Home Transportation Video: Arlington County Approves Columbia Pike Streetcar Project Agreement

Video: Arlington County Approves Columbia Pike Streetcar Project Agreement


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The speakers begin at around 2:05 into the video and conclude around 2:54:30. There’s some seriously bizarre (not to mention false) stuff in there, particularly starting at around 2:11 (“FRAUD!” “CO-CONSPIRATORS!”). My god. As for the supposed “alternative” of “Bus Rapid Transit,” I’m not even sure why this keeps coming up, as it’s impossible to have BRT on Columbia Pike, given the lack of a dedicated right of way. It’s the nonsensical talking point that won’t die, apparently.

At around 3:26, there’s a presentation on the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project Agreement, including the County Manager’s recommendation to approve and execute it, as well as the authority to receive reimbursement payments from Fairfax County, the governance structure of the partnership between Arlington and Fairfax counties, etc.

Starting at 3:37, the board members discuss the streetcar and specifically the governance agreement which “advances the technical planning, environmental and conceptual design work for the Columbia Pike streetcar” project. Board Chair Walter Tejada emphasizes that this is NOT a vote on the streetcar project per se; those votes, he points out, have already been taken by both the Arlington County and Fairfax County boards in 2006 and again in 2012. Tejada also point out that both counties continue to be committed to the project.

At 3:39:40, Board Member Libby Garvey moves to defer a vote on the Project Agreement, but this motion receives no seconds and dies, accordingly. Garvey then offers her reasons for opposing the project, most of which have been articulated previously (as have the arguments in favor). Garvey states that this is “not the Arlington I know” or “the board I know,” urges that the board “take a deep breath and pause,” and that it get an independent cost-benefit analysis that can be shared with the public before it moves ahead on the project.

For Arlington County Board members Walter Tejada’s and Chris Zimmerman’s responses, see the “flip”

Walter Tejada says he “respectfully disagree[s] with many of the points” Garvey just made, notes yet again that this project has been “long in the making,” extensively and exhaustively discussed by the community. Tejada adds that this will be a “terrific asset” for the southern part of Arlington, and that “we’ve been through this conversation many times before…so there’s no reason to rehash all of these subjects again.”

Chris Zimmerman says that this vote is simply a “routine matter” to carry out a policy that’s already been established, even if some people want to “re-argue” it every time it comes up. Zimmerman concludes (and it’s well worth quoting, in my opinion):

This is something that people have spent a lot of time and process on….Just saying we didn’t have a full discussion doesn’t make it true…Just saying the cost-benefit analysis hasn’t been done doesn’t make it true; I suspect if we did another one and they still didn’t like the result, they’d still be saying we hadn’t done one. Just saying that we don’t know where the money’s coming from doesn’t make it true. We actually in fact have a more specific plan to fund this –  more well established on the basis of the transportation funds we know we’re going to have – than I’ve seen in many of the projects going forward. Certainly, if this approach were taken, the Dulles rail project that’s being constructed right now would not have ever gone forward, it would have been derailed…and in fact people tried that.

The board then votes 4-1 to approve the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project agreement.


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