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.