The Alexandria Police Department (APD) will be ready to deploy five speed cameras in schools zones around the city by early next year.
Police Chief Don Hayes and Yon Lambert, the director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), issued a memo to update the joint City Council/School Board subcommittee, which met on Monday (June 26).
“Staff have immediately mobilized to develop and implement this new program,” Hayes and Lambert wrote. “staff working group, which includes representatives from ACPS, APD, T&ES, and others, has formed to address the various aspects of such a program, including location selection, public communications, procurement, and other critical tasks. This group is working towards the goal of launching the program by early 2023.”
In May, City Council approved the $400,000 speed camera program, after a child was struck and seriously injured at an intersection just outside of Jefferson Houston Elementary School (200 block of North West Street).
Virginia code was amended in 2020 to add speed cameras in school and work zones. This is the first time Alexandria will use speed cameras, and City Manager Jim Parajon is considering lowering speed limits in residential, business and school zones from 25 miles per hour to 15 mph.
A working group made up of city staff and APD are also putting together a program webpage, and the future location of the cameras have not yet been chosen.
“The locations will be data-driven,” said Alexandria Police Lt. Delton Goodrum told the subcommittee. “”Right now we’re pulling all this data between T&ES, APD and also ACPS (Alexandria City Public Schools.”
Staff will present the subcommittee with more details on the camera locations this fall.
After more than 10 years in development, the high-capacity Duke Street Transitway is getting the show on the road.
The Alexandria City Council, at its meeting March 8, will vote on authorizing the city manager to appoint an Ad Hoc Duke Street Transitway Advisory Group. The nine-person body will spend the next year providing recommendations for corridor design alternatives, and will endorse a preferred alternative by spring 2023.
The new advisory group will be tasked with adopting or amending the 2012 Transit Corridors Feasibility Plan, which outlines the project below:
- It would create dedicated transit lanes in existing six-lane sections of Duke Street between Landmark Mall and Jordan Street and between Roth Street and Diagonal Road
- In the remaining section of Duke Street between Jordan Street and Roth Street, transit would operate in mixed flow
- A parallel off-corridor bicycle facility should be examined to accommodate bicyclists along Duke Street and improved pedestrian facilities would be provided at intersections and near transit stations
- Preliminary implementation should prioritize enhanced pedestrian safety and improvements at Taylor Run Parkway
The advisory group will be made up of nine members:
- Transportation commissioner
- Planning Commissioner
- Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities member or designee
- DASH Bus Riders Group member or designee
- Three at-large community representatives
- Representative of the development community
- Federation of Civic Associations member or designee
The city manager will designate a chair of the advisory group, and choose the three at-large members.
Alexandria secured a $45,000 grant to kickstart a program to identify “near misses” on local streets.
The NoVA FSS Near Miss Data Collection Survey is a form that allows pedestrians and other “vulnerable road users” to report incidents where a collision with a vehicle is narrowly missed, according to a press release from Alexandria Families For Safe Streets (AFSS). Users can also report dangerous traffic conditions and areas of roadway where they feel unsafe.
FASS said the grant funding will help provide a consultant service to improve survey analytics.
“[The services prove] an advanced analytics tool that provides data correlation and predictive analytical algorithms between [Virginia Department of Transportation] crash data and NoVA FSS’s Near Miss data [and] a smartphone application of the [near miss] data collection survey,” the release said.
The survey will also be translated into non-English languages to help expand user access.
With two celebration-filled weeks left in the year, there has been a 34% jump in the number of Driving Under the Influence arrests in 2021 over last year.
As of Dec. 7, there have been 193 DUI arrests in Alexandria, up from 144 last year — a period when police minimized traffic enforcement, and restaurants and bars were still largely closed indoors due to the pandemic.
Still, there were 240 total DUI arrests in Alexandria in 2019 — 20% higher than this year’s current total.
“Enforcement may be up and I would contribute it to our Traffic Safety Section being diligent and staying on top of their training in recognizing drivers who drive under the influence as well as the contributions from our patrol,” Alexandria Police public information officer Marcel Bassett told ALXnow.
Not counted in the figures is a DUI arrest that occurred on Dec. 11, after a pedestrian was struck in Arlandria. The 41-year-old driver was charged with DUI Maiming and DUI Second Offense.
