Alexandria, VA

Morning Notes

Mayor: Council to Accelerate Sewer Capacity Projects — “Our ’16 Storm Sewer Capacity Analysis identified 90 areas where the system does not meet our CURRENT design standard of a 10-year storm. Our Stormwater Utility Fee was implemented in ’18 to fund capacity and environmental compliance. Council will now discuss how to accelerate.” [Facebook]

Beyer Attacks Trump’s Environmental Stance — “Trump’s climate change strategy is the same as his pandemic strategy: play it down and pretend it isn’t happening. There are a record number of named storms in the Atlantic and the west coast is on fire.” [Twitter]

Anonymous Donation Helps Expand SNAP Double Dollars Program — “A $10,000 anonymous donation to help fight food insecurity during the pandemic will help the City expand SNAP Double Dollars program, which allows SNAP customers who visit participating Alexandria farmers’ markets to receive up to $20 in double dollars to purchase eligible food products at the markets.” [Facebook]

Environmental Council of Alexandria Decries Taylor Run Restoration Plan — “We’ve got our work cut out for us to make sure that the City doesn’t continue to promote so-called “eco” policies that actually come at the expense of the environment and efforts to reverse global warming.” [Facebook]

Tall Ship Providence Sails Away for Inspections — “And, they’re off… Bright and early this morning, Providence headed out on a voyage to Georgetown, MD for a scheduled haul out and Coast Guard inspection. They’ll inspect the hull, complete any necessary maintenance, and she’ll get a new coat of bottom paint. Please join us in wishing our Captain and crew “Fair winds and following seas.” Providence will return home by the end of September. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard for tours and cruises!” [Facebook]

Classic Car Show in Old Town September 19 — “This Saturday you can head to the parking lot of the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum for a classic car show featuring a variety of Packards and other ‘orphan’ vehicles.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, mainly sunny. High 73F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, clear. Low 54F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Spanish Language Teacher — “You must have previous tutoring/teaching experience, and minimum Bachelor’s degree.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Beyer Negates Trump’s Coronavirus Claims — “Nearly 194,000 Americans have died in a pandemic Trump lied to the country about. As Dr. Gottlieb points out, the coming cold weather months bring danger of new spread of the virus. Even after seven months of this Trump still has no strategy to keep Americans safe.” [Twitter]

Former Mayor Silberberg Says Taylor Run Restoration Will Hurt Environment — “Recent soil testing from Taylor Run, analyzed by Brookside Laboratories, showed a negligible amount of phosphorous in the soil of the stream bank. Restoration of Taylor Run will therefore have a questionable impact at best on the watershed – but the restoration work will have a devastating impact on the habitat and tree canopy surrounding the stream.” [Alex Times]

Kids Who Volunteer Can Get Scholarship — “Volunteering makes a difference. Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) are recognizing the efforts Virginia youth have made to help in their communities during the pandemic.” [Zebra]

Salon Monte Opens in Old Town — “On the waterfront to cut the ribbon for @MonteDurham‘s Salon Monte! Welcome! (Insert joke about me at a hair salon—> Here)” [Twitter]

Board of Architectural Review Rejects Heritage Development — “If you’ve run out of shows on Netflix and you’re looking for some drama-filled entertainment, head to the city’s webcast archive and watch the Board of Architectural Review’s latest meeting.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early, becoming mostly sunny in the afternoon. High near 80F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph. At night, Clear. Low 54F. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Account Executive — “CareClix, a Northern Virginia based company and the world leader in the Telemedicine Space is seeking a few select individuals to join our Resellers and Independent Account Executive salesforce. Successful candidates in this position can expect first year commissions of lower middle to high six figures.” [Indeed]

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As part of an effort to curtail truck traffic through residential streets, the City Council could add E. Taylor Run Parkway to the list of streets where truck traffic is banned.

On Saturday (Feb. 22) the City Council is scheduled (item #13) to review a potential ban on commercial truck traffic on the street, which connects Janneys Lane and Duke Street.

Commuter traffic has repeatedly been a thorn in the side of E. Taylor Run Parkway residents, particularly with apps like Waze and Google Maps diverting traffic onto side streets to avoid gridlock on the main roads. The Traffic and Parking Board originally approved a recommendation to close the street to truck traffic in 2018.

A similar ban already exists on W. Taylor Run Parkway, though that street has its own share of problems — namely an ongoing spate of parked cars being struck by passing vehicles.

According to city records, there are 23 other streets where truck traffic is banned, most of them in Old Town or connected to Seminary Road.

Photo via Google Maps

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Taylor Run stream in pretty bad shape, but the City of Alexandria wants to revitalize it into a healthy stream rich with native vegetation.

“It’s in the design phase right now,” said Jesse Maines, division chief for Stormwater Management. Maines estimated the design was about halfway completed, but the department is still reaching out to local stakeholders and continuing internal discussions about the eventual design.

