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Streetcar Forum Lacked Fireworks But Revealed Substance

by Barry Skidmore November 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm 8,410 98 Comments

About 150 people crammed into Walter Reed Community Center last night to discuss the current state of planning for the Columbia Pike streetcar project.

Planners revealed that the streetcar line is expect to go into service in 2016 and is expected to cost $160 million to build. Of that, Arlington will pay $135 million and Fairfax County will pay $25 million, according to planners. However, county staff warned those cost estimates will change as further planning is done. The Pike Transit Initiative, as the project is called, is also seeking funding from the Federal Transit Administration, which could cover part of the cost of construction.

The streetcar would travel east from Skyline/Bailey’s Crossroads, down Columbia Pike, past the Air Force Memorial to end at South Eads Street. The plan also calls for one of two extensions to be built, either to the NOVA Community College campus near Skyline or to Long Bridge Park, near the Pentagon, to accommodate a streetcar storage and maintenance shed.

The public forum was expected to be contentious, as a number of streetcar critics had announced in advance they would attend. There were no fireworks or shouting matches, but during a question and answer session a few people did pelt planners with questions about the value of having a streetcar line at all.

Steven Del Giudice, head of transit operations and planning for Arlington County, suggested that there were other means for critics to express their dissent and that this meeting was “not the forum” to discuss the value of having streetcars on the Pike.

“Reasonable people can disagree,” said Del Giudice after the meeting, shrugging off the criticism.

Streetcar skeptic and Pike resident John Antonelli said he was concerned about the project’s cost, which some critics believe could reach past $300 million (Del Giudice disputed this, saying a quoted $336 million figure included 30 years of operating costs).

Antonelli argued the streetcar won’t save much money on existing bus service (Del Giudice says it will likely eliminate two to three bus lines), and noted that service could easily be disrupted by road repairs, a traffic accident, or a stalled car. He called the forum “a typical Kabuki theatre Arlington meeting.”

“The impression I got was ‘thank you for you comments, we will now do what we want to do,'” Antonelli said.

Still, most of the audience seemed supportive of the project. During the break-out session, attendees huddled over maps of the Pike with streetcar project staff to suggest station placements and other ideas and modifications of the plan.

The next phase of the project will be an environmental assessment of the line and all of its proposed options.

In order to comply with federal law when completing the assessment, the county will look at alternative options for each section of the proposed streetcar line. The options are: “do nothing,” which would leave the Pike essentially in the condition it’s in today; “low cost,” which would incorporate significant improvements to the bus lines going through the Pike; and the full “streetcar option.” The county expects to have the assessment done by spring 2011.

The author runs the People-Powered Arlington blog. Rendering via Pike Transit Initiative.

  • SoArlRes

    It was informative.

  • Jared

    How about they just spend the $100 million bribing yuppies to get over themselves and take the damn bus?

    • Lou

      Sounds like a plan to me.

    • ziv

      You have missed the point entirely. Most people simply will not ride a bus. Won’t.
      But if you put steel wheels on a bus they get all teary eyed about their last trip to Europe and go out of their way to use it. People love streetcars/trams/trolleys, and that love will transform the Pike. They have been built all over and they seem to work well elsewhere.
      Bring the streetcars and the businesses will flourish and the people will come.

      • John Antonelli

        Actually when you talk to them they will ride neither. That si the problem the cars are not going away, either because it doesn’t go where you want to go or becaasw it won’t go there fast enough.

        • JIm

          that’s not true John — i wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus… but i have no problem riding the trolley. it’ll be a great option.

          • Doug

            If you don’t mind me asking – but why wouldn’t you ride the bus?

            I’ve been riding it for 9+ years; it’s not perfect but it saves me $$$ and I don’t have to find a parking place at work.

          • charlie

            good question. Why wouldn’t you be “caught dead” riding the bus? If a trolley is put in place, the buses will be removed and the “same people” will be on the bus. Similarly, the trolley will have windows that open; seats that will be comfortable, etc.
            I ride ART, DASH, METRO on a regular basis. Never had a problem or discomfort.
            And my image hasn’t been tarnished at all.
            So why would you not ride a bus? And how will a trolley be different?

