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City Seeking Citizen Input on Trolley Service Expansion

At a community meeting, West Street residents say their street is ill-designed to handle motorized trolley service connecting Old Town and Del Ray.

Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services is reaching out to citizens for input on six alternative routes for the expansion of motorized trolley service onto Mt. Vernon Avenue. 

T&ES posted a survey on the city’s website asking for citizen preferences on routes, the name of the line and hours of service.

All six route alternatives begin at King Street Metro station and terminate at varying destinations after moving north along Mt. Vernon Avenue. Two of the alternatives go all the way to Arlington Ridge Shopping Center across Four Mile Run.

Some suggested routes use West Street to connect Old Town with Del Ray, while others use Commonwealth Avenue. The routes using Commonwealth Avenue do not make stops at Braddock Road Metro station.

For a detailed look at all six alternatives, including annual operation costs, route-completion time and the number of businesses served, see the attached PDF file.

T&ES held a meeting Saturday at to discuss the alternative routes. Abi Lerner, T&ES Deputy Director, said City Council sees the expansion of motorized trolley service beyond the current King Street Trolley as “primarily an economic development tool.” He said it’s not seen as a commuter service because “it doesn’t run every day.”     

The suggested operation is Thursday through Saturday, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Trolley service would end on those days at 10:30 p.m.

Lerner said the idea is that visitors staying in Old Town hotels often use their smartphones to locate restaurants in Del Ray and Arlandria but don’t know how to get there. The trolley would provide an easy, free way to link the two economic centers.

At Saturday’s meeting, several West Street residents voiced concerns of the trolley using their street because of traffic issues and upcoming construction projects.

“I have no problem with the trolley going down Mt. Vernon Avenue, but West Street is ill-designed to deal with it,” said Daniel Schuman, who lives on the corner of Queen and West streets. “It’s not a good idea on a small, two-lane road. It will raise a lot of problems.”

Several residents mentioned that traffic slows during rush hour and that oftentimes they are unable to parallel park near their homes until later in the evening. Others said the upcoming will further complicate travel on West Street.

“We’re not building a BRT or a streetcar here,” Lerner said. “Adjustments can be made very easily. … Identifying a route doesn’t end our work.”

The city unveiled one suggested route in March that uses West Street to connect Old Town and Del Ray and terminates at Reed Avenue, just south of the heart of Arlandria.

At the time, several Arlandria business owners and residents . A few weeks later, and asked for more citizen input on the route and the name of the line.

On Monday, members of the Del Ray Business Association said at their monthly luncheon that they were unhappy that the process of getting the trolley running had slowed.

T&ES is taking survey responses until Friday. The results will be incorporated into a report to be given to City Council on June 13.  

Once a route is selected, the city will start the process of selecting a contractor to provide and operate motorized trolleys on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

T&ES Director Rich Baier said Saturday that the service would likely begin in October or November.

