Student News - Tim Keefe and CJ Shepherdson

Seminary Road: Did they take a wrong turn?

            “Bicyclists and Pedestrian Safety.” According to the Alexandria Gazette, those are the reasons for the changes that are coming and have started on Seminary Road. The city of Alexandria has moved past phase 3 and the city has started to pave the road at night. The paving is set to take place between Quaker Lane and Howard Street. Whether those changes will have a positive or negative impact, no one knows yet. Only time will tell. 

            In mid September, the Alexandria City Council voted and passed a new plan to reduce the four lanes on Seminary Road. The new revised plan is known as the Vision Zero Action and Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. The main reasons that Seminary is going on a “road diet” and slimming down is because according to WTOP, “the speed has spiraled out of control endangering the civilians.” The four lane road that was once there will now have two directional lanes, a turn lane in the middle, and two bike lanes on the outside near the sidewalks. This change will hopefully increase the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists when using the road. 

            The 4-3 vote was cast after a year-long study of the road and constant backlash from the local residents regarding the safety of pedestrians. However, most of the people who live in the “West End” of Alexandria want to keep the four lane road because of the consequences that could arise from this. Madame Van Way, a resident of the West End, when asked about the issue said, “I am not in favor of this change. I take Seminary             Road every day and I know it will impact me and the time it takes for me to get to school. I do not think many cyclists even use that section of Seminary Road. I never see them and I use the road every day and have used it for the past 18 years.” The traffic along that section of the road will likely rise all throughout the times of the day, especially during the critical times like before and after school rush hour.  

            Kathryn Atkinson, a senior and another fellow resident of the West End, said “I will have to wake up earlier to get to school and it will cause a lot of stress for me.” This is a very common viewpoint from the people that will be affected by the change. At the hearing to vote on the Seminary Road plan, James Ray, a public speaker, was in favor of keeping the four lanes and said “we are not a small French village. No one rides their bike to work to get a baguette. We need to get around.” 

            The change may increase the amount of bikers that use that section of the road, but that is not guaranteed. Senior, Elise Hellmann said “bikes are good for the environment” but then later said “I have never seen a bike on Seminary Road.” Senior Ashley Van Horne said “I’m upset that there is so much traffic and congestion due to the construction.” The construction has started but according to the first set of plans, the city is a month on the roads. 

            There is no doubt that this upcoming change will affect student drivers in the SSSAS community. The question Alexandria City will have to answer is, will the change be significant in solving the problems at hand or just create more?