Council Notebook

Council Notebook

More Cars, More Congestion?

New developments in Alexandria have created a familiar problem that seems to get worse every day: traffic congestion. Every new condominium building brings new residents and new cars to the same old roads that were congested to begin with.

“The city cannot build its way out of congestion,” said Richard Baier, director of Transportation and Environmental Services.

The impact of new development is difficult to determine, and City Hall analysts use a number of measures to examine the cause-and-effect relationship between growth and gridlock. But they might soon be getting some help. The City Council is considering a new plan to require some developers to pay for a “third-party review” of the consequences of development.

“We’re hoping to get a fresh set of eyes,” said Eileen Fogarty, director of Planning and Zoning.

While all the council members seemed receptive to the idea, Councilman Andrew Macdonald questioned the utility of the plan to require third-party reviews. He said that they would be meaningless unless the City Council took action to change the kind of development in the city.

“We talk about smart growth, but we continue to build projects that are car dependent,” he said. “We’re trying to have our cake and eat it too.”

The plan is scheduled for public hearing at the council’s March 18 meeting.



At the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Ludwig Gaines brought up a recurring problem for residents of the city’s public housing: rats. He says that he has heard complaints about “rats the size of cats” creating holes and causing havoc.

“There is the sense that if these people lived somewhere else, then action would have been taken,” Gaines said. “We are dealing with a segment of the population that does not have the means to take care of this problem themselves.”

Mayor Bill Euille said that rats are a problem throughout the city.

“We have a rat population that’s about twice the size of the human population,” Euille said. “They live in the sewers.”

“They’re part of the tax base,” Councilman Andrew Macdonald said, prompting laughter in the council chamber.

Mayor Euille said that code-enforcement employees would investigate ways to combat the rat problem in the city’s public housing units.