Street — “Engine 205 and surrounding companies made quick work of a small kitchen fire in the 300 Block of N. West Street.” [Twitter]

Health Department Warns Against Misinformation — “Along with our city partners and fantastic Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, we need you, community members, to help share accurate information and dispel the fear that can be seductive and paralyzing.” [Alex Times]

Parkway Classic Postponed — “Considering the current uncertainty and plausibility of continued restrictions on events, we are working closely with our partners on an alternate date for our 36th Annual PNC Parkway Classic originally slated for April 26th.” [PNC Parkway Classic]

West End Fitness Center to Open this Summer — “A dedicated and certified fitness expert will guide you through our workout, which changes daily to keep the body guessing and prevent plateau.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria YMCA Suspends Operations — “The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington will suspend operations at all YMCA facilities located in Maryland at 5pm today, Monday, March 16th; and in Northern Virginia and in the District of Columbia at the close of business, Monday, March 16, 2020. At this moment, we plan to reopen all YMCA facilities as soon as it is permitted by the government officials and upheld by the guidance of health organizations.” [YMCA]

Mayor Asks Landlords to Ease Restrictions — “Although it is still a couple of weeks before April rents will be due, I would ask that you consider now what you can do to ease burdens for tenants who will have difficulty paying their next rent because of illness or financial hardship related to ongoing business disruptions and closures.” [Facebook]

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Several Alexandria Fire Department units responded as mutual aid to a crash on the GW Parkway in Fairfax County this afternoon.

The crash happened just before 1:30 p.m. at the GW Parkway intersection with Belle View Blvd. At least one of the victims was initially reported to trapped in their vehicle, potentially requiring extrication.

An ALXnow photographer arrived as one of the vehicles involved, a red sedan with heavy passenger side damage, was loaded onto a flatbed tow truck.

The intersection is likely familiar to many who commute to and from Alexandria and points south. It, along with the nearby intersection of the GW Parkway and Belle Haven Road, are among the most dangerous and crash-prone in the area — prompting the National Park Service to hold recent public meetings and consider new safety improvements.

Particularly for those turning left at both intersections, to head north on the Parkway, the maneuver requires dodging fast-moving southbound traffic and then waiting in a barely-wide-enough median for fast-moving northbound traffic to clear. Turning left from the northbound lanes of the Parkway onto either road is similarly death-defying.

More from a December article on Covering the Corridor on potential safety improvements:

Recent Park Police efforts to improve speed enforcement along the entire Parkway between I-495 and Mount Vernon have led to a 35 percent reduction in motor vehicle accidents between 2018 and 2019, Cuvelier said. The superintendent added that public opinion about installing speed cameras was about evenly divided, but that the cameras raised a larger issue involving data requirements.

More than half the comments submitted so far have been related to the Belle View Boulevard and Belle Haven Road intersections, where nearly 125 crashes occurred over a five-year period.

To help improve intersections that are currently difficult to navigate — especially when making left turns — the Park Service proposed solutions like road diets and roundabouts, including ones at Morningside Lane. Some of these proposals will require more investigation, Cuvelier acknowledged, due to potential downsides like queuing.

Thus far, no serious injuries have been reported following this afternoon’s crash.

Street view photos via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Home Sale Prices Rise Above Arlington — “The Amazon HQ2 effect on home prices in Northern Virginia continues and, at least by one measure, the Alexandria housing market is now more expensive than Arlington County. At least it was in October, the most recent month for which data is available.” [WTOP]

Trampoline Park Hoping to Open By End of Year — “Management for Get Air Trampoline Park, an indoor recreation and amusement park, confirmed that the Alexandria location is scheduled to open in the second half of December. The space Get Air is occupying at 340 S. Pickett St. was formerly a U.S. Post Office in the West End Village shopping center.” [Alexandria Living]

Trash Will Be Picked Up on Thanksgiving — “Thursday trash/recycling routes: your trash and recycling WILL BE collected starting at 6AM this Thursday so the route can be completed in advance of the Turkey Trot. If you are not up that early, please set your material out Wed. night!” [Twitter/@AlexandriaVATES]

Meeting About Southern GW Parkway Safety — “On Tuesday, Dec. 3, the National Park Service will host a meeting to discuss George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) visitors’ recommendations about how to improve safety at key intersections between the City of Alexandria and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” [National Park Service]

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