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County Releases Video Promoting Streetcar System

by ARLnow.com August 21, 2012 at 9:50 am 9,725 148 Comments

Arlington County has released a new video that makes the case for the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar lines.

With the Columbia Pike and Crystal City areas expected to add 37,000 jobs and 21,000 residents by 2040, the video says, the streetcar is a necessary investment to reduce traffic. In addition, the streetcar will spur economic development, much like Arlington’s investment in Metro in the 1960s and 70s spurred growth along the Blue and Orange Lines, according to the video.

“We’re taking our transportation network to a new level of service by making a strategic investment in a streetcar system,” the video says. “Arlington’s streetcar system, still in the early design stages, will put a decidedly modern twist on one of the nation’s oldest forms of mass transit. The streetcar will extend Metrorail’s reach… and help reduce traffic congestion as our community continues to grow.”

The video touts some of the benefits of the streetcar, calling it “reliable, appealing, efficient… quieter, less polluting, and easier to get on and off.” Plus, the streetcar is much cheaper than heavy rail transit, and developers are attracted to the areas around streetcar lines.

The streetcar will revitalize Columbia Pike and “transform it into a more walkable main street,” the video said.

Arlington’s planned streetcar system will run from Skyline in Fairfax County, down a five mile stretch of Columbia Pike, to the Pentagon City Metro station. From Pentagon City, the line will run down to Crystal City then over to Potomac Yard. The system will be integrated and users will be able to have a “one-seat ride” from Skyline to Potomac Yard, according to the video.

The video makes the case that more than 40 percent of all transit rides in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia begin or end in Arlington. With the streetcar — which is expected to cost some $250 million for the Columbia Pike portion alone — Arlington will be able to continue its record of successful transit-oriented smart growth, the video says.

“Arlington is choosing to invest in streetcars, just as it invested a half century ago in Metro,” said the video.

In addition to producing video, Arlington County has set up a new Arlington Streetcar web site.

  • Rebecky

    Still do not understand the love affair with streetcars. Tremendously expensive and a fixed route. What is so wrong with the buses that run every 5 minutes along Columbia Pike?

    • Becoming indifferent

      Because someone thought trolleys were cute and they could make a lot of money. No other reason.

      • Josh S

        Ah yes, because that’s how massive capital investments are made using public dollars – whimsy!!

        • Bender

          But isn’t it great that public moneys are now being used to fund a Ministry of Propaganda?

          • Josh S

            You mean those constant Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines recruiting commericals on tv during football games?

          • Becoming indifferent

            That’s money well spent in comparison.

          • Josh S


          • RMoney

            Arlington County has the community cable access equivalent of Fox News?

    • Chris L.

      Good question! I was going to make a similar comment myself. ART buses would be so much more economical, would not require the expensive fixed infrastructure and would offer much more flexibility in their routing and utility. This streetcar fad is occurring in other cities too and seems to be driven by some kind of nostalgic obsession rather than efficiency and practicality. AND, of course, there are the beneficiaries of the infrastructure construction contracts 🙂

      • Josh S

        No one goes there anymore – it’s too crowded.

        Streetcar fad?

        Gosh, I can’t wait until horse and buggies come back into fashion. I have a whole closet full of top hats, linen shirts and black wool waistcoats that I’ve been wanting to wear.

      • m

        You obviously don’t actually ride ART buses. People who don’t use public transit are usually in favor of buses – for other people to use. All the users of the Columbia Pike buses I know favor a streetcar. And the inflexibility of streetcars is part of the appeal – they entice developers and buyers with more certainty that the line is going to remain in place for a long time, not rerouted like a bus might be.

        • BrianR

          When have they ever considered rerouting buses off Columbia Pike, and what negative impacts did that have on development?

          • Josh S

            On the other hand, Col Pike has been well served by buses for a long time now, and it’s only in the last five years or so that development has picked up. Why?

