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Thoughts on Pat Herrity’s Tirade Against Arlington County


In today’s “All Opinions Are Local” column in the Kaplan Post, Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity lets out all his frustrations at Arlington County. Here’s a sampling, followed by a few thoughts by yours truly.

For more than a decade, the members of the Arlington County Board have thumbed their noses at every motorist sitting in traffic on our region’s congested highways. Harsh words, yes. But given the board’s gutter-style tactics to block and delay critical transportation improvements, it’s time to get real. The Arlington board is a major roadblock to improving transportation in Northern Virginia and our region.

The Arlington board’s shenanigans to stop the Interstate 95/Interstate 395 high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes project, a major transit and highway improvement to one of the most congested interstates in Virginia, have been particularly shameless. The board has attacked cabinet members of Republican and Democratic administrations for trying to deliver more travel choices. It even resorted to claims of racism and sued a federal worker for personal damages – a dangerous precedent for all our federal, state and local government workers just doing their jobs. And because of Arlington’s actions, the commonwealth is pulling the plug on the HOT lanes project inside the Beltway.

By delaying major improvements on the I-66 and I-395/I-95 corridors, the board’s bunker mentality has contributed to the region’s top ranking as the worst congested metro area in the country.

A few points here. First off, Herrity demonstrates no apparent understanding of the root causes of Northern Virginia’s traffic gridlock. Let me list a few: sprawl, sprawl, lack of funding for transit, lack of funding for roads, sprawl, anti-smart-growth policies such as Fairfax failing to focus development around Metro stops (as Arlington wisely did), oh and did I mention sprawl?  

Second, Herrity attacks one of the few jurisdictions in NOVA that actually got it right when it comes to transportation, with the result that Arlington County today is one of the most livable, walkable, and least congested places of its size in America, let alone in Virginia.

Third, Herrity’s absurd argument is basically that Arlington should suffer because of the foolish, misguided, short-sighted policies that exurban counties – and the state government – have adopted over the years, and that have encouraged both sprawl and gridlock. Now, Herrity’s answer is to pave over – and punish – Arlington County, where we’ve actually succeeded in creating attractive high-density, transit-friendly, smart growth development?

Fourth, that’s bad enough, but then Herrity attacks Arlington for having the audacity to –  are you sitting down here? – defend itself from this assault? Yeah, the gall of Arlington County, can you imagine such a thing?

Finally, with regard to Herrity’s desired “traffic relief,” perhaps he should start by looking in the mirror at his own county’s policies, how they’ve encouraged sprawl and gridlock, and what his role has been in causing that situation to come about. Of course, it’s always much easier to look for scapegoats, especially if you’re an ambitious – but not particularly successful at achieving that ambition – politicians, carrying on the family tradition of being politicians, yet with no apparent upward mobility. No wonder why Pat’s frustrated, and no wonder why he’s lashing out. I just hope Arlington County gives him all the consideration his uninformed, over-the-top tirade deserves. That would be NONE.


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