More Than a South Arlington Issue
In a recent debate among the three candidates for the Arlington County Board, ARLnow.com reported that "in a neighborhood that has plenty of concerns about traffic, development, aircraft noise and other issues, the main topic of the debate was the Columbia Pike streetcar. The streetcar so dominated the first half of the debate that the moderator had to eventually ask the audience to refrain from asking about it."
It resulted in ARLnow writing, "It’s ironic, then, that the candidates all essentially agreed with one another." Here are what seem to be ARLnow's take on the three candidates positions on the proposed Columbia Pike trolley:
Libby T. Garvey (D)
“We need sensible transit,” said Garvey, in her opening remarks. “I have been working deliberately to gather more information about the proposed streetcar and the more I look at it the more convinced I am that what we need is a bus rapid transit system, or BRT. That is by far the best solution for us at this point.”
Matthew A. Wavro (R)
"Wavro also advocated for enhanced bus service along Columbia Pike instead of the streetcar, but he blasted Garvey for abstaining during a vote on the streetcar in July.
“We’ve had studies, more studies, then more studies on the Columbia Pike trolley,” he said. “With that amount of information out there, [Garvey] should be able to make a decision against the trolley.”
Audrey R. Clement (G)
"Clement echoed Wavro’s criticism.
“Board members are elected to take stands on controversial issues, not back away from them,” she said, adding that the streetcar will absorb tax dollars that could be used for capital improvements to Arlington’s existing transportation network and service enhancements like expanded weekend ART bus service."
In other positions, both Wavro and Clement "proposed the hiring of an independent inspector general to audit and analyze the county’s budget" while Garvey "promised a degree of fiscal responsibility."
ARLnow also reported, "There was disagreement over whether the Pike streetcar is a decision that can be reversed or not. Wavro argued that a lone board member would and should not be able to reverse the community process that led to the streetcar vote this summer. Garvey said the board only approved a “transit system” and that the “vehicle” for that system is a decision that will be made “down the line.”
Read the entire ARLnow report. It may cause you to attend a debate sponsored by your local civic association. By the way, the deadline for voter registration is Monday, October 15, 2012, according to the website of Arlington's Office of Voter Registration.
Update (10/14/12): Today's Washington Exameriner reports that streetcars are dominating the Arlington County Board race. Here's the meat of the article:
"Democratic incumbent Libby Garvey, elected to the board in March, joined the campaign debate over the proposed $249 million streetcar project along Columbia Pike, saying she now opposes the project and believes the planned streetcars should be replaced by buses.
"Garvey's challengers, Republican Matt Wavro and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, who announced their opposition to the costly streetcar plan earlier, chided Garvey for failing to take a stand on the issue when it would have counted most -- when the county board voted in July to approve the project. Garvey abstained during that vote, saying it was a "very complex" issue that required greater study.
"I'm glad that after seven months of consideration, Ms. Garvey has come to a conclusion," said Wavro. Garvey was elected to the board seven months ago.
"All three of the candidates now support replacing the planned streetcars with buses that would that would run from Pentagon City to the Skyline area of Fairfax . . . ."
UPDATE (10/15/12): Steve Thurston of the Arlington Mercury reported on the candidates debate on Thursday, writing, "They all agreed that the proposed streetcar along Columbia Pike is not the answer for that area," but "differed on what they would do instead of the rails-in-the-road system."