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A Car-Free Pedestrian Plaza in Old Town Alexandria Could Happen

Photograph via iStock.

You may no longer have to take your life into your hands when crossing the street in front of the Torpedo Factory: A block or two of King Street close to the Potomac River could become a car-free pedestrian zone if a proposal from Alexandria’s mayor and one of its city council members gains traction.

Alexandria experimented with closing the 100 block of King Street during several summer weekends in 2006. Now that Alexandria has rejuvenated its waterfront, Mayor Justin Wilson writes in the June edition his monthly “Council Connection” newsletter, it could be “the perfect time to resurrect a good idea that may have been slightly before its time in our City.”

Wilson and Councilman John Chapman have asked city staff to study the idea of closing the 100 and perhaps 200 blocks of King Street and report back. They ask the city to consider more outdoor dining capacity, more programing tied in with the new Waterfront Park, and more bike infrastructure. Alexandrians have yet to weigh in en masse, but if the reactions of some to bike lanes and bike-share stations, a chicken butchery, or dockless scooters are precedent, the Facebook comments and letters in the local papers about this proposal should be worth watching.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.