In May 2004, the City established the Ad Hoc Transportation Task Force to develop/update the City’s Transportation Master Plan. A central focus of this Task Force was to increase the prevalence and use of transit in the City. After many public meetings, hearings and work sessions, the Ad Hoc Transportation Task Force issued the City of Alexandria Comprehensive Transportation Master Plan in January 2008, which was subsequently adopted by City Council in April 2008. The first chapter in this Master Plan focuses on “Transit” and states that, “the City will expand local and regional transportation options to reduce traffic congestion and decrease public dependence on the automobile.” The Master Plan continues by noting that the first step to making this happen is to “secure dedicated, congestion-free, transit rights-of-way for future transit services using advanced technologies.” Three specific “corridors” in the City were identified in the Master Plan as being priority locations for “transit” – one of which is the Van Dorn/Beauregard Corridor, also known as Transit Corridor C.
As originally envisioned in the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Transit Corridor C would
“begin at the northern City limit with Arlington along Beauregard Street, coordinating and integrating service with the City of Arlington, to provide connection to the Pentagon to the North. Traveling South the corridor will provide access to the Mark Center, Landmark Mall area, and Eisenhower area in the City. At its southern terminus the Van Dorn/Shirlington corridor will coordinate and integrate with service provided by Fairfax County to Kingstowne and points south. In addition, this corridor will provide for a direct connection to the Van Dorn Street Metrorail station via dedicated lanes.” (City of Alexandria Comprehensive Transportation Master Plan, January 25, 2008, p. 1-9)
Meanwhile, both preceding and paralleling the development of a Transportation Master Plan for the City of Alexandria was the planning of a streetcar system along Columbia Pike in Arlington and Fairfax counties. In the spring of 2006, both counties formally endorsed the construction of a “modified streetcar” that would run along Columbia Pike from Pentagon City to Skyline and began the process of coordinating this project with the public/stakeholders and conducting the various studies required so that the Columbia Pike Streetcar could begin revenue service on part of the line by 2014 and be completed by 2016. In the spring of 2008, officials of the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) approached officials in Arlington and Fairfax Counties about extending the Columbia Pike Streetcar line from Skyline to the NOVA campus in western Alexandria and the possibility of building a streetcar maintenance facility at NOVA that could serve as the basis for a formal training program in streetcar maintenance. As a result of these discussions, the proposed alignment of the Columbia Pike Streetcar line was extended from Skyline to the NOVA campus in western Alexandria. This change in the alignment of the Columbia Pike Streetcar also changed the original thinking about the alignment of transit in Corridor C in Alexandria.
While the “Land Use” and “Transportation” planning of the Columbia Pike Corridor were closely coordinated over the span of a decade in Arlington County (see attached Pike Transit Initiative Chart), such was not the case for the planning of transit and land use in the Beauregard Corridor in Alexandria. Only after the decision had been made to locate transit in the Beauregard Corridor and the BRAC-133 building was already under construction near the corner of Beauregard Street and Seminary Road did Alexandria take action to update the land use plan for the Beauregard Corridor Area. Specifically, six months after DOD announced in November 2008 that it intended to build BRAC-133 near the corner of Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, Alexandria’s City Council authorized “the City Manager to prepare and submit an application for grant funding . . . to support the Beauregard Corridor Plan work program.” The June 2009 memorandum regarding this grant application notes that, “three recent actions have combined to make it important to update the Alexandria West Small Area Plan in the Beauregard corridor area.” The “three recent actions” cited were:
“1. The BRAC-133 decision to locate more than 6,400 employees at Mark Center, bringing rapid relocation of these employees and a use with some unique impacts and requirements to this area.
“2. The adoption in the Transportation Master Plan of a dedicated transit corridor on Beauregard Street. Both physical changes to the street and changes to transit services could stimulate redevelopment of the area and encourage a change in its character. The BRAC-133 Mark Center project may accelerate the need for improvements in this corridor including the potential widening of Beauregard Street for dedicated transit lanes. The City is about to undertake a major feasibility analysis of the citywide dedicated transit corridors.
“3. The 2006 sale of the Mark Center properties to JBG and others. JBG has indicated an interest in developing a new master plan for their holdings, and others may have different economic and other interests than the previous owners. Redevelopment of a number of these properties over the next five to 10 years is possible. The BRAC-133 Mark Center project may significantly accelerate the changes and may change the character of potential development.” (Memorandum from the City Manager to City Council regarding “Authorization to seek OEA grant funding assistance for the Beauregard Corridor Plan working program,” June 3, 2009)
This grant application marked the formal debut of the Beauregard Corridor Planning Area map with its red outline of the official Planning Area.
In September 2009, the City received the grant to begin updating the Beauregard Corridor Planning Area and set about doing so by hiring a number of consultants to work on various planning options and meeting with the residents of Alexandria’s West End to discuss the planning of the Beauregard Corridor Area. When the City-led efforts to update the land use plans for the Beauregard Corridor Area stalled in the Fall of 2010, the residents and/or property owners of Alexandria’s West End took it upon themselves to form the Beauregard Corridor Stakeholders Group so that they could work collaboratively to review the existing conditions in and update the zoning of the Beauregard Corridor Planning Area.