To add your input, take the city's trolley survey

Autoexec.bat May 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Options 3-6 make zero sense. My vote is Option 0, but since we all know it's a done deal, stopping at the Birchmere (1 or 2) are the least bad options.
TS3 May 23, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The trolley is for visitors, not those of us who live along Mt. Vernon Ave., (that's what the 10E/A/B are for). Tourists and visitors don't want to go to Arlandria; they want to go to Del Ray. Therefore, it should be called the Del Ray Trolley and need not continue into Arlandria. If the businesses in Arlandria want a trolley to go there, they should spiff up the neighborhood so that visitors would want to do so as well. The height of absurdity would be when trolleys continue to make their way into Arlandria solely occupied by only locals looking for a free bus ride or tourists who realize that they didn't get off the trolley early enough to go where they wanted to - Del Ray. We all know that this would be the truth of it.
Jon Rosenbaum May 23, 2012 at 12:54 AM
The "truth of it" is that this is being done for political reasons. There is little reason to expect that tourists in Old Town will want to take a long ride to Del Ray. Most of the businesses serve the local community quite well, but they hardly are a draw for tourists. This is a waste of city money.
Linda Lyons May 23, 2012 at 11:28 AM
This whole project is foolish and a waste of money. There is no reason to expect that tourists are going to flock to Del Ray with or without a trolley, free or paid. There are six or so restaurants and a few shops but there is nothing else to attract visitors. There is nothing to attract visitors to Arlandria but the Birchmere to which tourists can easily take a taxi. If this is an important issue, try running a Dash bus down Mt. Vernon Ave. for a year or two and see how it works out. I doubt that a trolley will even compensate for the hit Mt. Vernon Ave. businesses will take if the City puts in parking meters. This whole idea never should have gotten out of the brain-storming session that created it.
Adam Froehlig May 23, 2012 at 01:01 PM
"“It’s not a good idea on a small, two-lane road. It will raise a lot of problems.” Last I checked, King St through Old Town was a "small, two-lane road". Seems to work okay there. Also, once we start plunking down some Bikeshare stations, I bet we'd get tourists flocking to Del Ray...
Leslie Hagan May 23, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Adam, Go measure King Street and then measure some of the side streets in Old Town and Del Ray. Big difference. Council and City staff pay no attention to City Code when they want traffic to go somewhere. "Traffic collectors" need to be substantially wider than side streets which are usually mostly, if not entirely, residential. When Council gave Monroe Avenue to the Potomac Yard developers, they solved the problem of all the east bound traffic wanting to go onto Rt 1 or the Parkway by routing all the traffic through two 22 foot wide all residential streets. All streets in Alexandria seem to now be fair game. The old position of "protecting" residential streets and neighborhoods from through traffic has been thrown out the window in Council's eagerness to please developers. King Street is actually 4 lanes as you have to count the parking lanes on both sides. When we talk about 2 lane streets, we are talking about streets with two lanes period. There is a very big difference. Plus, the last time I checked, King Street wasn't a residential street.
Bill Cook May 23, 2012 at 02:33 PM
On can argue about the merits of the trolley, but to say that Del Ray is the exclusive domain of locals, and that visitors would not take a "long ride" to Del Ray, or that businesses in Del Ray "hardly are a draw" for tourists is off the mark. I am a Del Ray resident, and I work in a Del Ray business, and we get visitors all the time who are staying in Old Town and various places throughout the region. Pretty much any travel article, web posting, etc. that mentions Alexandria says something about Del Ray, so its fairly well known.
Olga Vitti May 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
There's actually about 14 restaurants and plenty of shops, parks, and fabulous old homes to check out in Del Ray (from the outside of course). Lots of vintage, small-town charm as well.
arlingtonrap May 23, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Has anyone suggested having a stop at the Potomac Yards shopping center? I would think residents without a car would appreciate that. I live in Crystal City and I would take the Metro to King St. and the trolley to Del Ray first to walk around and then get on again to the shopping center. Then again, I'll do anything to get out of Crystal City.
arlingtonrap May 23, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I know the 10A bus does the same but it doesn't run very often (maybe every hour on Sundays).
Susie2You May 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
So now the transportation people at city hall are running a popularity contest, scuse me a survey to choose the route? How completely lame. I smell pork and it isn't from the Pork Barrell BBQ.
Paula Hoelzel May 24, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Anything that could help small businesses on Mt Vernon Ave would be great! These small businesses, doing what they love makes Del Ray a fun place to live and they have helped greatly raise everyone's property values over the years. We see them open, pour all of their money, energy and time into them and then close due to lack of business. We all say we want to support the small businesses in Del Ray, it would be great if we could really start doing it!
David May 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM
My responses to the survey: 1) Route option #4 is best: Go for the best political solution. Arlandria wants to take advantage of the City's investment and Parker-Grey does not. 2) Name: "The Avenue Trolly" is short, descriptive, and avoids confusion with the other Mt Vernon. 3) Change hours of operation to support late night activities. Move 1-1/2 hours from beginning of Thurs & Fri to end of Fri & Sat, specifically: Thursday - 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday – 4:30 p.m. to midnite Saturday – 11:30 a.m. to midnite Sunday – 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 4. Survey should have included a place for general comments
Doug May 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM
The survey had a fill-in the blank section at the bottom of the page. I know it was there because I left a comment.
Phillip Cide May 24, 2012 at 06:42 PM
On the survey page I saw, the last block was for providing contact information.

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