The proposed overhaul will change traffic patterns along Duke Street near Telegraph Road, a major connection to I-395 and a source of significant backup onto nearby residential streets. The pilot phase for the program is planned to start Monday, Jan. 3. The pilot project is scheduled to end on March 30, followed by a period of traffic analysis.
“The City is considering two pilot projects aimed at reducing regional cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets and shifting traffic onto the major arterials,” the City of Alexandria said on the project website. “To do this, we also must improve the flow of traffic on the arterials and make those routes faster than cutting through the neighborhoods. In the upcoming months, staff will be having conversations with the community on these potential projects.”
The planned change will adjust signal timing on side streets like West Taylor Run Parkway and Cambridge Road, lengthening the long lights in an effort to make those streets less appealing to drivers and, eventually, navigation apps. On the flip side, lights will stay green longer on Duke Street and Quaker Lane.
The short-term impact, the city previously admitted, could be longer backups on the very residential streets the pilot aims to protect, but the goal is an eventual decrease once drivers adjust to the new signal timing.
The city has said residents and drivers will be able to provide weekly feedback on the conditions they’re experiencing along Duke Street and/or the side streets.
Robert E. Lee home in Alexandria omits famous resident in new listing — “The Potts-Fitzhugh House in Old Town Alexandria is for sale for $5,995,000. The listing for the six-bedroom, five-bathroom, 8,000-square-foot mansion includes a thorough description of the place, but omits a key fact: It was the childhood home of Robert E. Lee.” [Washingtonian]
Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin stops in Alexandria — “At an early Saturday morning campaign stop in Alexandria, Virginia, supporters for Youngkin told Fox News that family and education are top ticket items in their decision to back the GOP candidate.” [Fox News]
City to resume enforcement of vehicle registration decals and more Dec. 1 — “If you drive in Alexandria, this is news you need to know. Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 1, the city will resume the enforcement of state vehicle registration decals, expired driver’s licenses, and HOV lane restrictions.” [Zebra]
New development moves forward at Carlyle with ‘Air Rights’ changes — “The last undeveloped lot in the Carlyle neighborhood is taking another step closer to being developed with a rare subdivision of lots.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
The coronavirus pandemic has meant less traffic on Alexandria roadways, fewer accidents and collisions, although there is a noted increase in the number of reported reckless driving incidents.
There was a 67% increase in reckless driving tickets issued by the Alexandria Police Department in 2020 over 2019. There were 184 reckless driving tickets issued in 2019 and 307 in 2020. With 98 incidents so far this year, the city is on track to exceed last year’s number. However, APD started doing eCitations in late May 2019, and as such the 2019 Reckless Driving ticket numbers are incomplete. All other tickets before that point were filled out manually, skewing the numbers as they were not broken up by citation type.
There is some good news. There was a 40% reduction in driving while intoxicated tickets; a 40% reduction in speeding tickets; and a 37% reduction in traffic collisions.
Last week, Alexandria Police Chief Michael L. Brown confirmed to residents in Del Ray that there is a rise in speeding around the city. He also said that Alexandria Police will soon test automated speed enforcement in school zones and construction zones.
“Our traffic safety section is fully operational during traffic all over the City of Alexandria,” Brown said, adding that the speed enforcement technology will be implemented in troublesome areas. “I will tell you some of the speeds people we were stopping for during the pandemic were extraordinary. I mean, 65 miles an hour down Duke Street.”
Broken rules of the road
At the onset of the pandemic, Alexandria Police did not “proactively address” tickets for minor traffic infractions to limit person-to-person contact. Roads were less busy, and still are, when compared with the days before the coronavirus.
“This, we believe, was in the best interest of our community and our valued law enforcement professionals,”APD Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. ” That said, traffic offenses which posed a risk to public safety were never avoided and appropriately addressed with education and enforcement. APD will continue to consider the hazards associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and will proceed to participate in traffic education and enforcement when it is in the best interest of public safety.”
Still, police will continue suspending enforcement against displaying current state vehicle registration decals, Paga said, due to the three-month appointment backlog with Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
While existing vehicle registrations may typically be renewed online, new registrations and certain other services require in-person appointments.
