Alexandria hopes to combat side street gridlock due in part to GPS apps

Some Alexandria side streets have become popular shortcut recommendations for apps such as Waze and Google Maps, leaving residents frustrated. See what the city is doing to combat the congestion.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For neighborhoods which have become GPS shortcuts during rush hour in the D.C. area, getting to and from your home can be frustrating.

People who live along East Taylor Run Parkway in Alexandria have experienced the headaches of being a common route for mapping apps like Google Maps and Waze. The apps will re-route drivers down their streets to avoid the gridlock of main roads as motorists look to get to Duke Street, Telegraph Road and eventually the Beltway.

“Our tranquil street has been besieged by an unconscionable level of cut through traffic, which just sits and idles and blocks all of our driveways,” said one Alexandria resident, Dana, who didn’t want her last name used.

Some residents say the problems have been around for years as the city and residents struggled to come up with a solution which both agree on.

“It’s reached a boiling point in the past year, where we have seen actual altercations between motorists trying to get through the area and residents,” said Ashkan Bayatpour, who has lived on East Taylor Run Parkway for five years.

After working with residents, the City of Alexandria has decided to put in place a no right turn regulation which prevents drivers from using side streets like East Taylor Run and Montcure Drive as a way around the delays. On Monday, East Taylor Run was quiet, as members of the Alexandria Police Department stop the occasional car which missed the sign, discouraging them from using the route.

“I am very excited to see that the police are here enforcing that rule,” said Sharon Solorzano who came out to greet the officers, spending the afternoon warning drivers about the change.

“People won’t be able to kind of cut through that neighborhood and come back out to get back out on to Telegraph Road,” said Hillary Orr, the deputy director for transportation at Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services.

According to Orr, this regulation change is a pilot program as the city continues to look at the best way to handle heavy traffic some residential streets see during rush hours. Officials hope the pilot program will answer whether traffic will shift to another neighborhood, causing a similar headache for another set of residents.

“It’s really hard to know exactly where people are gonna go, and how they are going to shift their commute,” Orr said.

The city is in contact with mapping companies, with the hope of having popular GPS apps account for the 4p – 7pm no right turn restriction. On day one, they don’t, with one woman getting a police escort through the neighborhood because her phone wouldn’t take her another way.

Orr said other possible solutions being studied are whether or not to expand the restrictions to others streets, redesigning traffic patterns in the area and also adding speed bumps to streets to discourage through traffic.

With similar situations, around the city, Alexandria is also working with other jurisdictions to come up with solutions. Among the discussion, ways to get more people to carpool and encourage use of public transit, something Orr said is needed to truly make an impact.

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