          • BrianR

            Open you time frame up to 20 or 30 years, and you will still see that development “picked up” along Columbia Pike. In fact it has been pretty steady, both in construction and new businesses.

          • Josh S

            I’ll admit, I’ve only been on the Pike for eight years. But I’d love to see the data on new housing starts by year, new businesses by year, etc. I’m sure growth has happened over the last twenty-thirty years, but the important thing would be the pace of that growth. The place seemed pretty sleepy when I got here.

          • craig

            that is because the developers have redeveloped all of the land in the rest of the county, now they are focusing on columbia pike and crystal city, since everything else is spoken for.

          • Josh S

            Certainly there is some truth to this. But Lee Highway continues without any substantial development. And the citizenry is supposedly much richer up there.

            Also, development continues at a pretty significant pace in the RB corridor.

            So I don’t think your argument is entirely worthy.

        • I’m VERY excited

      • Sam

        Would you ride the bus?

    • newty25

      Exactly. Why take money from taxpayers in North Arlington to help out the ghetto in South Arlington?

      • John

        You obviously have not been to Columbia pike recently

        • CP Neighbor

          Don’t you know the streets in North Arlington are paved in gold where no crime exists and everyone buys organic?

      • Arlingtony

        Troll alert.

        • Josh S

          Where are the Three Billy Goats Gruff when we need them?

    • Ballstonian

      Not that my participation is central to the streetcar’s success, but I don’t see myself ever using it. I’d have to metro from Ballston all the way around to Pentagon/Pentagon City, once/if its connect to those stops, or I’d have to drive/bus/bike/cab down there. If i bike or drive, and i by chance needed to go to several stops on the Pike, i would drive/bike between them and skip the street car. And the locales would have to be far enough apart that I would choose to pay to take the street car rather than walk between them.

      • Ballstonian

        As an aside, the reason why i even mention my usage of the streetcar as being relevant is because of the purported increase in development along the Pike and the presumed attraction of non-Pike residents to the area for shopping/dinning/drinking etc.

      • South Awwlington

        It seems to me that Glebe would be a good fit to connect Ballston with Crystal City/Potomac Yard in the distant future. It would definitely encourage transit usage by seriously cutting cross-county travel time.

        • jan

          Good idea!

        • JamesE

          I would like to see a Glebe cable car system. Something like this


          • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

            Will there be a connection to the Arlington Ridge finicular?

          • South Awwlington
          • Diane

            Growing up in Pgh and using the inclines on a daily basis it has it’s problems too.
            NO Trolly. Our local, state and federal tax dollars could be used for other things.

          • South Awwlington

            Now that would cut down on travel time!

          • WeiQiang

            I’m thinking an escalator, like in Hong Kong. ArlCo already has the land at Hume School.

            The funicular is probably a better idea though. You get seating, AC, and maybe a froyo machine inside. Are you advocating one on both sides of Ridge … you know, just to keep the traffic moving along through the neighborhood.

          • South Awwlington

            I was thinking both sides with an artificial incline over 395 so the overall affect is an “M” or reverse “W.” This would allow of for re-connection of Arlington Ridge and Columbia Pike…you know, like before that Big Infrastructure Republican, Dwight Eisenhower “Ike” advocated for the need to move people and goods as part of economic prosperity, came through and messed everything all up.

            Funny, he was a Republican. The kind that built things.

          • WeiQiang

            Surely there must be room for an aerial tram from, say – looking at the topo – 16th S & S Barton to Arl Ridge. I’d take that puppy over to Rappahannock Coffee.

            Should the escalator/funicular/tram not pan out, I’m in favor of a Glebe Transitway … I’ll even christen it “The Poop Loop” since it will terminate near the water treatment plant, a major artworks destination.

          • South Awwlington

            lolz @ Poop Loop. Nice one, brah.

