Home Transportation Arlingtonians Come Out to Support Streetcar

Arlingtonians Come Out to Support Streetcar

315
6
SHARE

DSC00047The following press release is from Arlington Streetcar Now. I’ll have more later, but for now I’ll just say that the County Board and staff thoroughly, patiently, and comprehensively answered every question about whether or not to build a streetcar, and overwhelmingly confirmed my view that this is not just the best way to go, but the only serious way to go. Let’s build this thing already!

Arlington, VA – Supporters of the long-planned Arlington street car project came out in force tonight at a town hall meeting held to inform the public about the proposed streetcar system that would link Fairfax County and Alexandra through Columbia Pike and Crystal City. County staff presented information about the project, dispelled myths, and answered questions from citizens.

“Arlingtonians strongly support moving forward with the streetcar which neighborhoods and businesses have been working to bring about for a decade.” said John Snyder, president of Arlington Streetcar Now, a grassroots organization of Arlington residents and business leaders who support the streetcar as part of the revitalization of Columbia Pike and Crystal City.  “The streetcar represents a next-generation transit solution that will increase capacity, improve ridership, and spark new investment that will enhance and revitalize our community.”

Lots more on the “flip,” including some photos.

“Arlingtonians acknowledge the foresight of those who supported Metro over the naysayers, and know that this generation has a similar choice to make.”  Snyder said, noting that Arlington’s investment in Metrorail is widely regarded as a principal reason that propelled Arlington from being a community in economic decline in the 1970s to one of the most desirable locations in the region to live and work in 2013. “Tonight Arlingtonians demonstrated that they know the streetcar is an extraordinary opportunity to support an transportation investment in our future that will pay dividends for South Arlington neighborhoods and the well being of the county as a whole.”

The forum addressed many questions about the streetcar plan, including why bus-rapid transit options were considered and rejected as infeasible, how streetcars operate well in mixed traffic, the role of the streetcar in the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan and affordable housing preservation, and the potential economic benefits of the streetcar over bus options alone.  In addition to Arlington Streetcar Now, the project is supported by the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, many current and former elected officials, and civic and business leaders.  

Arlington Streetcar Now can be found at www.streetcarnow.org and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth table, with Executive Director Stewart Schwartz on the left.

DSC00028

Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes and others chatting before the forum.

DSC00035

Information on the streetcar system, as well as the long and involved process that led to the (correct) decision in favor of going the streetcar route.

DSC00032

DSC00027

DSC00030

DSC00031

A photo of the crowd, which got larger and mostly filled the auditorium at Kenmore Middle School at its peak.

DSC00039

Not all the streetcar opponents are Tea Partiers, but they certainly seemed to make up a significant contingent on that side tonight.

DSC00062

  • Jason

    The County Board and transportation staff did a great job answering tough questions.  And answer them they did.  People came with their minds made up and didn’t want to hear the answers.  But every question and charge had a good answer.  The streetcar project has been well-thought out, well-researched, well-vetted in the community over a decade of meetings and public processes and is good for Arlington.  I’m looking forward to it.  

  • …sorry about the low quality of this image, but you can click on it to “embiggen” and see it pretty well. In short, the Columbia Pike streetcar ($250 million) is not particularly expensive compared to other regional transportation projects, like the Purple Line ($2.2 billion), Springfield interchange ($676 million), Potomac Yard Metro station ($496 million), K Street Busway ($140 million).

    I’d add in the Metro to Dulles project, which is costing $6.8 BILLION for 28 miles. That works out to $243 million a mile. In other words, the Columbia Pike streetcar costs one fifth as much as the Silver Line per mile, and it’s in a dense, urban area, as opposed to a more exurban area with a highway right-of-way (TOTALLY apples to oranges here). Having said that, as the Arlington County experts pointed out last night, investment in high-quality transportation – road, rail, whatever – ain’t cheap. However, when one considers the big economic (and tax revenues) boost Arlington County will get from the streetcar, and given the fact that interest rates (e.g., borrowing costs) are at historic lows, this thing is an incredible bargain, something I wish we had built years ago!