Alexandria City Council's Deadly Vote
Citizens are outraged by City Council's deadly vote on Seminary Road. In case you were not sure who to hold accountable in next election, they are Justin "Scooter" Wilson, Del Pepper, Bennett Parker, and Aguirre.
See latest update of Seminary Hill Association below.
Seminary Hill Association will NOT hold a board meeting in December. So please do not plan to attend what would have been our meeting on Thursday, December 12th. Our NEXT board meeting will be on January 9, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel Church on the Hill Parish Hall.
Seminary Hill Association held its Annual Meeting on November 14th The officers and Area Representatives for the next year were elected by the membership. The list of our new officers and Area Representatives and At-Large Members will be posted on our website in the next day or two.
The debate regarding the road diet imposed on Seminary Road continues to percolate. At our Annual Meeting, I spoke about the process by which the decision was made and the false allegations leveled against Seminary Hill Association, the 12 other Civic Associations, and the Federation of Civic Associations who supported our position against the road diet. The attacks against our Association by residents who did not agree with the SHA position and the 4 City Council members who ultimately voted for the road diet (Wilson, Pepper, Bennett Parker, and Aguirre) were filled with untruths and were disrespectful of the role civic associations are expected to play in our democratic process.
After the Council vote, some residents created a Facebook page, “Alexandria Residents Against the Seminary Road Diet,” where many residents are documenting the traffic consequences of this decision. Since the road diet began, there have been 5 car accidents on this stretch of roadway in less than 2 months, which is a meteoric rise in the accident rate. Some of us met with Mayor Wilson and Director of Transportation and Environmental Services Director Yon Lambert on Seminary Road last Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. to observe the traffic conditions. After putting forward numerous reasons for the imposition of the road diet during the months of debate, Mayor Wilson now asserts that his reason for aggressively advocating for the road diet was to complete the “missing link” of sidewalk along the north side of Seminary Road that abuts the Virginia Theological Seminary property. It is interesting that the missing link of sidewalk was not ever mentioned in the many public discussions until the final community meeting and was given only scant attention at the Council Public Hearing.
At the meeting on Tuesday morning, when residents challenged Mayor Wilson and Yon Lambert on the safety data that was extrapolated from the western portion of Seminary Road and used to justify the road diet, both asserted that the basis for the road diet was not safety nor the bicycle lanes that are not being used, but was the inconsequential missing sidewalk that required taking a car travel lane away to create the sidewalk and the “buffer area” that also serves as the unused bike lane. For many of us who have been involved in this discussion for well over a year, it is amazing to see how the many different reasons put forward for the road diet are now denied and discarded as residents have challenged the veracity of the city data that was put forward as the original basis for the road diet.
Residents expressed strong concerns about the ability of emergency vehicles to reach their destinations quickly and safely, given the construction of raised concrete islands in the center turn lane that was previously touted by city staff and elected officials as a seamless, non-stop route for safe passage for all emergency vehicles in the new narrow 2 lane configuration of Seminary Road. Emergency vehicles now must pull into one of the 2 car travel lanes that can be jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic at peak periods when they encounter one of the raised islands, thus slowing their travel time and increasing the risk to their patients and other drivers as emergency vehicles weave in and out of the remaining car travel lanes.
Clearly, this is an issue that is not going away, as residents are left to deal with the terrible traffic consequences of this road diet on a daily basis. Using the city’s own statistics on this stretch of the roadway before the road diet, and contrasting them to the 5 accidents that have occurred since the road diet began, this stretch of Seminary Road has now been changed from a very safe road to an unsafe road in a very short span of time. The results of this project validate SHA’s position that this project is a waste of scarce city and state dollars that could have been spent on other transportation projects that would actually improve public safety and achieve the goals of Vision Zero.
All our concerns and predictions have been realized: an enormous increase in congestion at peak hours that belies the city’s estimate of only an 8 second delay in travel time, the creation of much longer backups on other nearby streets as the traffic signals are “optimized” to try and move the same volume of traffic on just 2 lanes of Seminary Road, increased cut-through traffic on neighborhood streets, difficulty for public safety teams to reach our homes or the only hospital in the city, and a startling spike in car accidents. I am heartened to see that the coalition of the 13 civic associations from across the city, the Federation of Civic Associations, and countless residents have remained steadfast in our joint opposition to the road diet being placed on this major arterial road in the heart of central Alexandria. Seminary Hill Association will continue to speak up against projects that adversely impact the quality of life for the majority of our residents.
I encourage you to visit the SHA website page (www.seminaryhillassn.org) to keep current on issues facing our neighborhoods and become engaged with your civic association. Let’s hope that 2020 will be a far less contentious year for all of us I appreciate the opportunity to work with our excellent board as I serve as your President for the next year.
Carter Flemming, President, Seminary Hill Association