The Beauregard Rezoning Advisory Group unanimously recommended an ellipse design for the future intersection of Seminary Road and Beauregard Street in hopes of keeping traffic moving freely through the congested area.
The vote, which did not explicitly approve the design but stated it was consistent with the Beauregard Small Area Plan, came after several community members voiced strong opposition to the ellipse during the advisory group meeting Wednesday night at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center. The ellipse, in which Seminary Road traffic would continue straight through the intersection while Beauregard Street traffic would be diverted in an oval shape, was the city’s preferred design out of five alternatives.
Angry residents said they had been left out of the decision-making process and expressed concern about a lack of public information about the plan, its price and its effect on response times for emergency first responders. Annabelle Fisher, a Southern Towers resident, told the advisory group she felt the ellipse design was a “done deal,” without citizen input.
“Many of us do not support this,” Fisher said.
Shirley Downs, vice president of the Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association and chairwoman of the association’s development committee on Beauregard and BRAC, told the group she feared the city would have trouble financing the ellipse in light of dwindling state and federal transportation funding.
“My great fear is we are possibly not going to be able to do that,” Downs said.
Rich Baier, director of the city's Transportation and Environmental Services Department, told residents the other four intersection design options contained “fatal flaws.” The ellipse plan has undergone multiple technical reviews, including by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which held that it would be able to accommodate future traffic, he said
“They want it,” Baier said. “We’re moving forward.”
Advisory group member Cathy Puskar said the Alexandria fire chief has said anything that moves traffic faster through the intersection is an improvement. The ellipse would be funded through developer contributions and tax increment financing, Puskar said.
Advisory group Chairman David Baker noted the final design is years away. “There is going to be more public comment,” he said. “There is going to be more debate. There are going to be more revisions.”
Steve Sindiong, a principal transportation planner with the city, presented the five alternatives. They were:
- A no-build option, except for short- and medium-term VDOT projects. Sindiong said that option could pose problems for westbound traffic on Seminary Road that could back up to I-395, was not pedestrian-friendly and wouldn’t adequately accommodate future growth.
- A parallel road option. Cons for this option included the displacement of up to 17 townhomes, more traffic on residential street, increased noise in residential areas and significant right-of-way costs.
- A traffic circle. Sindiong said that option would create delays on westbound Seminary Road, didn’t adequately address future growth and included moderate right-of-way impacts.
- Grade separation of the streets, with one elevated over the other. Cons of this plan included merging issues on westbound Seminary Road that could lead to collisions, a high cost of $42 million and impacts to the parking lot of Southern Towers.
With the ellipse, Sindiong said, “the pros really outnumber the cons in terms of impacts.” Arguments for the ellipse included at-grade construction, a gateway opportunity and accommodation for future growth. The cons were that it was an unconventional design and included moderate right-of-way impacts.