  • KalashniKEV

    Is this supposed to take the poor people on the Pike to hang out with their friends in Bailey’s, or is it supposed to bring poor people from Bailey’s closer to us?

    And why would you “eliminate 2-3 bus lines” with something that’s much slower, requires years of headaches to build, and costs 10x as much as a bus?

    Is this some “Green” Initiative? Honestly, a fleet of horse drawn carriages would be a faster, more flexible, more cost effective way to move people.

    • JamesE

      Bailey’s is for poor people? Damn and I thought I had a decent job.

  • dpan

    At the risk of waging an ad hominem attack…

    [Deleted. Please avoid ad hominem attacks. We grudgingly tolerate it for elected officials, but not for private individuals, even if they’re quoted. -ed.]

    A legitimate debate surrounding this is the issue of funding it with debt while the economy is sluggish. Antonelli’s take? Throw a figure around that’s double the estimate. Question the value of the project in its entirety, in an abstract sense. Please.

    • Burger

      Let’s place a tiny bet on what the overall cost will be when the project is done.

      I’m going to guess that his 300 million figure is closer to the mark than the County’s estimate and, in fact, I bet he is low, too.

      this has “Big Dig” boondoggle written all over it.

      • Lou

        Yeah, and it’s pretty disingenuous of the county guy to squash someone’s representation of costs when they themselves will not provide a full cost number. They acknowledge the price will creep up as they reveal more and more of the project, but they refuse to go on record about the final costs. They’re sitting on the numbers because there really could be a sticker shock factor.

        I’d like to know if the $160 million number includes the maintenance facility at either end of the line, for example. That does not sound like an optional component, so I would hope its cost is in the budget right now.

        • John Snyder

          What is disingenuous is describing the county’s action–updating the cost estimate based on a more detailed design–as somehow hiding information. The cost estimate on a detailed design is not done because the detailed design is not done–that is the process now under way. The “estimate” to which the speaker responded was deliberately misleading, describing operating costs for 30 years as part of the costs of construction. The $336M construction cost estimate is phony. The report they cite is not being misleading, the anti-Pike bloggers are by misrepresenting it.

          • John Antonelli

            John what is disingenuous is for the County to give a low figure and say it might go up when they know damn well it will.

          • John Antonelli

            Its as disingenuous as a community leader using his position to sell his community to the developers at its detriment.

    • dpan

      My apologies for crossing the ad hominem line. Simply trying to provide a little context for the shenanigans of one wily individual, especially for the Arlingtonians who live north of 50. Keep up the good work.

    • John Antonelli

      I actually have a County document with a higher figure, I used a lower version to be fair. The County says 14o M for the Trolley 70 for the street scape necessary for the trolley. CPRO says 175 for the trolley no mention of street scape. COG says 335M no mention of the street scape. So pick your poison but do you really believe they can build it for 210 M? I’d say 335 M is high but closer than not and REMEMBER this is only the part of the project. The part to Alexandria is still not costed out.

      So then comes the big question can these scarce transit dollars be used in a better way like say increasing the capacity in Rosslyn

  • G

    Went to the meeting last night. Every time someone criticized the plan, maybe 3 other people clapped. When some praised the plan, the whole room cheered. The street car will increase ridership, pure and simple. People will be more willing to take public transit, just like in the B-R corridor and the blue/yellow lines in Arlington. Columbia Pike, and area South Arlington residents have been subsidizing these metro lines (that we don’t use nearly as much) for a long time. I welcome the development a street car system will bring to the area… even if it’s not entirely necessary from a strictly transit point of view. All the critics at the meeting last night complain now, but I bet they won’t be complaining later when the value of their house or condo goes up.

    To those who think a street car is no better than a bus: Though more expensive, street cars are a lot cheaper to maintain, and last up to over 10 times as long as a bus.

    • KalashniKEV

      Yes, and they will tear up the street for years, crate additional traffic nightmares daily, and can be stopped dead in their tracks simply by the first delivery truck that double parks- dumb, dumb, dumb… I wasn’t kidding when I said a horse drawn carriage provided a more flexible transportation option.

      • John Antonelli

        Kev you are so right. It is why Boston got the trolleys out of the street. Trolleys and cars don’t mix and I don’t care how cool your transit system, if it is not reliable, it is worthless.