          • Tre

            +1, I like where your head’s at. We may even want to consider this: http://www.thenerdlist.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/futurama.jpg

    • AL

      Noisy, polluting, ugly, terrible ride quality, hobos…

      • Josh S

        Aren’t buses terrible?

    • Taylor

      The more I read about it, the streetcar just seems like a giveaway to well-connected developers who want a gimmick to sell more luxury condos. And the rest of us are the ones subsidizing their gimmick.

      • Josh S

        It’s strange because in all the videos of people riding the streetcars in other cities, I didn’t see anyone that looked like a well-connected developer.

        • snipe

          That’s because they are driving their Bentley that they bought with the profits they reaped from the building the streetcar system.

          • Josh S

            What am I missing here?

            Yes, a construction and engineering firm will profit from building the streetcar. Isn’t that a good thing? I thought we were all for creating jobs, building the economy, etc.

            In the meantime, thousands of other people (not developers) will ride and therefore benefit from the streetcar.

            What is the problem?

          • Squirginia Vare

            The problem many people have is that it is not simply that Billy and Joey’s Streetcar Emporium wants to come in and use their own money to put in a street car, but rather tha it is going to cost a lot of taxpayer money to put in said streetcar and that the investment is not worth the cost, in those people’s opinion.

            Its a similar argument to publicly financed stadiums, where the argument for taxpayer funding is that it will revitalize the area, bring in development, etc., and it doesnt always work out that way.

          • Josh S

            Fair enough. I agree that projections about induced economic development are hard to rely upon. There are so many reasons that individual developers / businesses decide to located in one are versus another. How much can you attribute to the presence (or predicted presence) of a streetcar? The answer is difficult to say, but it’s not zero. In addition, while plenty of studies are inconclusive or negative in their conclusions about public benefits from building sports stadiums, I think the studies are much more positive about the benefits of building transportation infrastructure, and specifically streetcars.

            Yes, it’s public money. But transportation infrastructure is a public good. For those who argue that America is in decline, they regularly point to deteriorating infrastructure, infrastructure that is not keeping up with population growth, etc. Arlington is wise to continue investing in transit and improving transit, etc. Yes, buses are cheaper up front, but I’m not sure they are cheaper long run and they appear to capture none of the other, more intangible qualities of a streetcar that seem to result in higher ridership and greater economic activity.

          • Claire

            Well said, Josh S!

          • I can’t wait until the tracks are laid and all his banter ends.

            Face it -it’s happening.

      • Well-connected Developer

        + $245,949

      • Stating the Obvious

        As it stands now, no general obligation bonds are going to be issued to pay for the streetcar. But I can imagine seeing it happen if the state or the feds don’t pony up the shares that the county board is hoping they will, or if the price goes a lot higher than current estimates.

    • Owen R.

      The key phrase in the video: “Developers are attracted to…”

      This is about building $600K condos on the Pike and displacing lower-income residents. A new bus service (not the traditional ART buses) would be so much cheaper and just as pleasant, but it wouldn’t remind the people who might buy those condos of Portland, Seattle, etc.

      • CP Neighbor

        Too bad the three new construction buildings went from condo to rental before they even broke ground because no one in South Arlington wanted to pay through their nose for an overpriced pre-fab shoebox.

        • JohnB

          Your right. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the collapse of the housing bubble. /sarcasm.

          • CP Neighbor

            Can you say “overvalued”? 😉

        • YTK

          Made with Particle board, Tyvek and a few bricks thrown in for good measure. Small rooms, tiny balconies – basically they are ant farms made for people.

    • ceefer66

      It’s called “Why can’t we be like Europe?”.

      Besides, the neo-urbanists who influence planning in many US cities have long decided that streetcars are sexier than buses and do more to “spur development” (in other words, increase property values) along the chosen route – nearly always where they either live, work or have invested.

      It’s the same thing the urbanists call “sprawl” when it occurs because of a newly-built highway.

