EV Cabs Put on Hold

On December 10 County Board scuttled a plan to put 40 electric powered cabs (EVs) on Arlington streets, bowing to pressure from cab drivers who packed the County Board hearing room with gags in their mouths to signal their opposition both to the EVs and to Board Chair Mary Hynes’ decision to cut off public comment. As an inducement to approve the project EV Taxicabs had promised to install dozens of electric recharging stations around the county that would be available to the public free of charge. At first blush, EV taxis looked like a win-win for both Arlington residents and the environment. However, the Arlington Transportation Commission vetoed the project over concern whether the cabs could provide reliable service to/from Dulles Airport. Continue reading

Thomas Building Purchase, an Example of Throwing Money at a Problem

Opponents of the County’s decision to purchase the Thomas Building in the Courthouse section of Arlington, have been portrayed as nimbies or worse—classists who spurn the presence of homeless people in their midst. It’s true that the immediate vicinity of 2020 14th Street is a well-to-do neighborhood. Luxury apartments and condos like the Palatine, Meridian, Woodbury Heights and the Odyssey surround the acquisition, making the placement of a homeless center there incongruous from a purely financial standpoint. If the real estate in this part of the county is valuable enough to warrant rents starting at $2,000 a month, then why is the County forcing the owner to sell? Why isn’t it encouraging the owner to redevelop the property in line with the rest of the neighborhood?
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A Streetcar Named BRT

I’m sure County Board members are squriming over the report recently released by transportation consultant and Democratic Party leader Peter Rousselot which recommends BRT (bus rapid transit) for Columbia Pike instead of the trolley. According to Rousselot, the bus alternative actually performs about as well as the trolley on a number of key criteria but costs far less, $53 million for the bus v. $250 million for the trolley. Continue reading

I-66 Spot Improvement Project: Arlington’s Bridge To Nowhere

Last Friday at around 3:30 p.m. I was biking on a pedestrian bridge over I-66 and noticed traffic backed up all the way from Fairfax Drive to the Sycamore Street exit. So what else is new, you ask? Well, the fact that a little more than a year ago, VDOT spent about $15 million dollars of taxpayer money earmarked by Congressman Frank Wolf to construct an extended merge lane to alleviate congestion between Fairfax Drive and Sycamore Street. Continue reading

Bond Referenda Are Ultimatums

One of the key questions before the voters on November 6 is whether to approve four bond referenda that will fund transportation, parks and recreation, community infrastructure and the public schools. The Sun Gazette reports that 70% of Arlington County bond issues are approved. But the fact that the voters are uncritical of bond referenda doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be. Continue reading

Road Rage Against Arlington Transit Buffs

In a recent blog, WP columnist Steve Pearlstein attacked as nazis, zealots and nimbys Arlington activists who opposed recent road widening projects inside the county. He’s outraged that Arlington forced VDOT to abandon its plans to widen I-395 absent an environmental assessment of the project. Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth replied: Continue reading

“Smart Growth” A Euphemism for Gentrification

The Coalition for Smarter Growth supports the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, adopted by County Board on July 23, claiming that it will save 4,500 affordable housing units. What the Coalition doesn’t tell you is that there are currently 7,300 affordable units on the Pike right now. So implementation of the plan will mean the loss of about 2,800 affordable units right off the bat. Continue reading

Swimmers Drown Out Opposition to Aquatic Center

Swimmers drowned out opposition to the Long Bridge Park Aquatic and Fitness Center at the County’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) hearing on June 26. At least a dozen athletes, instructors and disabled persons claimed they need the benefits of a new Olympic size pool, that current county facilities are inadequate, and that the heated pool at Yorktown is too hot for people with MS.

The only ones testifying against the facility, which will cost taxpayers $50 million next year alone, were the usual suspects–Jim Hurysz, Bob Atkins, Matt Wavro, Wayne Kubicki and Yours Truly. Continue reading

The Folly of the Columbia Pike Trolley

There are three problems with the Columbia Pike Trolley: 1) excessive cost; 2) increased congestion due to the narrowness of the roadway; 3) the elimination of affordable housing along the Pike due to the escalation of property values from trolley induced development.

Supporters of the Trolley acknowledge that a bus rapid transit system serving the same number of passengers, could be built for $50 million, but they nevertheless favor the Trolley at five times the cost. While developers will benefit from a Trolley, Arlington taxpayers will be stuck with the $250 million bill. Continue reading