On weekends from mid-April through October, motorists in Alexandria will have to reroute their itinerary. They will go across the lower part of Old Town’s King Street and will turn into a pedestrian-only zone.
As part of a King Street Place project, the 100 block of the street, which extends westward from the waterfront park by the Potomac River, will be inaccessible for vehicular traffic. No parking will be allowed on that section of the street at any time during seven-month pilot. The trolley will also need to follow a different route for as long as it remains in place. A more walkable public space with additional outdoor dining will define the transformation as a result.
Impact on Tourism and Transportation
In the meantime, the city administration will assess its impact on tourism revenues as well as to the lives of residents in terms of transportation. Following feedback from nearby businesses and other impacted parties, it might consider expanding the pilot to include weekdays as well.
The City has partnered with Visit Alexandria, a local business and marketing group, on the planning and implementation of the project.
It might include new ‘pick up, drop off’ zones for valet, food delivery and rideshare services. Accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, therefore, add to some businesses’ operational concerns.
Lessons from 2006 Trial
This will not be the first time for a closure to happen on the famous King Street. King Street features some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. More than a decade ago, authorities introduced a project similar to what is on the table today. However, it failed to receive as much support from local businesses as necessary to last longer than its pilot phase.
As part of that first trial in 2006, parts of lower King Street were blocked off to traffic on weekends. Although an overwhelming majority of pedestrians loved the transformation, some merchants expressed dissatisfaction as they experienced a drop in sales.
However, the Transportation Commission approved the plan earlier this month and paved the way for outreach to businesses and the public once again.
Have Your Say!
The City hopes to give the project its final, ideal shape by maintaining a channel of community feedback at all times and is asking all parties to participate in the ongoing discussion by writing to Hayley Burton and Patricia Washington as well.