    • Sam

      Because buses are loud. Because buses, whether fairly or not, have a stigma that means a lot of people won’t use them. Because buses too have maintenance costs just like a streetcar. Because developers can never build a new office or residential complex and tout that “buses run by every five minutes!” and expect it to be a success, while a modern streetcar is deemed to be a better infrastructure investment that promotes overall growth and livability.

  • Rosslyner

    Is the cost of the video included in the $250 million…or is this an add on?

  • NoVapologist

    I think the county needs to follow the Helsinki model and put a bar on the streetcar.

    • CP Neighbor

      Now that’s a trolley plan I would fully support.

  • Runaway Train

    The opening shot of the video is just like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!

    • Rick

      +1. Thought the same thing.

    • bobco85

      That technique is tilt-shift photography. Also, you just got the theme song stuck in my head. “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful…”

  • Ballstonian

    I posted this under the Attempted Robbery at the 7-11 article, but it’s appropriate here as well:

    Have any of the streetcar studies analyzed its impact on crime? i.e., whether an (assumed) increase in people traffic may deter/attract crime or whether having a (sort of) mass transit would have any impact? Any of the old timers remember back to the days when the Orange line was being laid and whether such a study was conducted and whether it bore any relation to current conditions?
    I have no idea if such studies exist or what they project(ed), but it would be interesting to see if its out there.

    • Arlingtony

      A very good question.

      I think it is in the interest of everyone, particularly residents along the Pike, that (while striving for a “vibrant”) neighborbood; we examine the potential effects the streetcar will have on crime. As a homeowner along the Pike, I obviously have an interest in seeing property values increase, which will only happen if: businesses continue to move in to the area, people feel safe, the neighborhood continues to become more attractive aestetically, etc.

    • jan

      Concern about the “riff-raff” coming in is why Georgetown isn’t on a metro line.

      • SomeGuy

        I’ve heard that before, but is it true? Can someone with a little more tenure in this area than I have provide some insight about this?

      • bb

        BS. Limited value (Georgetown isn’t a major employment hub) and engineering nightmare (a Georgetown stop would have been built in a very flood prone area near the river).

        • John Fontain

          There has been a long, and I would agrue successful, campaign by Georgetownians to rewrite history and pretend “riff-raff” was not the cause of their opposition.

          “Georgetown isn’t a major employment hub”

          Many of the places in which Metro put stations were not “major employment hubs” at the time the stations were planned and built.

          “a Georgetown stop would have been built in a very flood prone area near the river”

          Strangely enough, the metro actually goes under the river to which you refer and doesn’t flood. Also, the Rosslyn metro station is similarly situated and doesn’t flood. Finally, the metro could have easily run under M Street, which has a significantly higher elevation than the river.

          • bb

            Many of the areas were either transit collection points (from highways), major employment hubs, concentrations of housing, or else just spaced properly. Putting a blue line stop in between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom accomplishes nothing.

            The river floods just below M St quite frequently. I recall just a couple of years ago Blues Alley almost got flooded out. Any metro would be tunneled well below that. Add to that the historic properties in Georgetown, and the tunneling just wouldn’t be worth the effort.


          • Nate

            I used to work in the Foundry Building right below the canal. The building between us and the river (Jefferson Court I believe), flooded several times because the garage entrances were right off of K street below the Whitehurst, facing the river.

            I’m skeptical of Blues Alley ever being close to flooded. That is way up the hill from the river.

      • Gus

        fyi – There is a lot of crime in Georgetown. Riff-raff can take the bus as well.


      • Becoming indifferent

        That’s not true actually. Please read Zachary Schrag’s excellent book on Metro, The Great Society Subway (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). Georgetown was never really considered for several reasons, including geology and the destruction of historical property.

      • Ballstonia

        According to “Arlington’s Smart Growth Journey,” funding that would have gone to build a Georgetown station was instead used to construct Virginia Square.

        Skip ahead to the 20-minute mark at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFHs1_P4qTU.

