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Council Questions Preliminary Trolley Route into Del Ray

Members express concern that trolley route doesn't go farther north on Mt. Vernon Avenue.

The Alexandria City Council tapped the brakes on the proposed motorized trolley service in the Del Ray area on Tuesday after members expressed concerns with the proposed route, the name of the line and lack of consultation with some civic groups.

Mayor Bill Euille also expressed some displeasure with how council failed to receive a briefing on the matter from the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services before it was discussed in the press.

“I just think we need to be very cautious in terms of when we do presentations, what we say, in terms of making certain that the legislative body that has to make the final decision is fully cognizant in terms of what you’re doing out in the community,” Eullie said.

T&ES revealed the proposed route (see attached map) two weeks ago at a public meeting. At the time, members of the Arlandria-Chirilagua Business Association .

On Tuesday, Councilmen Rob Krupicka and Paul Smedberg said they hadn’t heard a convincing reason as to why it didn’t go further into that neighborhood. Krupicka said he would at least like to see it reach . Smedberg said he wanted to see it reach the Mount Vernon Village Center, .

The proposed trolley route completes a loop on W. Reed Avenue and E. Glebe Road just south of the Birchmere.

“To go another 300 or 400 feet I think would be worth the effort,” Smedberg said.

T&ES Deputy Director Abi Lerner said the preliminary route was selected because of the constraints associated with the ability to turn the trolley around and complete the route in a reasonable amount of time.

“We certainly can go back and take another look,” Lerner said.

Krupicka and Councilwoman Del Pepper said they’d like to see the line named something more inclusive like “The Mount Vernon Avenue Trolley” as opposed to the working title of “The Del Ray Trolley.”

Councilwoman Alicia Hughes asked that all civic organizations in neighborhoods impacted by the trolley route be included in upcoming discussions. Members of the civic groups in West Old Town and Arlandria have said they were not included in any preliminary talks about the trolley expansion.

T&ES had planned to issue a request for proposals from contractors to operate the trolley in the next few weeks, but during Tuesday’s discussion the mayor and council asked Lerner and T&ES to bring closure to these issues and then bring the proposal back to council before sending out a request for contractors.

T&ES Director Rich Baier that trolley service on Mt. Vernon Avenue would begin in September or October at the earliest.

RJ April 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Lets be honest, the trolley is meant for tourist. Where in Arlandria would tourist feel comfortable? Sounds like people want this to be a free bus service for locals.
Marcel April 12, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Why is the city wasting money on this? Is this federal money? And if so, why does the city want to waste federal money on this? Who is the target audience? We already have Dash bus service. Del Ray is not a tourist trap like Old Town. Why would we want to try to turn it into one?
Drew Hansen (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Thanks for your comment, Marcel. I don't believe there is any federal money involved in the expansion of trolley service down Mt. Vernon Avenue. The project is being paid for out of the money reserved for transportation projects out of the general tax rate. The city did use stimulus money to purchase the new trolleys that will go into service on King Street later this month. DASH will soon operate the King Street Trolley. The Mt. Vernon Avenue trolley will initially be operated by a contractor.
Marcel April 12, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thank you for the information Drew. I believe that money would be better spent enhancing Dash bus service. I don't understand the motivation behind a trolley.
Marlin G. Lord April 12, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It is all about the future atmosphere for Arlandria that we have been working on for years. We think that with this line in conjuntion with the King Street Trolley visitors from National Harbor on the water taxi can enjoy King Street and also Mount Venon Avenue. The more mass of users will make it safe. Look what we did in turning Mount Vernon Avenue around. Marlin G. Lord Architect on the Avenue and Del Ray Artisans.
Marlin G. Lord April 12, 2012 at 04:33 PM
See my previous post. I also agree that the trolley can go a block further into Arlandria and turn around in the city owned parking lot. After the Arlandria project which has just been approved is complete the tolley can be phased to extend further north. I like the change of the tolley to the Mount Vernon Avenue Trolley. Wouldn't it be wonderful if visitors from National Harbor paid a visit to Del Ray Artisans. Marlin G. Lord Architect on the Avenue and Del Ray Artisans.
Robby A. April 12, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Is it much too late to register a "no trolley" opinion? Because I agree...it doesn't seem to fit the neighborhood.
Maria Wasowski April 12, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Unfortunately, we get phone calls at A Show of Hands all the time from people who are going down the parkway towards Mt. Vernon the estate who think they're going to find Mt. Vernon Avenue down there and get really confused. Wherever the trolley goes, whether it's Del Ray or Arlandria or both, let's have the name of the destination on the vehicle, how about Del Ray and Arlandria trolley? I think if tourists see something that says Mt. Vernon Avenue trolley, they'll think it's a free shuttle to the GW estate.
Paula Hoelzel April 12, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I think Arlandria has a lot of clean up to do before we bring a trolley full of tourists down there. The buildings are in desperate need of repair and the sidewalks and surrounding areas are filthy. You wouldn't bring guest to your home without cleaning it up first! I'm not sure who is responsible to do this clean-up, but Old Town and the Del Ray area isn't in this condition!
Phillip Cide April 13, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Reaching the Birchmere would only be partially useful unless they also extend the hours of operation to being much later then planned. Under the current plan, you could get there, but would have to take a taxi back (or leave the show early).
denise benoit April 13, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I've been waiting for some sort of transportation solution in Del Ray, as I've lived in the 'hood for 25 years. As this part of the city, including Arlandria, grows and is filled with restaurants, shopping and local establishments, without a trolly and little parking, we will suppress business vs. encourage it without something like the trolly. Yeah for the trolley. great idea to bring people to the 'hood and not increase traffic or parking.
Jaime G April 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
RJ, I agree. This is a very transparent move by the City to get free bus service up to Arlandria. This is distressing considering the proposed increase in real estate taxes they are poised to consider. The property owners in the city need to be assured that the trolley is getting tourists to where they want to go, not being used as another free city service.
DSS April 14, 2012 at 05:54 AM
Yes - everything for Del Ray with taxes paid by all citizens!
Kim Moore April 14, 2012 at 09:42 PM
The trolley name should indicate Mt. Vernon Ave. Perhaps it could be the Mt. Vernon Ave/Del Ray Trolley? Many visitors might not know that Mt. Vernon Ave. is in Del Ray. For the preliminary runs, extending it a few blocks to include Arlandria may be good; however, if the preliminary plan has limited funding, keeping the current plan could help to determine the trolley's popularity. I hope that the trolley will he to alleviate some of the parking concerns that residents in Del Ray have raised. I am sure that my family will be more likely to walk to the restaurants then trolley home when the service begins.

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