Beauregard Group OKs Ellipse Design for Seminary, Beauregard Intersection

Several community members spoke out against the city’s preferred design.

The Beauregard Rezoning Advisory Group unanimously recommended an ellipse design for the future intersection of Seminary Road and Beauregard Street in hopes of keeping traffic moving freely through the congested area.

The vote, which did not explicitly approve the design but stated it was consistent with the Beauregard Small Area Plan, came after several community members voiced strong opposition to the ellipse during the advisory group meeting Wednesday night at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center. The ellipse, in which Seminary Road traffic would continue straight through the intersection while Beauregard Street traffic would be diverted in an oval shape, was the city’s preferred design out of five alternatives.

Angry residents said they had been left out of the decision-making process and expressed concern about a lack of public information about the plan, its price and its effect on response times for emergency first responders. Annabelle Fisher, a Southern Towers resident, told the advisory group she felt the ellipse design was a “done deal,” without citizen input.

“Many of us do not support this,” Fisher said.

Shirley Downs, vice president of the Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic Association and chairwoman of the association’s development committee on Beauregard and BRAC, told the group she feared the city would have trouble financing the ellipse in light of dwindling state and federal transportation funding.

“My great fear is we are possibly not going to be able to do that,” Downs said.

Rich Baier, director of the city's Transportation and Environmental Services Department, told residents the other four intersection design options contained “fatal flaws.” The ellipse plan has undergone multiple technical reviews, including by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which held that it would be able to accommodate future traffic, he said

“They want it,” Baier said. “We’re moving forward.”

Advisory group member Cathy Puskar said the Alexandria fire chief has said anything that moves traffic faster through the intersection is an improvement. The ellipse would be funded through developer contributions and tax increment financing, Puskar said.

Advisory group Chairman David Baker noted the final design is years away. “There is going to be more public comment,” he said. “There is going to be more debate. There are going to be more revisions.”

Steve Sindiong, a principal transportation planner with the city, presented the five alternatives. They were:

  • A no-build option, except for short- and medium-term VDOT projects. Sindiong said that option could pose problems for westbound traffic on Seminary Road that could back up to I-395, was not pedestrian-friendly and wouldn’t adequately accommodate future growth.
  • A parallel road option. Cons for this option included the displacement of up to 17 townhomes, more traffic on residential street, increased noise in residential areas and significant right-of-way costs.
  • A traffic circle. Sindiong said that option would create delays on westbound Seminary Road, didn’t adequately address future growth and included moderate right-of-way impacts.
  • Grade separation of the streets, with one elevated over the other. Cons of this plan included merging issues on westbound Seminary Road that could lead to collisions, a high cost of $42 million and impacts to the parking lot of Southern Towers.

With the ellipse, Sindiong said, “the pros really outnumber the cons in terms of impacts.” Arguments for the ellipse included at-grade construction, a gateway opportunity and  accommodation for future growth. The cons were that it was an unconventional design and included moderate right-of-way impacts.

Dave Cavanaugh October 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Your headline is misleading. The Beauregard Rezoning Advisory Group did not endorse, approve or recommend the Ellipse, an at-grade circular intersection at Beauregard and Seminary Road. The technical report outlining various alternatives and a preferred option was presented by staff at the meeting. As an at-large member of the Advisory Group, I felt there was insufficient information to justify approval of a preferred option and would not have voted for approval of the report. Besides, the report was little changed from what was presented by staff when the City Council approved the Beauregard Small Area Plan (BSAP). Although parsing words, the report is "consistent" with what had been presented previously by the City staff in support of the resolution approving the BSAP. In my opinion this does not infer approval of the report or an endorsement of the Ellipse.
Rachel Leonard October 25, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Thanks you for your feedback, Mr. Cavanaugh. As I explain in the story, the vote did not explicitly approve the design but stated it was consistent with the Beauregard Small Area Plan. That is what the group "OK'd." I hope this point is clear.
Annabelle Fisher October 25, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Dave Cavanaugh's comments are right on. The Ellipse and/or traffic circle are being pushed on West End residents by Mayor Euille and city council. This BRAG group that both Mayor Euille and council appointed is comprised of folks who support the BSAP as is with the exception of Dave Cavanaugh. He is only person who did not lobby to be part of this group and understands the traffic issues. Rich Baier continues to insult us with his "political talking" points that the Elllipse is the only traffic answer and its time that City Manager Young meets with Mr. Baier and request that he starts telling the truth about this issue. Continuing to insult and disregard west end residents most impacted by the BSAP is insulting and disrespectful. We are listening to all of the misinformation being presented to this BRAG group appointed by Mayor Euille to carry out the wishes of the developers. VDOT does not endorse the Ellipse and there has been no analysis regarding response time for police, fire and EMS. Guess Alexandria is becoming another "pay to play town" like PG County. The BSAP was quickly voted on by Mayor Euille/council after telling us they wouldn't rush this plan through. What a joke. Pay to Play - that's the game now in Alexandria. Remember to vote Nov. 6th and change City Hall.
Jim June 03, 2013 at 06:42 PM
I am more concerned with the wasting of resources. I walk to work and pass right through this area. Day after day I see massive amounts of florescent green coats standing around watching one guy in a backhoe. I have counted up to 13+ people chatting not doing anything. If you are going to put pedestrians at risk during this redesign at least make an attempt to look like you are trying to complete this as fast as possible. I would also like to know what they are going to do about all the bright colored paint that has been sprayed everywhere including one the road itself. It looks like a grade school was handed a box of chalk and told to go wild. Such a shame to see freshly laid sidewalks and roads that are totally ruined by some crazy "safety" paint. Really makes me sad at the amount of waste in this one small area...if you have any question as to the insanity, look at the fence. Someone must have paid a fortune to put that fence from 395 to the intersection...less than a year after it was installed they tore it down...really? Is anyone at all concerned with waste and destruction of brand new infrastructure on this project? Seems there is no coordination at all going on. Than again...who cares...it isn't their money.


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