    • Stating the Obvious

      I think it’s pretty clear what the Orange Line’s effect was on North Arlington: it increased property values exponentially. Crime actually went down after the Orange Line was built. That is not surprising: crime is uncommon in affluent areas.

  • John Fontain

    The video reminds me of the Dharma station orientation films from the tv show “LOST.”

  • South Awwlington

    Unleash the hounds!

  • novasteve

    IS Arlington going to set up some kind of a fund for the funerals and families of the victims of accidents where people would have survived being hit by a bus but not by a streetcar?

    • JimPB

      Your bizarre inquiry is best directed to the ArlCo board.

    • bobco85

      You’re begging the question here (It’s a logical fallacy).. First, you need to prove that buses are safer than streetcars when involved in pedestrian accidents. Only then can you ask about a fund.

      • novasteve

        What do you think is heavier bobco? A bus or a streetcar? Are you going to deny that something on rails, that is heavier than a bus can’t cause MORE damage? It’s simple physics. It’s a freaking train operating on the streets.

        • South Awwlington

          Lithium please. Someone!!!!

        • bobco85

          Again you haven’t proven that streetcars are more dangerous than buses in pedestrian accidents. I agree that streetcars are heavier than buses, but that does not necessarily make them more dangerous. A good question to answer: Do cities that adopt streetcar systems over buses have an increase in pedestrian accidents/fatalities as a direct result?

        • m

          Protip: Pedestrians are not going to fare well getting hit by a bus OR by a streetcar. That isn’t a reason not to have public transit, just as it isn’t a reason to ban cars from Columbia Pike since some of them might hit pedestrians. Pedestrians need to cross at the intersection, with the light, and not go darting across the street in the middle of the block. Stay out of the way of the streetcar and you’ll be fine.

          • South Awwlington


          • novasteve

            If I had to get hit by one over the other, I’d rather get hit by a bus than a train.

  • SteveM

    What a joke. Lets compare the streetcar to heavy rail to make it seem relatively “cheap.” Sorry, at least $250 million, probably close to $500 million, is a waste of money. The hucksters selling this to the county need to come clean about the true cost and the probability of the streetcar being a tax sink.

    • Id

      What is even more scary the County Board was planning on using an increase on commercial space surcharge to maintain the streetcar, but the vacancy rates have gone up in the County. The commercial space rents have priced out the Federal Government. They are hinting to another tax hike on residential property owners. When does the spending stop?

      • SteveM

        Yes, as if higher business taxes are “free” money to play with. If we are going to levy higher taxes for anything, maybe improving utilities, roads, and sewers should be at the front of the line.

      • JohnB

        Your comment is incorrect and misleading on so many levels.

        • Nate

          Elaborate please?

          • JohnB

            Level 1:

            “…using an increase on commercial space surcharge to maintain the streetcar…”

            There’s a grammatical error here that makes it hard to understand what the meaning of the sentence is but I take it to mean “…an increase [of the] commercial space surcharge…” which is false. There is no proposal to increase the surcharge on commercial property to fund streetcar maintenance.

            Level 2:

            “…but but the vacancy rates have gone up in the County. The commercial space rents have priced out the Federal Government.”

            This is supposed to indicate how the additional funding from commercial property won’t be there but it contradicts itself. If rents are too high for the Federal government it means there is enough demand from private lessors that we don’t have to rent to the Federal government. Misleading and confused at best. Not to mention that the assertion that the lease rates are too high for the Feds comes from a quote in the Sun Gazette from Suzanne Smith Sundburg who has commented below and you can see for yourself what my opinion of her opinion is.

            Level 3:

            “They are hinting to another tax hike on residential property owners.”

            “They” in this case refers to the Sun Gazette which ran the same article twice in the same edition (it was also linked to here in one of the morning notes). The only problem with the article is the premise and conclusions…so all of it. They strung some out of context facts together with a narrative that assumes a lot of things I would disagree with and came to a conclusion that the tax BURDEN on residential households would rise. They then confused the issue with their headline so that Id up there thinks the county board is going to raise his tax rates even-though no one in the government or the board has made such a proposal.

