The Foreordained Street Car Decision
Yesterday in an online Arlington Sun Gazette story, Scott McCaffrey reminds Arlington taxpayers that "2 weeks remain" until the Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on the $1/4-billion Columbia Pike streetcar system. Here's the remainder of the lede by Mr. McCaffrey:
"Board members are slated to vote on designating the streetcar system the “preferred alternative” for the Columbia Pike corridor during what could become a marathon board meeting stretching over multiple days.
"While the vote largely is pro-forma – few expect the board to reject the streetcar as the board’s preference over bus service – it is a necessary step before submitting an application for federal funds.
"After the vote, officials will fill out the paperwork and wait to see if the Federal Transit Administration OKs funding of up to $75 million for the project, which could be operational in 2016 or 2017."
ACTA's president was asked whether approval by the County Board was essentially a "slam-dunk" or whether there was a possibility the board won't move forward with the streetcar plan when they vote on July 21. His response, as quoted by McCaffrey:
"Tim Wise, president of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association and an opponent of the rail line, said he expects no surprises when elected officials vote.
“If the board was sincere about a sustainable alternative, they would choose the lower-cost option involving buses,” Wise said. “[But] the five masterminds on the County Board have visions of grandeur dancing in their heads of transforming Columbia Pike into a vibrant, walkable, urban ‘Main Street.’ When you’re drunk on such visions, why would you choose the more economical alternative?”
If there was any doubt on whether the outcome is foreordained, a story by Mr. McCaffrey in the online Sun Gazette today provides the answer. It begins this way:
"Members of the Arlington Transportation Commission on July 5 voted 10-0 to support the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar initiative." (emphasis added)
If you would like to learn more about the timing of various events that got us to this point, here is the May 22, 2012 press release. Information, both summary and detailed, about the Columbia Pike Transit Initiative is available at the county website. One especially useful summary is the 8-page executive summary for the alternativess analysis/environment assessment (requires Adobed).