Many people think that density is really good for Alexandria, but in my opinion, almost every major problem within our community can be traced to over-densification. We are the densest city within the State of Virginia, and we continue to get denser by the day. We have only 15.0 square miles of land space, so we can’t just keep building townhomes and condos everywhere without considering improving the infrastructure, especially sewerage and flooding, and having an efficient grid, since higher density requires less dependence on the automobile.
Moreover, the auto-based communities being built do not accommodate our geography. Alexandria is at the nexus of major north south /east west thoroughfares to DC and Arlington, and this through traffic is likely to persist for some time to come, especially with the decline of Metro service. You just can’t keep building auto-based communities that feed into this mix without further impacting traffic and quality of life. The effect of this increasing traffic congestion cannot be underestimated. as our ability to provide adequate parking facilities for visitors and residents is diminishing in most areas of the city. Our ability to conduct business especially in Old Town will be severely curtailed, thereby resulting in fewer people visiting the many unique shops and restaurants.
Also, when additional communities are built, more services are required (e.g., schools and fire stations) which should be planned for with no impact on current taxpayers, but this is not always the case. Living within an overly dense auto-based environment with the effects of increased traffic congestion and air pollution is not a winning combination. The mental health implications cannot be underestimated. Our current policies governing planning and zoning need to be rigorously followed without giving every new development a free pass through the process. Otherwise the few examples I have cited will only get worse and we will end up looking like Crystal City.
Townsend A. "Van" Van Fleet