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Alexandria To Overhaul King Street Metro

Plans call for end to parking spots

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Alexandria is planning to overhaul the King Street metro to make it better representative of Old Town.
Charles Smith: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24415055@N00/4942823099/
Alexandria is planning to overhaul the King Street metro to make it better representative of Old Town.

Kiss and Ride, but don't park. That's the idea behind Alexandria's new $7 million plan to redesign the King Street Metro station.

Under the plans, riders will say 'goodbye' to the 30 parking spaces and 'hello' to new landscaping, bicycle parking, larger bus waiting and layover areas. City officials say having a suburban parking lot is out of place in a metropolitan area, and so they want to reshape the surface parking lot into a transit hub that increases pedestrian safety.

"We've maintained a balance," says city transportation director Rich Baier. "But we think that the balance is tipped more in the pedestrian and the transit and the cyclist sort of favor." Alexandria, which is more urban than neighboring stations like Springfield or Van Dorn, Baier says, should have a more urban transportation hub.

Planning Director Faroll Hamer tells City Council members that the changes are intended to make Old Town less reliant on single-occupancy vehicles.

"They really function to make this a transit hub, and to make the buses and pedestrian access differentiated, easier, and for people getting off the Metro station to immediately find King Street," Hamer says. "As you know, people complain they can't find it very easily."

City leaders say a recent fatality at the Metro station created a need for increased pedestrian safety. They were also looking at a number of other potential improvements, but abandoned the ideas to expedite the project. Items on the chopping block include dynamic message boards at bus shelters and brick sidewalks.

Councilwoman Del Pepper says she's pleased that the brick sidewalks were removed from the plan because she often gets her heels stuck in the cracks, and she knows that many other pedestrians have the same issue.

"That really is a problem, although I know that they are very cute and Old Townish -- Charm-ville, if you will," says Pepper.

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