By the numbers
Paga said that the 2020 traffic enforcement numbers are still being finalized, and that the 2021 numbers run through March 15.
|Reckless Driving Tickets||184**||307||98|
*This represents handwritten citations for January and eCitations only for February-March.
**This number only represents eCitations from the end of May-December.
The 14th Street Bridge going into Washington, D.C. has been completely shut down, and the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office and Police Department are among the law enforcement agencies that have blocked traffic on the bridge since 6 a.m. this morning.
“We’ve never been asked to do anything like this before,” Captain Sean Casey of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office told ALXnow. “We’re at the bridge right now. It was quite a sight this morning, because there was still plenty of traffic. We started at just before 6 a.m. securing and shutting down the bridge. You now cannot cross the 14th Street Bridge, with very few exceptions.”
It’s all part of the heightened security around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, a direct result of the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
Alexandria is just a participant in the U.S. Secret Service’s joint transportation plan surrounding the inauguration. Supporting agencies that have shut down bridges into the District include the Virginia State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Arlington County Police, the Herndon Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.
“We want to help and be a part of a regional response when it’s necessary,” Casey said. “We want to be a part of whatever we can to make the region safer.”
There are about a dozen Alexandria Sheriff’s deputies assigned to the detail, and until ordered to leave are planted at the exit for the bridge along the George Washington Memorial Parkway going northbound.
Casey said that the department could spare the deputies, as the Alexandria courthouse will be closed over the next several days.
According to the Chief Judges of the Alexandria Courthouse:
“Due to potential threats to safety of employees and the general public due to the possibility of environmental and/or transportation disruptions, and due to Sheriff’s office personnel having to assist with maintaining security in the D.C. Metropolitan area on January 19 and 20, 2021, the Chief judges declare a judicial emergency pursuant to Va. Code Section 17.1-330, and, therefore, it is hereby ordered that the Alexandria Courthouse shall be closed to the general public on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 and Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Normal court operations will resume on Thursday, January 21, 2021.
Photo via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office
The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office and Police Department released a statement yesterday supporting a new state law requiring law enforcement officials to ask drivers racial information during all traffic stops.
The Virginia Community Policing Act went into effect on July 1 and requires all state and local law enforcement officials to ask drivers their race, ethnicity, age and gender — in addition to tracking why the individual was stopped and if they were searched, arrested or given a warning.
“The law also explicitly prohibits law enforcement officers from engaging in bias-based profiling, defined as actions based solely on the real or perceived race, ethnicity, age, gender, or other noncriminal characteristics of an individual,” according to the city, which says that the police already collect this information. “Statewide data will be analyzed to determine the prevalence of bias-based profiling and complaints alleging the use of excessive force.”
The city is currently developing a plan for a community police review board, and the process has been criticized by groups as being too insular. Activists in the city are also calling on greater data transparency over arrests and other confrontations, as 54% of all arrests last year in the city were of Black men.
Staff photo by Vernon Miles
City Releases Annual Homeless Data — “The 2020 Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count revealed 207 persons experiencing homelessness (i.e., unsheltered and in temporary shelter made available by homeless services providers) in the City of Alexandria.” [City of Alexandria]
Alexandria Police Release 2019 Traffic Stop Data — “The vast majority of traffic stops — 80 percent — occur on weekdays, with Tuesday and Wednesday being the most common days.” [Alexandria Living]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets Hydrated — “Did you know today (Tuesday) is National Hydration Day? Thanks to Trezur C of Tres Outreach for donating twenty five cases of water to keep our residents nice and cool during these hot summer days!” [Facebook]
Fire Department Conducting Virtual Station Tours — “So instead of in person tours and visits, we thought we would provide a couple of virtual station tours for the community, especially those who are frequent visitors at their neighborhood stations and couldn’t drop by during the past few months. First up, Fire Station 206, located at 4609 Seminary Road…our tech rescue station.” [Facebook]
ALX Community Hosting COVID Coping Workshop June 25 — “Hosted by Elena Jimenez, founder of Execute Your Destiny, this series offers a rare opportunity to navigate the current social and racial climate in search of new perspectives and solutions.” [Eventbrite]
New Job: Part-Time Dance Teacher — “Looking for experienced dance and acro teachers. Openings on weekdays and Saturday. Primarily classes for children aged 3 and older.” [Indeed]