Access to Telegraph Road ramp would change under Alexandria pilot program

In Virginia, the City of Alexandria has plans to improve traffic flow along busy Duke Street, near the ramp onto Telegraph Road, but some in the surrounding neighborhood are concerned solving one problem will cause other problems.

The span of Telegraph just off Duke — halfway between Interstate 395 and Old Town Alexandria — provides access on and off the Capital Beltway.

For years, small neighborhoods off Duke have dealt with cut-through traffic, with drivers trying to get to or from the Beltway.

The city has long-term plans to improve mobility and traffic congestion — the Duke Street and West Taylor Run Project. And it will start a short-term pilot program to test out traffic flow and its affects on surrounding neighborhoods.

Currently, the intersection of West Taylor Run and Duke sits near service roads and small streets, which enable drivers to determine whether they want to travel east or west on Duke, near the Telegraph entry ramp off Duke.

Under the new pilot program, drivers on West Taylor Run would not be able to cross Duke and immediately get on the Telegraph entry ramp. The city will use flexible posts to close off access to the ramp.

Here’s a look at how traffic would be redirected along Duke Street when traffic is no longer allowed to access the Telegraph Road ramp from West Taylor Run Parkway. (Courtesy Alexandria TES)

The city would allow traffic to go east on Duke from West Taylor Run, but to access Telegraph, drivers would need to turn right onto Dove Street and then turn back onto westbound Duke to access the Telegraph exit, or they would need to go west on a service road to Duke at West Taylor Run to Cambridge Road and turn back onto Duke.

Drivers would be encouraged to use Quaker Lane to get to Duke Street, something city officials has been working since it started restricting traffic onto East Taylor Run and encouraging the use of Quaker Lane.

Here are the key findings of Alexandria’s first phase of traffic calming. (Courtesy Alexandria TES)

Residents who watched the meeting over Zoom or who attended the meeting say they are concerned about pedestrian access across Duke and that both Cambridge and Dove would become traffic choke points.

Cars are seen turning from West Taylor Run Parkway onto the ramp for Telegraph Road, which leads to the Capital Beltway. Under the pilot program, the timing of the lights would change. The ramp traffic would only stop for pedestrians if they push the button. Otherwise, it would be green. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

The other concern revolves around the long-term plans for the area, which may include creating a new traffic light on Duke at East Taylor Run. Neighbors on the narrow street fought for years, starting in 2002, for speed tables to calm cut-through traffic.

With preliminary design plans including a traffic light at Duke, residents on East Taylor Run — which now has speed tables — expressed concern the city’s new long-term plans will create a new cut-through, undoing the traffic calming they acquired years ago.

Tuesday afternoon, Hillary Orr, Alexandria’s Deputy Director of Transportation told WTOP the idea of a new light was in an early grant proposal, but is no longer a part of the long-term plan.

“We are not considering a signal at East Taylor Run at this time,” Orr told WTOP. “We are putting out new concepts this fall to discuss with the community.”

In Monday’s meeting, traffic officials said they expect the pilot program to begin in late summer, restricting access to the Telegraph ramp, and will closely monitor the program’s effect on surrounding neighborhoods.

Listen to the 23-minute segment of the traffic board meeting related to Duke Street.
Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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