Category: Transportation

NVTA’s Funding Formula Is Biased

Comments at Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) Meeting, May 10, 2018.

Although I’m a member of the Arlington County Transportation Commission, I am speaking only on my own behalf.

NVTA ranked 60 projects as a preliminary to awarding more than $1.2 billion under the FY 2018-2023 Six Year Program (SYP). NVTA ranked five Arlington projects as follows:

  • 1 Transportation Demand Management (TDM) project;
  • 2 Metrorail station improvement projects–one at Ballston and the other at Crystal City;
  • 2 bus system improvement projects–one to extend the Crystal City Transitway to Pentagon City and the other to construct improved ART bus facilities.

Of those five projects, the only one with a high CRRC (congestion reduction relative to cost) rank was the TDM project. All the others scored low—extremely low. In fact ART bus facility improvements ranked 56 out of 60, even though ART bus is one of only two regional bus services to realize an increase in ridership in 2017. Improvements to the Crystal City Metrorail Station scored 58 out of 60 even though it is seen as necessary to service a projected major increase in VRE ridership offloading at Crystal City. (more…)

Traffic Impacts? What Traffic Impacts?

Remarks for Arlington County Board meeting on April 21, 2018.

Although I’m a member of the Arlington Transportation Commission, I’m speaking on my own behalf, and my opinion does not reflect that of the Commission on the matter at hand.

I applaud Wesley Housing Development Corporation’s ambitious plan to put in affordable housing at Route 50 near George Mason Drive. But analysis of the traffic impact analysis (TIA) prepared by Wells + Associates belies its claim that the traffic impacts of the project will be negligible. (more…)

Metro Should Be Accountable For Poor Emergency Management

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on April 21, 2018.

Although I’m a member of the Arlington Transportation Commission, I am speaking only on my own behalf.

DC Metro’s new slogan is “Back2Good”, but if its recent performance is an indication, Metro is “Back2Bad But Good”. On December 28, three eastbound trains offloaded at Ballston, reversed course and head back the way they came. By the time another inbound train arrived, the platform was packed, leaving one wheelchair bound patron to negotiate his way down the platform just six inches from the edge. (more…)

VRE Crystal City Rail Station Needs More Study

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on 9/19/2017.

The fact that VRE is planning a new rail station for Crystal City points to the success of its rail operations in Northern Virginia. The fact that it has actively solicited input from VRE rail riders demonstrates its commitment to serving them. Unfortunately VRE’s consensus building efforts have excluded residents of Crystal City, who challenge VRE’s claims that construction of Option 2 will have no significant noise or pollution impacts. (more…)

NVTA TransAction Meeting: A Pro Forma Exercise

Comments at Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Meeting on July 13, 2017.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) has issued a call for public comment on TransAction, a draft list of transportation projects to be funded in Northern Virginia for the next six years.

With both population and employment in Northern Virginia expected to increase dramatically between now and 2040, NVTA has certainly made the case for substantial increases in the region’s investment in transportation infrastructure. I am nevertheless concerned about NVTA’s lack of transparency. (more…)

PRESS RELEASE: Metro Responds to Climate March By Shutting Down Stations

May 1, 2017

On April 29 tens of thousands of people from all over the U.S. converged on Washington, DC, to protest the Trump Administration’s climate change denial policy. By all accounts the event was a success. While slogans denouncing Trump were everywhere, the defiant crowd never got out of hand, testimony to the professionalism of both the organizers and the DC police.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Metro, which actually stopped trains from running between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle. If the purpose of the service disruption was to prevent protesters from overcrowding the stations, the solution would have been to simply run trains past the stations, not stop running them through the stations.

As it was, thousands of protesters, tourists and Nationals baseball fans were unnecessarily inconvenienced. One wheel chair bound marcher told me he was forced to change trains three times to get to his car parked in Vienna. Not only that but Metro ran trains on a regular Saturday schedule fifteen or twenty minutes apart, even though the stations that remained open were deluged with commuters.

