Series of meetings to discuss N. MacArthur Drive and Bolton Avenue set for this week

In a series of public meetings, the City of Alexandria is seeking comments that will be used to design two major infrastructure projects on North MacArthur Drive and Bolton Avenue.

Following is a lsit of meetings:

  • 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, May 20
  • 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 21
  • 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, May 22

The meetings will be held at Bolton Avenue Community Center.

Both projects seek to transform these corridors by enhancing streetscapes, improving vehicular and pedestrian safety, and expanding opportunities for private-sector development, according to a press release.

“This is not a master planning project,” Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy said in a prepared statement. “This is an infrastructure construction and public safety project.”

According to the Federal Department of Transportation, for every $1 million invested in public infrastructure, there is a longterm return of $6.2 million. The short-term benefit to the local economy, according to the chief economist at Moody’s, is typically $2 for every $1 spent on infrastructure. Additionally, the projects will immediately create several direct and indirect jobs, including approximately 100 construction jobs.

“Investing in infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to ensure we’re receiving  a return,” Roy said. “Without a doubt, both North MacArthur Drive and  Bolton Avenue have serious infrastructure deficiencies that need to be corrected. If we fail to properly address these deficiencies, we are only prolonging problems of blight and disinvestment, problems that burden all of us in Alexandria. Infrastructure spending is almost always appropriate, but more so in downward economic times.”

North MacArthur Drive:

According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, North MacArthur Drive has an abnormally high accident rate and is one of the most dangerous roadways in the region. Interviews with business owners, hotel managers, and other property owners suggest that the safety of North MacArthur Drive is a critical concern.

Improving the safety, the functionality, and the aesthetic of North MacArthur Drive is of regional importance. Nearly one-third of the region’s hotel rooms and two of Alexandria’s three convention centers are located on North MacArthur Drive.

“It’s sometimes easy to overlook, especially for those of us who live here, but North MacArthur Drive is Alexandria’s front door,” Roy said. “It’s where most of our guests stay overnight; it’s where most of our conventions and conferences are held; and it’s a primary gateway into the city.”

Roy credits local economic development expert, Rhonda Reap-Curiel, with this corridor. Also, he said, the North MacArthur corridor was the actual progenitor of the SPARC Initiative.

During the last three decades, North MacArthur Drive has experienced significant changes, most notably, the replacement of large traffic circle at the intersection of Bolton Avenue and the construction of Interstate 49. Both of these projects, along with the expansion and growth that occurred along Highway 28 West, have created challenges for development.

Today, a number of properties along North MacArthur Drive are vacant, blighted, and in disrepair, another reason why the City’s SPARC Initiative identified the need for intervention and infrastructure investment.

SPARC assigned and the Alexandria City Council budgeted $5 million for this infrastructure project, nearly 90 percent of which will be used for construction. During the next four months, a team led by architect Frederic Schwartz will extensively survey and analyze the project area, including but not limited to traffic studies, access management, traffic light synchronization, street lighting, drainage, traffic patterns, and accident “hot spots.”

Schwartz and members of his team will also continue to conduct interviews with key stakeholders, business and property owners, and area residents, in an effort to ensure that the construction project is informed by and best reflects the needs of those most affected.

In addition to improving safety, Mr. Schwartz will also provide plans and construction documents for beautification and streetscape enhancement.

The North MacArthur Drive project is expected to break ground within the next 11 months.

Bolton Avenue:

For more than a decade, the need for intervention on Bolton Avenue has been established, including in the 1999 Alexandria Urban Master Plan and the 2003 McElroy Plan, both of which were adopted by the Alexandria City Council.

More than three decades ago, Bolton Avenue was Alexandria’s primary commercial hub, home to numerous retail stores, professional offices, and an exceptional art deco movie theater. It bisected a thriving, middle-class neighborhood in the center of Alexandria. However, with the opening of the Alexandria Mall in the early 1970s, Bolton Avenue lost many of its anchor stores, and ever since, it has been unable to attract any significant commercial development. These conditions were exacerbated by the construction of Interstate 49, which dramatically reduced the area’s connectivity with Downtown and isolated an entire neighborhood.

