Alexandria, VA

Long-running efforts to address the condition of Alexandria’s roads will continue this summer with a new set of local roadways set for repavings.

Roads were prioritized for repaving based on the Pavement Condition Inventory, according to a newsletter put out by Mayor Justin Wilson. The study done last year showed roads throughout the city score poorly, particularly the side streets through neighborhoods.

“We continue to play ‘catch up’ throughout the City from deferred road maintenance during the worst of the Great Recession,” Wilson said in the newsletter. “I’m hopeful we can continue (and hopefully increase) these investments in this very basic infrastructure.”

The work is contingent on funding proposed in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, scheduled for adoption on April 29.

Wilson said the following 37 streets are all scheduled to be repaved this year and work could start as soon as July 1:

  • Callahan Drive from King Street to Duke Street
  • North Pitt Street from Oronoco Street to King Street
  • King Street from Callahan Street to Dangerfield Street
  • North and South Union Street from Pendleton Street to Franklin Street
  • North and South Fairfax Street from Jefferson Street to Third Street
  • South Walker Street from Duke Street to Stevenson Avenue
  • West Taylor Run Parkway from Janneys Lane to Duke Street
  • East Abingdon Drive from Second Street to Slaters Lane
  • Commonwealth Avenue from E/W Braddock Road to King Street
  • Duke Street from South Patrick Street to Strand Street
  • Hume Avenue from Commonwealth Avenue to Richmond Highway
  • North Floyd Street from Duke Street to North French Street
  • Fendall Avenue from Duke Street to South Floyd Street
  • Wellington Road from Beverley Drive to Chalfonte Drive
  • Fillmore Avenue from Seminary Road to End
  • Farm Road from Beverley Drive to Circle Terrace
  • North Gladden Street from Uline Avenue North Grayson Street
  • North Grayson Street from North Gladden Street to Uline Avenue
  • Tulsa Place from North Gordon to End
  • Uline Avenue from North Gordon Street to Taney Avenue
  • North and South West Street from Duke Street to Wythe Street
  • Skyhill Road from Janneys Lane to End
  • Daingerfield from King Street to Duke Street
  • North Morgan Street from North Chambliss Street to End
  • North and South Alfred Street from First Street to Church Street
  • Reading Avenue from North Beauregard Street to End
  • Rayburn Avenue from North Beauregard Street to Reading Avenue
  • South Iris Street from Venable Avenue to Vermont Avenue
  • Cameron Mills Road from Virginia Avenue to Allison Street
  • Marlboro Drive from West Braddock Road to End
  • Fort Ward Place from Ellicott Street
  • Ellicott Street from Marlboro Drive to End
  • Moncure Dr from S View Terr to Hilton St
  • Crown View Drive from Clover Way to Dartmouth Road
  • Jewell Court from North Chambliss Street to End
  • Anderson Court from Jewell Court to End
  • North and South Saint Asaph Street from First Street to End

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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As Alexandria’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project RiverRenew starts making progress, it’s looking increasingly likely the project’s cost will approach the half-billion dollar mark.

During an update at the City Council meeting on Dec. 10 (Monday), Mayor Justin Wilson said the price will be towards the upper end of the $370 to $555 million price range.

“We’ve been able to refine the pricing… the numbers do not ever get smaller, they get bigger,” Wilson said. “The current estimate is around $464 million. Those numbers have gone up.”

The massive infrastructure project — the largest in the city’s history — was an unfunded mandate from the state legislature. The state will require Alexandria to completely overhaul its centuries-outdated sewer system by July 1, 2025, to prevent sewage from flowing into the Potomac River during rainstorms.

The good news, for Alexandria, is that since the initial mandate the state has started putting some funding into the project. The General Assembly adopted a budget earlier this year that included $25 million for the project. This year, Wilson said the city government is back requesting $75 million more.

“We will hear in a couple of weeks whether there’s money in the governor’s budget,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Wilson said three design-build teams have been shortlisted for the project, and will have to submit proposals for the project by Feb. 11. From there, Wilson said it will be a pretty quiet year in terms of news on the project as Alexandria Renew Enterprises chooses who is awarded the contract. The goal, Wilson said, is to have a design selected by December 2020.

