A new 12-hour loading zone was recently installed on the north corner of the 2300 block of Mt. Vernon Avenue, though it appears many are choosing to ignore it.
The loading zone is enforced from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The zone runs from the entrance of 2312 Mt. Vernon Avenue (where the Sierra Club office is located) to the corner of E. Oxford Avenue and the yet-to-be opened Pork Barrel BBQ restaurant.
The loading zone was required in the permits for the Pork Barrel BBQ complex, which will also include a sushi bar called Dragon and a fast-casual Asian-fusion spot called Chop Chop.
Initially, the loading zone was to be enforced from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, but the UPS Store requested expanded hours for its deliveries during an Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board meeting this fall.
In a message on a Del Ray listserv, Pork Barrel BBQ’s Mike Anderson said the loading zone can be used for picking up to-go orders on the block. Many drivers have grown used to parking in the loading zone area to grab a cup of joe at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.
“Having somebody stop in the loading zone for even a minute is enough to prevent deliveries from being made at all,” Liz Davis of The Dairy Godmother said. “Having a car there at all negates the zone.”
Davis said trucks making deliveries to her custard shop have not been able to use the zone since it was established because it is always filled with parked cars.
Around 1 p.m. Thursday, a delivery truck was forced to double-park in front of St. Elmo’s because the loading zone was full of vehicles. The double-parked truck caused traffic to stop in the southbound lane on Mt. Vernon Avenue.
The loading zone measures roughly 48 feet, which is equal to about three car lengths.
While the loss of three regular parking spaces on a busy block might be somewhat of an inconvenience, the parking lot behind the Pork Barrel BBQ building will have 27 parking spaces during the evening and 17 available spaces for lunch service.
The city's Department of Transportation and Environmental Services is expected to release the final draft of a parking study of all of Del Ray this month. The report will be followed by a series of communities meetings. The implementation of recommendations from the parking study is expected in the first quarter of 2012.
The city has already implemented some sort-term measures from the plan, inlcuding the removal of a taxi stand.
The fine for parking in a loading zone in Alexandria is $40.