Today, Bolton Avenue is plagued by blight, disrepair, and crime. Because of Bolton Avenue’s central location and its importance as a transportation corridor, these problems are highly-visible.

“Bolton Avenue is at the heart of Alexandria,” said Roy. “It is a state highway, and its problems not only affect the quality of life of those who live nearby; it affects us regionally.”

In order to address these issues, SPARC assigned and the Alexandria City Council budgeted $2.5 million for the Bolton Avenue infrastructure project, nearly 90 percent of which will be used for construction. The project will be led by Jeffrey Carbo, an award-winning landscape architect who grew up less than a mile away from Bolton Avenue.

Throughout the next four months, Carbo and his team will work with key stakeholders, business and property owners, and area residents in order to design a series of infrastructure improvements along Bolton Avenue. These improvements will not only aim to enhance and beautify the streetscape; they will also aim to improve safety.

“Bolton Avenue is a unique challenge,” Roy said. “We can’t simply plant a few trees or brick a couple of intersections and expect anything to change. Every decision we make on Bolton Avenue needs to begin with the question, ‘Will this make the neighborhood a safer place to call home?’ We talk a lot about smart growth, but we need to also begin investing in safe growth. My office issued an Executive Order, in 2009, with this corridor and District 1’s problems in mind.”

Since the 1970s, municipalities and law enforcement agencies have used Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) techniques to reduce crime by making targeted infrastructure investments in the built environment.

“Once Bolton Avenue is restored and once it becomes safer and more inviting, I think people will realize that it really is a great street with some beautiful, historic buildings,” said Roy. “With the right investments in infrastructure, Bolton Avenue has a lot of potential. We can no longer afford to wait. If we ignore these problems, they will only get worse, and they will cost us dearly in the future.”

SPARC Seeks to Transform N. MacArthur Drive and

Bolton Avenue

In a series of public meetings, the City of Alexandria is seeking comments that will be used to design two major infrastructure projects on NorthMacArthur Drive and Bolton Avenue.

Both projects seek to transform these corridors by enhancing streetscapes, improving vehicular and pedestrian safety, and expanding opportunities for private-sector development, according to a press release.

“This is not a master planning project,” Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy said in a prepared statement. “This is an infrastructure construction and public safety project.”

According to the Federal Department of Transportation, for every $1 million invested

in public infrastructure, there is a longterm return of $6.2 million. The short-term

benefit to the local economy, according to the chief economist at Moody’s, is

typically $2 for every $1 spent on infrastructure. Additionally, the projects will

immediately create several direct and indirect jobs, including approximately 100

construction jobs.

“Investing in infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to ensure we’re receiving

a return,” Roy said. “Without a doubt, both North MacArthur Drive and

Bolton Avenue have serious infrastructure deficiencies that need to be corrected. If we

fail to properly address these deficiencies, we are only prolonging problems of blight

and disinvestment, problems that burden all of us in Alexandria. Infrastructure

spending is almost always appropriate, but more so in downward economic times.”

North MacArthur Drive:

According to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, North

MacArthur Drive has an abnormally high accident rate and is one of the most

dangerous roadways in the region. Interviews with business owners, hotel managers,

and other property owners suggest that the safety of North MacArthur Drive is a

critical concern.

Improving the safety, the functionality, and the aesthetic of North MacArthur Drive is

of regional importance. Nearly one-third of the region’s hotel rooms and two of

Alexandria’s three convention centers are located on North MacArthur Drive.

“It’s sometimes easy to overlook, especially for those of us who live here, but North

MacArthur Drive is Alexandria’s front door,” Roy said. “It’s where most of our

guests stay overnight; it’s where most of our conventions and conferences are held;

and it’s a primary gateway into the city.”