“We still have a substantial amount of work to do,” Wilson said, “[but we’ve] made a lot of progress.”

Photo via Alexandria Renew Enterprises/Facebook

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The City of Alexandria is inviting companies to bid for the construction of a municipal fiber network, putting the city one step closer to breaking the current monopolies on television and telephone services in Alexandria.

The city is hoping to build a broadband network that can support voice, video and data transportation at public facilities. A side benefit of this plan is an increase in consumer choice in cable, voice and broadband services at a variety of costs and available speeds.

According to the city website:

The city has received consistent feedback from residential and business consumers regarding the lack of local competition in cable television and broadband Internet services. Although no provider has an exclusive franchise with the city, there is only one cable television franchisee (Comcast) and one landline telephone franchisee (Verizon) in Alexandria, and there are no broadband Internet franchisees.

The system design was completed in August. The design focused on addressing connectivity for city buildings, public schools, library and public safety communication needs, according to the city website.

For years, the city has sought out other potential providers, but the website notes that “companies are typically reluctant to make multimillion-dollar capital investments in new fiber networks.” Thus, the city is attempting to include the addition of fiber infrastructure wherever digging projects and utility work are already underway. Once the fiber network is built, the city would lease excess capacity.

“The city is planning to seek new franchisees who could lease excess capacity on the city’s new fiber-optic network and provide service to residents and businesses,” according to the city website. “This would allow all providers to compete fairly, and would incentivize providers to offer consumer services.”

Nearby Arlington County also built its own “dark fiber” network, at the cost of millions of dollars. But a plan to have businesses use the network, and thus provide an economic development boost to the county, have not panned out — as of earlier this year the network was almost totally unused.

A pre-bid conference for the Alexandria fiber project is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the purchasing conference room at 100 N. Pitt Street.

Photo via J.C. Burns/Flickr

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RiverRenew has a lot of tunneling to get through and not a lot of time.

Over the city’s objections, the state has required Alexandria to completely reform its sewer system by 2025. The city has assigned that task to Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), which in been pushing forward with RiverRenew — the largest infrastructure project in Alexandria’s history, estimated to cost between $370 and $555 million.

The pieces of the project are coming together, but the clock is ticking. Caitlin Feehan, program manager for RiverRenew, said that experience from other tunneling programs puts the estimated construction schedule at four and a half years, which includes accounting for construction delays.

To accomplish the project before the deadline, Feehan said her team is working to get as much of the red tape checked off simultaneously.

“It’s a realistic timeframe for construction because the phase we’re in right now… we’re going through the process of simultaneous planning, preliminary engineering and permitting,” Feehan said. “It’s putting a lot of stress in this stage but ensures a realistic timeframe.”

Environmental assessments earlier this year helped establish the plans for building tunnels underneath Old Town to carry sewage to a new pumping station at AlexRenew’s Water Resource Recovery Facility at 1800 Limerick Street. The pumping station — which will run 150 feet below ground — was approved by the City Council in September.

There were some concerns earlier this year that the federal government shutdown could hurt the timeline for the environmental assessment, Feehan said, but the program was able to work with the National Park Service to keep the process moving forward.

“It’s a challenge to make sure we’re on schedule,” Feehan said, “but [we have an] experienced staff that knows how to mitigate risk.”

Feehan said various teams will come in, go through the process of finishing out final designs for the project, then get permits

Currently, construction is scheduled to start in mid-2021. Feehan said teams will use a state of the art tunneling machine that will be drilling 100 feet underground — deep enough that the underground activity should cause no disruption on the surface. RiverRenew will also be working simultaneously on the new pumping station to ensure that the project is ready to go online as soon as the tunnels are ready.

The final result, Feehan said, will be sewers that capture 98% of discharge sewer flow — as opposed to dumping millions of gallons of sewage into the Potomac River when it rains — putting the city sewer system in compliance with the state’s demands.

Top photo via Alexandria Renew Enterprises/Facebook

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