Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette talks about how much Arlington’s long-term commitment to transit and smart-growth development policies has done to make Arlington a great place to live. According to Fisette, “Everything we do should be judged on how it advances our goal of building a community that will sustain itself for generations to come.”
The keys to Arlington’s success: having a vision and long-term planning; citizen engagement/the “Arlington Way” (working “towards a consensus view,” not “unanimity”); innovation and partnerships (expanding Arlington as “the hub of the innovation economy”); a commitment to action and strategic investment (“we respect our community process and plans, we make strategic investment base don those plans, we do what we say we’re going to do”).
As for the Columbia Pike streetcar project, it’s “Arlington’s next strategic investment” to create a “walkable Main Street along Columbia Pike,” “that is the vision that the community crafted…and a modern streetcar system is essential to achieving it.” “No possible bus-only system can handle [the] ridership growth” anticipated on this corridor. The streetcar will also attract “over 3 times the new private investment in this corridor than an enhanced bus system could” (e.g., $3-$4.4 billion in new real estate value generated by the streetcar). This is comparable to Arlington’s decision to run the Metro underground, and will help fund our schools and other services around Arlington. What about funding? 93% will be federal, state and regional money, leveraged by a 12 1/2-cent local commercial property tax that can only be used for new transportation projects. “Let me be clear…I am committed to the streetcar, but not at any cost…only if it does not require Arlington homeowners to take on bond debt to pay for it.”