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

Fukushima Not Catastrophic Says Washington Post

In an April 23 editorial, the Washington Post trotted out several myths to support its argument that nuclear is preferable to renewable energy. Among them was the notion that nuclear is the only reliable source of low carbon emissions energy. WP reported Germany has been forced to import fossil fuel generated electricity after shutting down 8 nuclear power plants. Yet the anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear reports that Germany is a net energy exporter that reduced its carbon emissions 2.1 percent in 2011. Continue reading

On the Need to Play Hardball With Richmond

Recently the Sun Gazette reported that the state legislature is going to eliminate $100,000 in county road maintenance funds to cover legal fees to defend former state Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer in connection with the I-395 HOT lanes project that Arlington County Board sued to stop in 2010. This move reflects a bipartisan consensus in Richmond that County Board was wrong to sue Homer and other transportation officials in an individual rather than official capacity, thus making them personally liable. Continue reading