            Level 4:

            “When does the spending stop?”

            This statement implies that there is too much spending, but the preceding statements and “evidence” were all about the potential for declining revenue. This implies a view that the County Board will spend the same amount no matter what the economic conditions are which is demonstrably false as the Board cut spending and raised tax rates during the recession to balance the budget.

            Level 5

            The entire statement ignores the fact that there are separate funding mechanisms for the Columbia Pike and Crystal City segments of the line.

          • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

            The GSA’s rent cap has, in fact, made the R-B corridor less desirable for federal tenants. From the Washington Business Journal:

            “In Arlington, for example, Skanska USA Commercial Development Inc. is developing a speculative office building with about 108,000 square feet of office space. Rents there will be in excess of the GSA’s $39-per-square-foot cap, and Skanska Regional Manager Robert Ward said he does not expect to go after federal agencies as tenants.

            “’You’ve got a pretty big differential between what they can pay and some of the deals that have been done here,’ he said. ‘I would say it puts properties closer-in in Arlington at a competitive disadvantage, especially in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.’” http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/print-edition/2012/01/13/general-services-administration-rent.html?page=all

            Arlington also may lose the State Dept. in Rosslyn:

            “[The State Department] also has a number of substantial leases soon to expire in Rosslyn. In that market, in particular, State faces a significant challenge because it occupies two buildings which now rank among the most expensive in Northern Virginia.” http://www.capitolmarkets.com/2012/06/page/3/

            In Ballston, there’s the real threat that Arlington may lose the National Science Foundation due to the GSA rent cap, too.

            These losses come on top of the BRAC vacancies in X-tal City, and Vornado (Chas. E. Smith), the largest landlord there, is struggling:

            “Vornado Realty Trust is a $30 billion New York-based real estate investment trust with a charismatic chairman, Steven Roth, who is trying to reinvigorate the company’s lagging stock price. Schear controls the 20 million-square-foot Washington portfolio, which amounts to about one-quarter of the company.

            “That portion, however, is a matter of considerable focus in New York, largely because the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) has wreaked havoc on the holdings. Government agencies are vacating 2.4 million square feet of Vornado space in Northern Virginia. Roth, in his annual letter to shareholders in April, wrote that he expected BRAC losses to cost the company $1.50 per share. Two research firms downgraded the outlook for Vornado stock in the spring.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/can-arlingtons-crystal-city-become-a-hip-place-to-live/2012/08/03/db061aa2-db16-11e1-9745-d9ae6098d493_story.html

            Abandoning the federal market is fine if (a big if) demand in the private sector continues to be strong. But it’s legitimate to ask how close we are to diminishing returns with respect to replacing lower cost buildings with expensive trophy buildings. At a certain price point, cheaper space elsewhere (like Tysons Corner) will affect demand here in Arlington—particularly with the economy in such a fragile state. Private industry has been and continues to try and lower its leasing costs:

            “Almost every tenant Skanska has signed since 2010 has shared four characterstics, says the firm’s Rob Ward: Relocating from older buildings, leasing fewer square feet for the same number of people, paying an equal or higher rental rate, but lowering their overall real estate spending.” http://www.bisnow.com/dc-real-estate/2012/05/31/this-morning-in-arlington

            Moreover, a good percentage of the “private” sector in Arlington and Northern VA is dependent on federal contracts. Once federal budget cuts hit (in the 3rdQ ’12 or 1stQ ’13), government contractors will be looking to cut expenses even further, if they’re still in business.