    • Piker

      I think the only reason there was so much clapping for the trolley was that the “deck was stacked” with County employees and FBC trolley nuts. Oh and Walter Tejeda was representing the Board standing in the back of the room.

      • John Antonelli

        B I N G O

        They may build this, it seems the only thing that ever stops them in Arlington is money and with a compliant electorate and a County Board who does not fear them money is no object. So when it becomes a mess like it will (like 10 feet travel lanes) I will at least have I told you so rights.

    • terri

      i was at the meeting, am opposed to the streetcar and did not clap or hooray at all. that does not mean i am a supporter of the streetcar. it also does not mean that most in attendence were in favor of the streetcar. you claim an inaccurate method of measuring support.

  • abc

    If it is anything like the streetcar thing in Seattle, which it looks like from the picsI am all for it. Fast, efficient, clean.
    But I hope they don’t hire the same boneheads who are working on the street at the Pike and South Barton. Does anyone know what they are doing at an insanely slow and bumpy pace? It seems like they have progressed 20 feet in over a month.

    • Frenchy B

      abc, the work at Barton and Columbia is taking a long time because the contractors have to close up their excavations every day so that all traffic lanes can reopen (hence all the steel plates). I don’t think they’re allowed to start work in the morning until 9am, and they have the lanes reopened for the afternoon rush hour.

  • Mike

    This streetcar proposal is brilliant. Lets encourage redeveopment in one of the few remaining areas with affordable housing so that stock of affordable housing will go away. Then the all democrat board will have another excuse to waste more of our tax dollars to subsidize more affordable housing. The buses are cheaper and already in place!

    • G

      If you want an affordable place there, buy now, or in the years before construction of the project is complete. I got my condo in the area for under $150k, with many selling around or even under $100k. I’m paying less now than when I was renting.

    • Jared

      Ironic, isn’t it?

      The county is suing the state and feds to keep from expanding I-395 because of what it will do to poor folks of color in South Arlington, while embarking on this trolley boondoggle that will either (a) be a wasted expense that tears up the roads for nothing, or (b) be successful and price long-time residents out of the real estate market.

      • Westover

        B-I-N-G-O!

      • John Snyder

        Not ironic at all–both actions are to keep thousands of cars off the Pike. Where will the 10,000 trips per day be without the streetcar?–in cars, stuck in gridlock. And where will the cars from Dale City go when I-395 backs up? onto the Pike and connected roads. Adding more cars does not reduce traffic.

        • charlie

          last I checked, Columbia Pike does not exactly go near Dale City.
          when 395 backs up they all go the Beauregard and Walter Reed and Van Dorn because those actually run parallel to 395.
          But yes, we don’t want those people from Dale City and their Kia’s and Hyundai’s on our roads.

          • John Antonelli

            John has hit a good point. The trolley will make driving on the Pike extremely difficult and a lot slower yes to keep people from driving to the Pentagon and Washington. When you look at the trolley folly, I-66, and HOT Lanes it is apparent Arlington wants to wall itself off. Problem is when you are a gateway community you have to be a gateway.

          • John Snyder

            Charlie, I am referring to the HOT lanes proposal–the HOT lanes will go to Dale City, or at least closer. I agree that we don’t want the I-395 traffic on the Pike, Walter Reed, etc. That is why the county board is making the state follow the law to study those impacts. The streetcar will improve traffic on the Pike by moving more people faster, (larger capacity vehicle, moving faster, spending less time at each stop) and enticing more people out of their cars.

    • Mike

      I’m not in the market for affordable housing personally. Rather I just don’t want my tax dollars to subsidize someone else getting a cheaper place to live. I’m happy to pay a reasonable amount of taxes if my dollars are going toward something that benefits the whole community like schools, parks, roads, etc.

      This is the problem I see with the streetcar. It will encourage the redevelopment of one of the last remaining moderate income areas in the county, which once it becomes more desirable, will cause the affordable housing to be redeveloped with higher priced condos etc.. THen the county board will go out and spend more tax $ subsidizing housing somewhere else. Affordable housing and redevelopment are not compatible.

      • G

        Agreed, I’m not a fan of the affordable housing program either, but I would still like to see redevelopment in Columbia Pike.

        • Lou

          It’s already happening. Sans trolley.

          • John Antonelli

            And just so you all know. Form Based Code developments are the only ones in Arlington County that do jot have to anything towards affordable housing

    • JIm

      if you want more affordable housing — move some place fewer people want to live. it’s called supply and demand.

      • Bender

        That’s one of the reasons that I moved to a place along Columbia Pike. That’s why a lot of people live here. But the County and their bedfellow rich developers are doing their best to make the country unaffordable and unliveable.

  • charlie

    ah yes, the meeting wasn ““not the forum”” to discuss whether or not a streetcar line should be put in place. When exactly was that forum? yeah, exactly.
    Hey Hey the Arlington Way.

    • John Snyder

      The forum for decision was the open meeting of the county board in 2006, which followed dozens of community meetings (including one in the packed ballroom of the Sheraton). The planning commission endorsed it 10-1 following an open meeting; the transportation commission unanimously after an open meeting. Everybody had their say. The people claiming they were shut out were at those meetings saying the same things. Folks on the Pike have been working on transit solutions for more than 10 years. If you chose not to take part, don’t blame the county or the folks who live on the Pike.

      • John Antonelli

        Really John, in that meeting the County Board specifically said that this was not to approve a trolley. SO the appropriate time to discuss the trolley is after it is approved. Now THAT is the Arlington Way.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        This is the same line we get with the EFC redevelopment.
        1) County board stacks a commission to come up with a plan
        2) Locals are told don’t worry about it we are just putting together a draft plan for discussion.
        3) Plan is put out
        4) Community discussions – lots of public outcry
        5) CB meetings lots of negative feedback
        6) Insiders and CB admonish the locals – where were you when the plan was being created?
        7) CB accepts the plan – saying this don’t worry this is just a draft – staff needs to revise it.
        … Now we wait while staff ignores every bit of feedback or actually makes things even more unacceptable.

  • North Adams Snob

    The trolley (er “street car” or “light rail” or whatever trolley’s are called today) is a BRILLIANT idea. The Pike will benefit from the gentrification (and, please, let’s not kid ourselves that gentrification and the associated increases in tax revenues is a bad thing). Unfortunately, it will probably finally be built in, oh, 2119, which by that time we’ll all have flying cars and the debate will center around expanding DCA’s commuter lanes.

  • Hank Hill

    how is going to take the street car except for illegal ailens?

  • mosprott

    We went to a meeting @ the Sheraton a few years ago, and the trolley was already being presented as “the only sensible option” – they threw out the idea of rapid-transit buses as backward and clumsy. They weren’t interested in opinions then, and they’re not interested in opinions now.

    They continue to show pretty pictures of Portland…where there is literally no extreme weather. Portland doesn’t have thunderstorms, rarely has snow, and the area the trolley goes through is mainly (recently gentrified) retail – NOT commuter thoroughfares like the Pike. I have made this point in at least two meetings, and have been told “we’ll certainly keep that in mind.”

    Keep this in mind: The only County Board member on this side of Rte. 50 (therefore, the only one who’s got a financial interest in seeing property values go up) is the man spearheading the initiative.

    • Josh

      RE: Keep this in mind…

      I’d have to say that’s exactly right, we call that representation. Remember, people do live South of 50. And we want Street Car on the Pike and other places too. Lets be honest, given the option of street car or bus, everyones going to choose streetcar.

      • John Antonelli

        Not true. I want to reach my destination, not be stuck behind a nis parked car. I prefer the bus.

      • terri

        your comment is a guess and nothing more. i for one would choose bus over streetcar, simply because buses are more flexible, you can re-route, add or remove quicker

    • G

      +1 Josh. How is it fair that us South Arlington residents are paying the same % in prop. taxes towards the Metro system, yet all we have are the buses. Buses do not drive development.

      • Lou

        Ok I’ll bite. I live in north Arlington. Why should a penny of my tax money go to your trolley in south Arlington? See how ridiculous that type of thinking is?

        You’re welcome to finance it yourself though (residents of south Arlington). I only wish that was possible.

        • Jason S

          Considering how much of Metro is paid for by people who don’t live near it and never use it, it’s unreasonable to think that as a North Arlington resident you shouldn’t have to pay for projects elsewhere.

          • Lou

            Hey, just a couple weeks ago the Va Supreme Court upheld the special tax districts imposed to pay for transportation improvements. I wouldn’t mind seeing that slapped on the Pike to pay for their hyper-local transit project.

  • Take it down a notch

    I used to ride the trolley (subway-surface cars) when I lived in Philadelphia. Several of the lines converged and went underground a couple of blocks from where I lived. They travel below ground in center city (downtown) and above ground in other parts of the city. I found them to be a good way to travel, not slow at all, and generally better than taking the bus. Philadelphia’s weather is no less extreme than we get here in DC, but it didn’t affect the trolleys any more than it affected buses.

    • mosprott

      My concern re: weather is that a major complaint about the Pike is traffic congestion. When the power goes out, those trolleys are going to be squat in the middle of traffic, with no way to move them. And the power on the Pike goes out often enough that they need to design for that.

      • dpan

        Three words: emergency power backup.

        • John Antonelli

          Not in the picture

  • SoCo Resident

    OVERHEAD WIRES! Sorry the depiction shows overhead wires. The old streetcars in DC and in many other cities put the wires underground and they are grabbed by a magnet underneath the car. This way there is no proliferation of poles and wires. NO WIRES!

    • shriley

      the overhead wires are conveniently left out of the pictures. as are the overbudget futures of operating.

      • John Snyder

        Bull. the overhead wires are clearly shown in every picture, and have been for the last five years. The operating cost estimates have also always been presented. What is hidden by the anti-Pike folks is that streetcars cost less to operate and maintain–fewer vehicles with fewer drivers with less maintenance and less fuel costs.

    • dpan

      There is more than one way to power a streetcar, including in-track options that are safely out of sight and out of reach. Take the photo composite in this post with a grain of salt. It is a conceptual illustration that has been used for years–I believe I saw that same image in 2005-6 when this plan first started getting attention.

      • mosprott

        Last night, they talked a lot about the beauty of the single-overhead-wire system in one of the breakout sessions. I don’t think there’s any question that this will be powered with overhead lines, despite the fact that they’ve just torn up the streets at the eastern end of the pike to underground the power lines.

        SoCo resident – they’re trying to figure out what to do with the DC trolley line, since they’ve just come to realize that there’s some sort of ban against overhead lines. The trolleys they bought from Hungary, and the tracks they’ve already installed, rely on overhead power delivery.

        • John Antonelli

          It will be the same system DC is planning to install with the exact same cars wires and all. Oh and the fare collection system is classic – yes its the HONOR SYSTEM.

  • Teyo

    I take the bus every day to and from work along the Pike. The frequent service is one of the reasons I decided to move here. However, the pot-holes and jerkiness associated with riding the bus makes riding a streetcar a much more pleasant experience. Building a streetcar line would provide for a much smoother ride along the Pike and that, along with the “neat-o” factor already mentioned, would lead to better access to the Pike for many people who would otherwise never visit.

    • Bluemonter

      +1

    • Real World Economics

      Here’s a novel concept. Why not use the money they’re proposing for the streetcar to REPAIR and REPAVE the Pike?! Then everyone would actually benefit. Probably be a lot cheaper as well and the County could use the left over money to retain essential services that they keep trying to cut.

      • Piker

        Here’s another concept – take the money and fix the metro. That’ll get more people out of their cars to use public transportation. It needs fixing FIRST!

  • MC

    The tram needs to connect to Crystal City to work successfully. Otherwise it is just another feeder to the Metro, and basically only helps to get people to DC. I can see traffic between CC and Skyline, and points in between, than aren’t served by buses today.

    • John Antonelli

      That is in the plan. It will go Target to Target Store. It may go to DC too and Moran has suggested that it go to Tysons.

  • g_clifford_prout

    Mr. Antonelli can go back to from whence he came (was is Boston John?). This S. Arl. resident is 100% behind the streetcar, trolley, light rail line. Now excuse me while I check my white pages for John’s phone number so I can use my rotary phone to give him my what for. ARE THEY ANY QUESTIONS?

    • John Antonelli

      Not going to happen. I will be here to hang that albatross around all your necks.

      • MB

        Court jester, more likely.

  • TGEoA

    I’m all for Zimmies trolly. It will force out those immigrants who don’t bother to learn English

    • PikeHoo

      Where do you even begin to address the stupidity of this comment?

  • JIm

    BRING ON THE TROLLEY!!!! a year after it is in operation, people will question why there was ever a debate.

    • Bender

      That’s right. They’ll wonder how anyone could have been so foolish to promote this. They’ll wonder why this wasn’t a slam-dunk down the rat hole of dumb ideas.

  • charlie

    isn’t their a SIMPSONS episode about buying a monorail system?? deja vu

    • PikeHoo

      Cartoon analogies…wow.

      • charlie

        life imitates art. or is it the other way around?

  • RosslynHeightsformerResident

    Wow, reading this list I can see that Mr. Antonelli is not afraid to let people know how arrogant, negative, and unproductive he is. I can’t imagine he would be content anywhere or with anything. “Hang an albatross around your neck?!” Who says that? Folks, do you have a better idea to improve the pike? If so then say it. And not just and idea of “lets keep buses they seem to be doing the job”. So much negativity. How do you people get through life with so much darkness? If you don’t like it here THEN LEAVE!

  • Katie

    I look forward to the day when I can describe where I live as “along the cool streetcar line” instead of “well, have you been to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse? Yea, near there.”

    • KalashniKEV

      Unfortunately you’re going to be living in, “the huge dirty construction project” for many years and the streetcar will never be “Cool.”

      It’s always going to be terrible and slow, and no one will ever ride it. The Honor System makes it even more ridiculous. Even if they reveal the true costs and go ahead with the project, this is going to slow down traffic, eliminate an important bus line, create a multi year eyesore and hazard, PLUS the county will be hemmoraging dollars forever after on this Fiasco.

      • South Arlington

        News flash KalashniKEV, the bus we have now is terrible, slow, late, with frequent stops jamming traffic as it blocks lanes through areas that have had their growth stagnated due to a lack of investment. It’s easy for you to complain as I’ve ascertained you don’t live along the Columbia Pike corridor. I’m with Katie in that I look forward to being proud of the streetcar. Investment has already come to the Pike due to the promise of the streetcar bringing with it new businesses, new restaurants, and increased property values and desirability for local homeowners. The 16 bus line, while decent as a transport option, didn’t get local residents any type of business or economic development. Instead we had a bunch of wig stores, check cashing stores, and three of the worst grocery stores in the region (the Penrose Giant, the Penrose Safeway and the Food Star). I’d say the streetcar will be far less an eyesore than the current buses, especially when it is transiting through the newly improved Pike corridor. The county will reap the benefits of increased tax bases from the new revenues and created wealth along the corridor thanks to the trolley investment. And it is an investment.

        BRING ON THE TROLLEY!

        • KalashniKEV

          I just moved from that area and the 16G always treated me right. I’m also guessing from your posts that you probably work for the government, and have no idea how a business runs or how wealth is created. The Trolley isn’t going to “bring people” to your area that don’t want to go there. Just because they’re moving along Columbia Pike at a slower speed than the present bus doesn’t mean they’re going to jump off out of desparation and patoronize local business. I find this “Big Con$truction Project + Trolley line = Prosperity” formula laughable. It’s the same as a bus, just slower and less responsive to the changing needs of the transportation network.

          • South Arlington

            I’ve never disagreed that the bus isn’t an adequate transit option. But it’s not attractive. And it doesn’t attract new development. Columbia Pike was dormant for years until the trolley discussions started happening. Your argument that the idea that the trolley will lead to prosperity along the corridor is laughable isn’t based on any fact. Just look at the corridor today – it’s already got new development, new stores, new restaurants, new bars, new stores that would have NEVER gone in without the potential of the streetcar. The neighborhood is already reaping the benefit, and will continue to improve once the streetcar project reaches maturity.

            BTW I worked for years in private industry in business development. I’ve also purchased a house in an up and coming neighborhood. I’ve got a fairly decent idea on how to develop wealth.