I learned from a DC sports fan that Metro categorically refuses to add trains or extend hours to accommodate major sports events.This is the same Metro that has jacked up fares and announced plans to cut service on dozens of bus lines, even ones that meet its own performance metrics. No wonder Metro has a cash flow problem. Hiking fares while decreasing service and turning a deaf ear to paying customers does not promote ridership. It cripples it.

There’s a plan afloat to provide Metro with a dedicated funding stream by imposing a one percent regional sales tax to pay for its operations. It’s time for elected officials to stop throwing money at Metro and insist that it operate like a regional transit provider instead of a bus shuttle service. Metro should get dedicated funding ONLY if it agrees to extend train service as needed for major sports and other high attendance events.

Metro safety includes more than repairing infrastructure. It means getting commuters to/from their destinations with a minimum of service disruption and platform overcrowding. If elected to County Board, you can be sure I will insist on that. If elected, I also pledge to:

  • seek ongoing tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers

Stratford Middle School Driveway Promotes a “More Car Diet”

Comments at County Board Meeting on March 18, 2017.

One of the principal features of the Stratford MS site plan is the driveway that cuts through a tree lined hill between Vacation Lane and Old Dominion Drive. This feature was approved by County Board Board in 2016 on the recommendation of past Chair Libby Garvey—then running for reelection–who declared herself a leader for rejecting the advice of all relevant County commissions against the driveway and siding with parents who wanted it.

While pandering to the majority might have made political sense in 2016, it was by no means prudent either from an environmental or safety standpoint. First, destruction of trees at Stratford MS, as with all other recent County school construction sites, will aggravate runoff and generate more carbon pollution. Second, the extended driveway will induce more traffic in the neighborhood, which will jeopardize the safety of those children who do walk to school.

Third, it directly contradicts the County’s car free diet policy expressed in a resolution adopted by the Board in 2014 stipulating that “Arlington County promotes the Car-Free Diet to encourage residents to try a car-free lifestyle to save money, improve health and clean the environment.”

It’s clear that Arlington Public Schools is in violation of the car free diet policy, since every single school expansion undertaken since its adoption has resulted in the destruction of greenspace for more parking. It’s obvious that the County itself is violating this policy, since every major development it approved in recent years has been accompanied by massive parking facilities.

Since the majority of Arlington residents won’t walk, bike, bus or Metro to work, the More Car Diet that Arlington enables makes more political sense anyhow. If reelection is what you’re after, then stop equivocating. Tout the More Car Diet that you are enabling. Those who like to park on the Beltway will vote for you, and those who take Metro to work and school will appreciate your honesty more than the doublespeak to which they are constantly subjected.

Restriping Washington Boulevard Might Induce More Crashes

Comments at Arlington County Board Meeting on March 18, 2016.

Arlington County Transportation Division plans to ask VDOT to restripe Washington Blvd. between EFC and Westover as part of a repaving project.

Program Manager David Goodman described the project and conducted a Q&A at a March 1 meeting he hosted at Westover Library. In response to a subsequent email soliciting public comment, I sent Goodman the following questions, which I want to share with you. (more…)

Widening I-66 Eastbound Inside the Beltway: Is it Really Needed?

Comments at December 5, 2016 VDOT Public Hearing on Environmental Assessment (EA) for Widening Eastbound I-66 Inside the Beltway.

The fact that Arlington residents have an opportunity to comment tonight on the environmental assessment for widening I-66 eastbound is a step in the right direction. When VDOT widened the same stretch of I-66 westbound in 2010, there was no EA public hearing, because there was no EA. (more…)

PRESS RELEASE: I-395 HOT Lanes Extension: An Accident Waiting to Happen

The I-395 Express Lanes North Extension Environmental Assessment (EA) lists roadway safety as one of four principal objectives in extending I-395 toll lanes north to Eads Street (p. 6). It cites the fact that over half of all roadway crashes occur during peak travel periods to demonstrate that congestion not only increases travel time, it also jeopardizes traffic safety (p.14). 

VDOT’s concern with roadway safety is well placed. However, it is by no means clear that HOT lanes will enhance travel safety even if they reduce congestion, since the Build Alternative all but eliminates the western shoulder of the express lane corridor by reducing it from 10 feet to 2. (more…)

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