The stream starts near T.C. Williams High School and the Chinquapin Recreation Center, then runs parallel to King Street, eventually emptying into Cameron Run.

Maines said the stream has seen severe erosion over the years as new development has funneled ever-increasing amounts of stormwater through the ravine. There are places where the stream’s banks are a nearly 90-degree drop-off. Restoration of the stream will also help improve water quality to meet the Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates, the city said on its website.

“We’re considering different kinds of techniques,” Maines said. “This isn’t your grandfather’s stream restoration. The main focus back in the day was just stabilizing everything, but now we [use] natural channel techniques. We want to use those techniques that allow vegetation to be established and hold the banks in.”

The new stream restoration efforts aim to make those banks gradual with native vegetation that slows the water and creates ecological stability. As a bonus, a slower stream with native vegetation could also help return more wildlife to the stream, starting with local macroinvertebrates — bugs, for the less scientifically inclined among us — that dwell in calmer pools of water.

Maines said the design for the project is estimated to be completed sometime around spring or summer this year, followed by a few months of paperwork and procurement, with construction activity starting late this year or the beginning of 2021. Once construction starts, Maines says it’s estimated to take about a year to complete.

After the work gets underway, Maines says the biggest impact the community is likely to see is more truck traffic along King Street near the high school. Construction hours are currently scheduled to be 7 a.m.-5 p.m. during the week, though that could change to 9 a.m. to minimize the impact of truck traffic on buses and other school traffic.

The total cost of the project is currently projected at $4.5 million, though this doesn’t include other features that could be incorporated during the design process. That funding is evenly split between a grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and matching funding from the city.

The City of Alexandria is scheduled to host a meeting discussing the Taylor Run Stream Restoration project next Thursday (Jan. 16) from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School. The meeting will include presentations from the Dept. of Project Implementation and Dept. Transportation and Environmental Services, the city said in a press release, with both departments available to field questions from the public.

Photos via City of Alexandria

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Just a few blocks away from where some local residents are incensed about a road diet, others are begging the city to do something about frequent collisions on their street.

W. Taylor Run Parkway connects Duke Street and Janneys Lane, two major east-west routes through Alexandria. The two-lane street is bordered by a creek on the eastern side and a row of homes on the right.

The residents along the parkway say its status as a cut-through with some tight turns has resulted in frequent crashes with parked vehicles along the road.

Caity Flaherty has been a resident on W. Taylor Run Parkway for five years, and in that time she said she has had five crashes in front of or near her home on the road. Crashes have ranged in gravity from sideswiped cars to collisions that sent her to the emergency room.

On the night of her baby shower, Flaherty said she woke up at 3 a.m. to police lights outside of her home. Her car had been hit and pushed up onto the sidewalk and was totaled. After that she had her driveway expanded to fit both of the family cars, but collisions continued.

On Aug. 28 people were visiting the home, so Flaherty parked her car on the street to let the visitors in and out of the driveway. Suddenly there was a loud “smack” sound and she walked out of the house to find her car damaged. A camera caught the car that passed and struck her vehicle, but police never found it.

Last Friday, Flaherty said her nanny parked a little further down the street and was sideswiped. A video Flaherty has of the incident shows the truck that struck the nanny’s car driving down the street in the parking lane.

Other neighbors along the street shared similar stories. One said their car was parked on the street in 2017 and was totaled, then another — also parked on the street — was totaled in 2018.

Neighbors blamed the narrow, unprotected parking lanes and some of the tight turns that drivers take at high speeds — despite speed bumps along the road.

“We’ve been after the city to do something,” Flaherty said. “The parking lanes are too narrow. It’s a perfect storm.”

The Alexandria Police Department said they didn’t have information about crashes along the street, but the city’s Department of Transportation & Environmental Services (T&ES) said it’s a well-known issue.

“We’re aware of this and are talking to the community about it,” Sarah Godfrey, public information officer for T&ES, said in an email. “There is some striping on West Taylor Run that we plan to fix/adjust [Thursday], weather permitting, to help address the issue. In terms of what we know about the incidents involving the parked cars, distracted driving and alcohol were factors in two of the crashes.”

Temporary no parking signs have been placed along the street in anticipation of the re-striping work.

Flaherty said she was told the current plan is to widen the parking lane by four inches, but what neighbors along the street agreed was needed was some kind of barrier.

“It sucks,” Flaherty said. “Our family is coming over for Christmas and we’ll have four cars here. I’ll have to tell people to park on another street and shuttle them over.”

Beyond just very costly property damage, Flaherty and other neighbors said they were concerned about the safety of residents given that at least one crash has pushed vehicles up onto the sidewalk.

“We love where we live,” Flaherty said, “but if it affects our son’s safety, we’ll move.”

H/t to @JHoffman_DC

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