The Alexandria City Council approved the Eisenhower West Small Area on May 29, 2013, to be the foremost item on the agenda for the Alexandria Department of Planning and Zoning. The planning project is taking into account community visions, issue identification and the basic plan framework and is anticipated to be completed in late 2015. The City Manager appointed 12 members of the Alexandria Community to serve on the Eisenhower West Steering Committee. This committee will serve to guide the planning process as well as provide insight on suggested development ideas resulting from the Eisenhower West Transportation Study. The City’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services is conducting this study at the same time as the Small Area Plan.
The Eisenhower West Study Area is bounded by the Henry G Shirley Memorial Highway on the North West side, Holmes Run Parkway on the North East side, the Capitol Beltway on the South and Stulz Road on the West side.
As of July 28th, 2014 there have been two community meetings and four steering committee meetings concerning the development of the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan. The fourth steering committee meeting, which took place on June 30th, involved discussions about existing transportation issues within the Eisenhower West area as well as a report on an online, voluntary transportation poll and finally a discussion on the development possibility of a multimodal bridge.
There are three main purpose goals of the transportation study that is being conducted in conjunction with the small area plan study. They are to examine various land use scenarios to be explored in the small area plan, conduct an analysis of the Multi-modal bridge idea that was recommended in the Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan (2009) and to conduct an analysis on the need for an extension of the Clermont Connector between Eisenhower Ave and Duke Street.
At the Steering Committee Meeting, members emphasized the need to define ‘underutilized’ in the context of Van Dorn Metrorail station. In a memo following the meeting, staff wrote that in comparison to other Alexandria Metrorail stations, the Van Dorn station has a significantly lower number of riders who walk to the station and a higher number of users that access the station by shuttle or personal car. WMATA has show that the station capacity could increase within the existing infrastructure but if the number of daily riders who arrive at the station by car or shuttle increases, there would be little room to accommodate them. T&ES recommends that the best way to improve utilization and accommodate more riders at the Van Dorn station would be through improving pedestrian and bike connectivity from the surrounding area.
The Steering Committee Meeting also discussed the option for a multi-modal bridge that was originally proposed in the 2009 Landmark/Van Dorn Corridor Plan. The multimodal bridge is still under much debate but could possibly be placed on the western edge of Armistead Booth Park, and staff stated that it aims to recommend touchdown locations for the bridge on Eisenhower Ave and South Pickett Street. There was much talk over what forms of transportation the bridge would hold and whether or not automobiles would be allowed.
Next steps for the 5th Steering Committee Meeting will involve further discussion into the two main issues facing the Eisenhower West area; the economic development of the region and emphasis on the entire Eisenhower Valley as one economic corridor, and the utilization of the Van Dorn Metrorail station.
The second and most recent Community Meeting too place on July 28th. At the meeting, three community-visioning activities were conducted in order to get a better idea for the change community members would like to see in the Eisenhower West area. The first exercise was a long term visioning exercise, which produced a graphic that can be seen on the Alexandria City - Eisenhower West website here; http://www.alexandriava.gov/EisenhowerWest. This graphic will serve as a marketing tool and reference piece as the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan continues to develop. The second activity involved placing preferences, symbolized by difference colored stickers, on items community members would like to see emphasized in the plan. There were three key topic areas in which participants could place their stickers; Land Uses and Building Heights, Parks and Public Spaces and Amenities and Streetscape Elements. What is interesting to note is that in terms of building heights, the majority of stickers were placed in either the mid rise (4-8 stories) or high rise (9+ stories) categories. This indicates the desire for higher density in the Eisenhower West area as compared to the existing density now. Connectivity was also a very popular category to place a preference sticker, indicating the desire of community members for higher connectivity in the area. The third activity asked participants to place stickers in places they wanted to preserve or enhance in the Eisenhower West area. There was a high preference to preserve the Cameron Station area while enhancement of the businesses on Pickett Street was a highlighted choice.