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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Is it traffic-calming or traffic-choking?

Editor’s Notebook: Is it traffic-calming or traffic-choking?

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The Alexandria Times newspaper, sentinel of the truth in the community of my birth, usually can be counted on for some common-sense editorial-page position, as was the case last week in parsing plans by that city’s leaders to deal with the challenges of transportation along Duke Street.

And there are plenty of challenges, as the roadway is difficult for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, and existing gridlock has resulted in cut-through traffic onto neighborhood streets. (Sound familiar, Arlington and Fairfax residents?)

Alexandria leaders and the staff who work for them have proposed a number of solutions, but the editorial-writer has divined the problem.


“Unfortunately, while each solution that is being developed looks reasonable when taken individually, when put together they will make Duke Street impassable for people in private motor vehicles,” the editorial suggests.

And that, for anyone who understands the intent of traffic planners in Northern Virginia, is probably the ultimate goal. Private vehicles, as viewed by planners, are the root of all evil, except of course when driven by the “right kind of people” – presumably including the transportation planners and elected officials themselves.

The editorial also notes that Alexandria’s urbanization in the last decade is one major cause for much of the transportation difficulties.

“We think the negative consequences of Alexandria’s rapid overdevelopment of the past 10 years for outweigh any potential developments,” the editorial opines, and one can see the same thing play out across the area as local governments work really hard to squeeze as much tax-revenue-producing development as they can into limited space.

(See our coverage on plans for Langston Blvd. in Arlington coming up this week for another example.)

Ah well, you get what you get, voters, whether it’s unchecked southern borders and out-of-control spending at the federal level, unbridled increases in crime in New York City, feces on the streets of San Francisco or an increasingly urban (for good or bad) Northern Virginia. An electorate unhappy with any of that has the chance to fix it, if willing to take the initiative. Too often, that never happens, particularly at the local level.

FOUR TO GO ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL-OFFICER FRONT: Next year brings the only time in every eight-year cycle in which all five Arlington constitutional offices are on the ballot. (Most of the constitutionals have four-year term, but that lucky stiff Paul Ferguson, like all clerks of the Circuit Court around the commonwealth, has an eight-year term.)

Snuck into coverage last week was county treasurer Carla de la Pava’s informal but still firm announcement that she’s running for re-election. One presumes we’ll be hearing from Ferguson, Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy and Sheriff Beth Arthur by the end of the year.

Will there be any retirements? Could be. Will there be any challengers to incumbents in the Democratic primary? We’ll see. Will there be any viable alternatives on the general-election ballot in November 2023? Seems unlikely but hope springs eternal.

Anyhoo, de la Pava got the ball rolling. Never too early!

– Scott McCaffrey

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