Roy credits local economic development expert, Rhonda Reap-Curiel, with this corridor. Also, he said, the North MacArthur corridor was the actual progenitor of the SPARC Initiative.

During the last three decades, North MacArthur Drive has experienced significant

changes, most notably, the replacement of large traffic circle at the intersection of

Bolton Avenue and the construction of Interstate 49. Both of these projects, along

with the expansion and growth that occurred along Highway 28 West, have created

challenges for development.

Today, a number of properties along North MacArthur Drive are vacant, blighted, and in disrepair, another reason why the City’s SPARC Initiative identified the need for intervention and infrastructure investment.

SPARC assigned and the Alexandria City Council budgeted $5 million for this

infrastructure project, nearly 90 percent of which will be used for construction. During the next four months, a team led by architect Frederic Schwartz will extensively survey

and analyze the project area, including but not limited to traffic studies, access

management, traffic light synchronization, street lighting, drainage, traffic patterns,

and accident “hot spots.”

Schwartz and members of his team will also continue to conduct interviews with key stakeholders, business and property owners, and area residents, in an effort to ensure that the construction project is informed by and best reflects the needs of those most affected.

In addition to improving safety, Mr. Schwartz will also provide plans and construction

documents for beautification and streetscape enhancement.

The North MacArthur Drive project is expected to break ground within the next

11 months.

Bolton Avenue:

For more than a decade, the need for intervention on Bolton Avenue has been

established, including in the 1999 Alexandria Urban Master Plan and the 2003

McElroy Plan, both of which were adopted by the Alexandria City Council.

More than three decades ago, Bolton Avenue was Alexandria’s primary commercial

hub, home to numerous retail stores, professional offices, and an exceptional art deco

movie theater. It bisected a thriving, middle-class neighborhood in the center of

Alexandria. However, with the opening of the Alexandria Mall in the early 1970s,

Bolton Avenue lost many of its anchor stores, and ever since, it has been unable to

attract any significant commercial development. These conditions were exacerbated

by the construction of Interstate 49, which dramatically reduced the area’s

connectivity with Downtown and isolated an entire neighborhood.

Today, Bolton Avenue is plagued by blight, disrepair, and crime. Because of Bolton

Avenue’s central location and its importance as a transportation corridor, these

problems are highly-visible.

“Bolton Avenue is at the heart of Alexandria,” said Roy. “It is a state highway, and its problems not only affect the quality of life of those who live nearby; it affects us regionally.”

In order to address these issues, SPARC assigned and the Alexandria City Council

budgeted $2.5 million for the Bolton Avenue infrastructure project, nearly 90 percent of

which will be used for construction. The project will be led by Jeffrey Carbo, an

award-winning landscape architect who grew up less than a mile away from Bolton

Avenue.

Throughout the next four months, Carbo and his team will work with key

stakeholders, business and property owners, and area residents in order to design a

series of infrastructure improvements along Bolton Avenue. These improvements will

not only aim to enhance and beautify the streetscape; they will also aim to improve

safety.

“Bolton Avenue is a unique challenge,” Roy said. “We can’t simply plant a

few trees or brick a couple of intersections and expect anything to change. Every

decision we make on Bolton Avenue needs to begin with the question, ‘Will this make

the neighborhood a safer place to call home?’ We talk a lot about smart growth, but

we need to also begin investing in safe growth. My office issued an Executive Order,

in 2009, with this corridor and District 1’s problems in mind.”

Since the 1970s, municipalities and law enforcement agencies have used Crime

Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) techniques to reduce crime by

making targeted infrastructure investments in the built environment.

“Once Bolton Avenue is restored and once it becomes safer and more inviting, I think

people will realize that it really is a great street with some beautiful, historic

buildings,” said Roy. “With the right investments in infrastructure, Bolton

Avenue has a lot of potential. We can no longer afford to wait. If we ignore these

problems, they will only get worse, and they will cost us dearly in the future.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: