Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com June 6, 2012 at 8:39 am 3,508 86 Comments

Public Streetcar Meeting Tonight — A public meeting will be held tonight to gather resident input on an alternatives analysis and environmental assessment conducted for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar project. The meeting is being held at Patrick Henry Elementary School’s gymnasium (701 S. Highland Street) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. [Pike Transit Initiative]

Op-Ed: Streetcar Will Spur Development — While the Columbia Pike streetcar has many vocal critics, at least one resident has penned an op-ed supporting the project. Real estate developer David DeCamp says the streetcar will spur development and attract ridership in a way that the alternatives — including an articulated bus system — cannot. [Sun Gazette]

Car Break-Ins Near Ballston — Overnight, between Monday, June 4, and Tuesday, June 5, four Honda sedans were broken into on the 5000 block of N. 10th Street, in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood near Ballston. The windows were smashed and airbags in each of the vehicles were stolen. GPS devices were also stolen from two vehicles. All of the vehicles were parked in an area away from residences, with little street lighting, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

County Gets Low Rate on Bonds — Arlington County sold $108 million in bonds yesterday, June 5, and received what it’s calling “one of the lowest overall rates Arlington has seen.” The General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds sold to investors at an average interest rate of 2.77 percent. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by MrFochs

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Oh this should be fun. All streetcar all day.

  • Quoth the Raven

    Instead, we could talk about the anti-Honda guy….

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Cool picture!

    • Josh S


      I was going to go to the ice rink but then decided not to because of the clouds. I see I made a mistake…..

      • x

        really cool pic

  • BreakPause02

    Re: Bonds


    Are you kidding? Maintenance and operating expenses should not be funded by bonds! They should be used for capital expenses only.

    Is the county saying with all the money they collect via taxes they cannot even do low level maintenance work to our roads?

    • ArlRes

      Perhaps the paving is only for the capital eligible expenses and not the operating costs

    • drax

      You don’t see how paving can be considered a capital expense?

      • Espiro

        The one thing I can see is that some people are willing to suspend facts to foster their arguments.

        • speonjosh

          Was the definition of “capital expense” derived from the laws of nature?

    • JohnB

      Major re-paving is a capital expense while minor repairs are a maintenance expense.

      • Pomeroy Watson

        And of course the definition of “major” repaving is whatever suits your argument at the time.

        • JohnB

          Current county policy requires a repaving project to extend the useful life of a street beyond 10 years to be eligible for funding via capital bonds. If the project does not meet that threshold it is funded via PAYG (pay as you go) funding.

          • speonjosh

            Argument concluded.

            (By a manmade definition subject to change. No facts were involved.)

          • Pomeroy Watson

            I think you’ve misrepresented to us something you found on Google. Got a link you would like to share that outlines that policy?

          • JohnB
          • JohnB

            No witty retorts?

          • Pomeroy Watson

            No, just waiting for you to realize you proved my point. I imagine I’ll be waiting quite a while.

          • drax

            “The majority of the repaving projects performed in the County extend the useful life of a street beyond 10 years (and in many cases, well beyond 10 years), meeting the criteria for use of bond funding. For the small portion of the paving program that does not extend the useful life beyond 10 years, the County will continue to use PAYG funding.”

            JohnB sounds right to me.

          • JohnB

            I must be thick. Please elaborate on how I proved your point.

  • (another) Greg


    A developer thinks the streetcar is just hunky-dory? Perish the thought.

    • Mary-Austin

      I was just gonna say the same thing.

      Look we have a cute little streetcar like Portland. Now pay me 40% more for my cheaply slapped together apartment.

      • drax

        And people WILL pay more for it, and the amenities it brings. That’s how free markets work.

        • John K.

          Great. Let the free market build that dang trolley line.

          • drax

            Sure, as long as the free market builds the roads and sidewalks too. Makes just as much sense.

          • John K.

            Considering how poorly Arlington is doing with its streets, I just might go that far. I want my gubmint to spend that trolley cash on the streets and on better traffic management. The feds aren’t going to put in that much money in the short or long term, anyhow.

          • drax

            What, toll plazas at every intersection?

          • UptonHiller

            Since the government is going out to the retail bond market for most of its financing, the free market-private sector is in fact providing infrastructure.

            No way the government can afford giant follies like the streetcar on its own.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            drax – there have been proposals for “road taxes” and with modern GPS they would be easy to implement. Some states do weight-mile taxes for heavy trucks – “Under a weight-mile system, the tax rate increases with the weight of a truck and it is paid per mile of truck operation in the state.”

          • drax

            Suburban, private entities can’t tax though.

            Private entities would have to charge people for using their road, somehow.

            So…toll plazas at every intersection?

          • John K.

            Sure. I’ll take toll plazas if’n that means no more traffic calming and potholes that jack up my bucket when I actually do drive.

          • Clarendon

            If the free market was responsible for all transportation infrastructure, we would have smart growth nationwide – clusters of mixed use connected by the most efficient means which is likely to be rail.

          • DCBuff

            “If the free market was responsible for all transportation infrastructure, we would have smart growth nationwide – clusters of mixed use connected by the most efficient means which is likely to be rail.”

            –you’re saying this based on???

      • FreeMicroEcon

        qd = f(price, other)

        qs=f(price, other)

        equilibrium price is p* where qs=qd which we can call q*.

        The street car either shifts the qd for any given price (which is what we call the demand curve) or it does not. If it does, it will increase q* (what folks call “new development” which leads to new tax revenues for the county, and other benefits). If it does NOT effect the demand curve (the qd for any given price) then it will NOT effect p* (ergo, price will not be impacted by the street car).

        This is your free micro econ lesson for the day.

        • FreeMicroEcon

          note to students:

          whatever Mary Austin says in response, please critique it using the concepts you have learned in Micron Econ. You will be graded.

          • Thes

            As long as we are grading things: “effect” and “affect” do not mean the same thing.

        • True

          And if you don’t like this answer, the economists have several others.

        • Bill Safire (deceased)

          “(ergo, price will not be impacted by the street car).”

          Well, the price may be affected by the street car but unless it (the price) is struck by the street car while it (the price) crosses the street it will not be impacted.

  • Jack

    Who steals airbags? Can someone enlighten me why a person would want airbags?

    • Hikin’ the pike

      Actually, airbags do have a high street value; their needed to repair cars involved in accidents and run hundreds of dollars.

      Separate comment: blah blah blah STREETCAR, blah blah blah ARTICULATED BUS.

  • Southeast Ben

    What’s the street value of an airbag these days?

    • x


      • thegreatGU

        Street price is about $250.

        I used to be in insurance and they would cost about $1k-$2K each (including installation)

        So yes, a 10 MPH hit that will deploy all of your airbags will total your car, by insurance, if the cost to replace the airbags is greater than 70% (for most states) of the total value for your car.

  • mathemagician

    airbag=streetcar/(x+z)596.406. Where X = number of people bitching about a streetcar and z = length of Chris zimmerman’s moustache

  • Corey

    Hey, streetcar haters: with interest rates so low on County debt, we’d be crazy not to borrow heavily and re-invest in infrastructure.

    Let a thousand streetcar lines bloom.

  • Pedro

    Nothing beats my Sledgehammer for commuting on Columbia Pike…

    • Napoleon

      You got shocks, pegs… lucky!

  • barry

    Las Vegas residents and tourists LOVE articulated buses. Why doesn’t CPRO start fixing up the Pike instead of wanting to tear every building over 20 years old down?

    • Piker

      In the end it will not matter. The amount of new residents the county intends to let developers add to Columbia Pike is going to choke the area with vehicles and pedestrians. It is going to be a truly horrible place to negotiate.

      • Harry

        If the streetcar happens maybe there won’t be so many vehicles…

        • 5555624

          Huh? More people means more cars. While some of the new residents the county wants to move to the Columbia Pike area will not have cars many, if not most, will. None of these new apartment buildings is being built without parking.

          Take something as simple as grocery shopping — the more people you’re shopping for, the more likely you’ll drive. One person? Walk, bike, streetcar. Two people? Unless you both go, driving becomes an easier option. Three people? Unless you go every day, you’re probably driving.

          Americans love their cars. Whether you’re for or against the streetcar, it’s not going to reduce many vehicles, other than maybe rush hour. Sure, it may mean more people take mass transit when it starts running, but as time goes on and more people move to the area — not just along the Pike — the cars will increase. If you count the vehicles a month or two after the streetcar starts and then five years later, there will be more cars, not less.

          • drax

            It’s not cars, it’s miles driven by cars. People may have cars, yes, but they may drive them less.

            It will also reduce distances between home, work, and restaurants/shopping – meaning even more people will walk and use transit. The effect goes both ways.

          • S. Arlington Resident

            Don’t speak for me. I’ll give up a car when it gets here.
            Everyone’s generic statements that portray their subjective opinions as factual is a joke.

            I’ll gladly take the street car to work at Skyline. And I’ll gladly take it to Giant and buy groceries. And guess what? I’ll buy less food since I won’t stack up on a week’s worth of groceries to put in my car. In turn I’ll lose weight and stay in better shape as a result of my stocking up on less food and walking to and from stops.

  • Becoming indifferent

    Seriously, do you streetcar supporters think people moving to Columbia PIke won’t give up their cars? Have you been to Clarendon, where every new development has a garage so the new residents can park their cars. It’s going to be a mess.

    • FrenchyB

      Give up their cars, no. Drive them less frequently, yes.

      • John K.

        You sure? The street car specs show that the streetcars won’t have much more seating (41 on a 40′ Metrobus vs 44 on a 66′ trolley), just tons more standing. People will stand if they have to, but how many people are going to roll up and down the Pike to conduct business when they are probably gonna have to hold on to their bags of crap while some bus-on-rail lurches through traffic. Maybe a couple of people further West on the Pike will take a trolley to get tanked at Ye Old Douchebag Tavern (1 or 2)instead of driving… but they can do that for less than $260m.

        • SoArl

          I stand on the metro every day on the way to work, carrying a laptop and my purse. What’s the difference?

          • Scott

            It’s the same

          • Suburban Not Urban

            There’s a big difference between commuting back and forth to the office carrying next to nothing and having a system designed where every need and want must be hand carried – grocerys, your new tv set, furniture,

          • SoArl

            Why is it all or nothing? Commuters don’t count?

      • Becoming indifferent

        Drive them less frequently? No.

        • Clarendon Resident

          Ummm….yes. At least in my case.

          Some years ago when I went to renew my auto insurance policy and was required to supply my annual mileage, I received a snarky letter from the corporate office in reply which said something like ‘we need your ACTUAL mileage not your DREAM mileage.’

          So I contacted my insurance agent, explaining that I HAD submitted my actual mileage; although I had previously lived adjacent to the West Falls Church metro (and had annual mileage of about 7000 miles) I had moved to Clarendon and now walked almost everywhere. As a result, my annual mileage is about 3000 miles. He laughed and told me he’d take care of it.

          My 2001 vehicle just hit 40,000 miles last month. Wooo-hooo! So perhaps it’s accurate to say that at least some Clarendon residents DO drive less frequently.

    • Mary-Austin

      Of course they’re not going to give up their cars.
      The people willing to pay the rents that are going to come are not going to give up their Audis for a streetcar that takes them a couple blocks up and down Columbia Pike.

    • drax

      Is Clarendon a mess? Is it completely choked with traffic? No.

      Most will still own cars, just not use them as much, especially at peak times.

      • clarendon

        also worth pointing out that Clarendon and Wilson used to be 3 lanes in each direction in the 80s. one lane was closed on each to provide more parallel parking spots, so giving up a lane to a trolley will not kill you

        • Becoming indifferent

          Oh yes, and traffic flows SO SMOOTHLY on both of those streets.

          • Bill

            … they do. even at 5pm on a weeknight it flows better than 90% of the other roads in the area. the B-R corridor is the epitome of smart growth.

      • Becoming indifferent

        Uh, have you been through Clarendon at rush hour? Sometimes it takes two or three cycles to get through a stoplight.

        • drax

          Have you been on I-66 during rush hour?

        • Bob

          Have you been on the orange line during rush hour?

  • Knazna

    With the street car Columbia Pike will become a 2 lane parking lot.

    • speonjosh

      Mark Knazna’s words here, world!! You have been warned!!

  • speonjosh

    Just out of curiosity, what makes Arlington different from all the other places in the world where streetcars exist yet their roads haven’t become “2 lane parking lots?”

    I mean the obvious concentration of Clarendouches aside…..

    • drax


      • Mary-Austin

        I’m not sure which is worse. Trevor and company or the guys that would always honk at me in their buzzer cars when I was 12 walking down Columbia Pike.

      • WeiQiang


    • DCBuff

      I think this was topic of conversation other day. As it was pointed out by some then, in certain cities streetcars have either dedicated medians or the streets are wider than Columbia Pike. What really needs to be shown here by streetcar advocates, is where else exists a streetcar put in on top of a 2-lane in either direction major corridor that has not caused further traffic congestion. That is how you make your point, not coming up with some derogatory term for the brown flip-flop set.

      • MarceyRd

        It’s all they got.

  • speonjosh

    P.S. I love it when the Meh girl shows up in the rotating ad box. Hubba hubba!!

  • bringmetheyuppies

    what all the naysayers dont seem to get is that BUSSES already take one lane daily at rush hour. The bob and weave is typical for a morning or evening run down the pike. More busses won’t solve the problem since most people dont like busses. Also I propose that NOONE within 3 miles of metro and north of 50 get a vote in this. The Southside spends alot of money to supplement Metro with no access. It is our turn to take your money and benefit the south arlington neighborhoods with better hopusing, dining, shopping, and real estate prices,

    • SoArl

      Yes, yes, yes!

      • Bus Lover

        Metro is terrible and I moved to Columbia Pike to take a bus to DC on which I can get a seat every day. It’s a much better commute.

  • Mc

    Great streetcar editorial. People who are against the streetcar are against progress. We need progress if Arlington is to stay competitive.


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