  • JohnB

    One of the major advantages that a street car system has over the bus lines is that it is a fixed investment. Bus lines can be canceled in a few months. Once the street car is built, people (citizens, businesses, and developers) know it will be there for years to come. The county will be able to recapture some of the redevelopment in the form of committed affordable units. When more businesses open (office and retail) there will be more jobs along the Pike, and more shopping and entertainment options making the neighborhood a more desirable place to live. The addition to the commercial tax base will keep residential property taxes lower than they would otherwise be. It is a cost benefit calculation that comes out heavily in favor of the Pike as a neighborhood, and the county as a whole.

    The detractors of the Street Car and County in general claim that the county doesn’t listen to the people. Unfortunately the evidence is to the contrary. The street car proposal is the product of a decade long community involvement process. The results of this process can be found on the county’s website. If that’s not enough to convince you, we just had an election and re-elected Chris Zimmerman. The county is listening to its citizens, but it’s listening to the majority. I was at the meeting and most of the people there were citizens, not county staff.

    • Thes

      +1

    • KalashniKEV

      Ridiculous. The streetcar is an outdated and inflexible option, and there’s no way to spin that into a “Strength.” The streetcar isn’t going to make someone go anywhere they don’t want to go. If there is no ridership on a bus line, you’re correct, it’s cancelled. When there is no ridership on a streetcar line, you’re stuck with it and all the investment that went into it (as well as current operating costs) are sunk. Nobody is going to 1) Ride it just b/c it’s there 2) Hop off in at some random spot and spend money at a local business. That’s absurd.

      The bus is a far more versatile option… that’s why all the other cities streetcar lines are ANCIENT.

      • JohnB

        On second thought, you’re absolutely right. The fixed investment of the Metro has had zero impact on the economic development of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, or Ballston or the desirability of living there (sarcasm).

        • Jared

          It’s true that the Metro has had a profound, mostly positive, impact on the Orange Line corridor in Arlington.

          But the fixed nature of the investment works both ways–now that there is a huge residential and retail infrastructure along the corridor, the Orange Line is practically unusable, with no feasible plan to upgrade it. (How the inclusion of rail service to Tysons and Dulles will make this better is beyond me.)

          At least with buses, they can take any given Metro bus and put it in service anywhere in the tri-“state” area, adjusting routes and frequencies to meet changes in demand.

          With the trolley, best-case scenario is that it works well but becomes obsolete within 10-15 years.

        • KalashniKEV

          I thought we were talking about a Trolley car here? I’m not against increasing the East-West flow of public transportation, but an electric train in the middle of the road is laughable. Does it not make you laugh to even imagine it? The torn up street for years, increasing costs of construction, late deadlines, high operating costs, and the traffic nightmare once it’s installed? This has FIASCO written all over it. Half of the money put into newer, more efficient, more plentiful bus transportation would have a positive effect, tunneling a new Metro line would have a positive effect, this will be a nightmare.

  • Home owner

    I have lived in a single family home in Arlington County for 20 years now and real estate taxes have NEVER decreased!

    • South Arlington

      Probably because your house’s value has generally increased year after year due to Arlingotn being a very desirable place to live. Also my property taxes went down last year.

      • Frenchy B

        Yep, mine dropped last year as well.

  • Get over it naysayers. The “Gentrification” has begun. For the folks north of Rt. 50, get over yourselves. You are just upset by the loss of free access to your beloved “Metro” that has been blocked by the little “city places” and community association requested “dead end streets” at every access point. Give us our trolley and help pay for it too just as we did for your Metro. It what the Pike residents want and are waiting for. As for the chronic complainer, (we all know who that is…) just ignore him and he will be arguing against something new next week.

    • Bender

      Wow, you must be on the County Board. Telling me, a Pike resident, what I want and what I’m waiting for. And, as an added bonus in thugery, telling us that you’re going to jam it down our throats whether we like it or not.

      Have you ever thought of working for TSA?

    • terri

      i’m a pike resident and i don’t want a streetcar, don’t want the type of development in cyrstal or ballston, don’t want lots more apartment people living in my neighborhood..littering, dogs pooping on the lawn and streets, parking in front of the house, long lines at stores and eateries. nope don’t want any of that.

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