Alexandria mayor: Protecting neighborhoods from traffic is part of plan to bring Wizards, Caps to the city

Alexandria’s Mayor Justin Wilson says there’s a lot of work ahead “if and when” the Capitals and Wizards move to the Northern Virginia city.

One aspect of the potential development of a $2 billion sports and entertainment complex at Potomac Yard, said Wilson, would be “keeping the number of parking spaces on this site at a minimum.”

Wilson told members of the Del Ray Citizens Association that the proposed development “is intended to be a transit arena,” and that the plan is to have a total of 2,500 underground parking spaces available.

Noting that in the past, the area had a parking capacity of 3,700 parking spaces, Wilson said, “this will be a significant net reduction in the number of parking spaces that are on this site.”

Residents of the Del Ray neighborhood have expressed concern that, despite efforts to encourage transit use, they could see spillover traffic. One of the questions posed to Wilson was whether the city council would consider creating a new residential permit parking district as part of the approval process for the program.

Saying that he couldn’t speak for the entire council, Wilson said, “If and when this goes forward, we’re going to have to do a whole series of neighborhood protection kind of things, and residential parking permit is one of them.”

Wilson added, “Certainly we would never want to see a situation where … our neighborhoods would become street parking for this, or even the Metro in general.”

While Wilson said there would “clearly” have to be improvements made to the Potomac Yard station to accommodate crowds who would want to attend events at the new sports and entertainment complex.

“There is clearly going to have to be intersection and roadway improvements on Route 1 as well as adjacent intersections” to ensure that the volume of incoming traffic doesn’t “create problems for the neighborhoods,” he said.

Wilson said the current bus rapid transit system that serves Alexandria provides more options, and added that system could be expanded.

“This is the most transit-rich area of our city,” he said. “There is probably no place else in our city that has more transit capacity and higher frequency transit capacity.”

A study on the projected economic impact of the development should be out “very soon,” according to Wilson.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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