            Will the above negatively affect Arlington’s commercial tax revenue? It’s reasonable to think so. And yes, the X-tal City streetcar line is to be funded through a tax increment financing (TIF) zone that utilizes new revenue gained from the redevelopment. Whether that revenue will be enough to support that streetcar line is anybody’s guess. But at least it is a dedicated funding stream that doesn’t—at least in theory—involve cannibalizing existing commercial tax revenue, which is how the Columbia Pike line is to be financed.

            And since the Pike’s streetcar line will use existing commercial tax revenue streams (assuming there is no special surcharge or other tax increase), then the question is which existing programs the county board will cut to finance the now-projected $9 million annual operating costs. After all that revenue is now being spent on something else, right?

            At a certain point, the county will reach diminishing returns in raising commercial taxes; by necessity, businesses will simply fold up and move where rents and taxes are lower. That leaves the county with just one choice for raising revenue: homeowners. Under the circumstances, it would be naive to think that won’t happen.

          • JohnB

            So rents are high which means demand is high relative to supply but you’re opposed to adding new supply? If rents are above the GSA cap why do we have all the empty space? Isn’t reasonable to assume either a) the rents will drop and the space will lease or b) the space will lease to private firms who can afford the price? or c) a mix of the two? Isn’t is possible that the high prices will attract private capital to develop additional supply which will lower the price? Isn’t it weird that Voronado who knows more about commercial real estate than you or me is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Crystal City? Isn’t it possible that Arlington has some built in advantages over the rest of Northern Virginia?

            Now to your articles and oh how you cherry pick. From the first link you completely ignore the fact that the GSA reviews rent caps annually and recently increased the rent cap. The entire article is laced with references to commercial real estate fetching prices higher than the Feds can pay. That’s a good thing!

            Your quote from the next link is the last sentence of an article about who the State Department is and you specifically fail to mention that the article indicates State has a special deal with the GSA to keep their offices in a centralized location. Are they even subject to the cap?

            From the BRAC article:
            “Meanwhile, operating under a new, more dense plan for Crystal City, Schear has begun plotting the future of Vornado’s holdings there. What is now 220 20th St. was Crystal Plaza 2, a gray office building erected in 1969. Vornado ripped off the exterior, added six floors and reopened it in the summer of 2009. One-bedrooms list for between $2,000 and $2,900 a month; two-bedrooms range from $2,800 to $3,500. It is 97 percent leased.

            Next door, Vornado plans a 23-story office tower — what would be the tallest building in Crystal City — to replace the aging and vacant property at 1851 S. Bell St. He signed defense contractor DRS Technologies to a 93,000-square-foot lease at 2345 Crystal Dr. ”

            It’s almost as if Vornado and the County saw BRAC coming and engaged in a robust planning process that integrated land use and transportation infrastructure and community input for a vision of what Crystal City should become and is beginning to execute it.

            Finally, from your BizNow article, directly above what you quoted was this:

            Vornado/Charles E. Smith leasing chief Jim Creedon says his firm plans to renovate 1777 N Kent St (its largest block of available space in the Corridor) and is seeing interest from several private-sector tenants. And he thinks BRAC space coming back to the market won’t significantly lower rents: “It reminds me of when the Patent and Trademark Office left Crystal City—there was concern about rents going down, but it ended up benefitting in the long run.”

            Please stop starting at your conclusion and working backward to find evidence to support it.

          • Nate

            And you know for a fact the county never considered raising the commercial rate for the transportation capital fund to offset reduced revenues. Uh huh.

          • JohnB

            I reject your assumption that there is an expectation that commercial property values will decline. I know that a rate increase hasn’t been discussed publicly by the board and that there is a dedicated funding source for the Crystal City segment of the line so it would be illogical to assume that an increase was under consideration and misleading to state it publicly. What would be a logical and fair statement would be to say,

            “If the commercial property values do not increase as anticipated the dedicated funding source for the Crystal City segment would not be enough to build and maintain the system. In this hypothetical scenario it is possible that the Board could raise rates on residential or commercial property to cover the shortfall or they could take numerous other actions to balance revenues with expenditures like cutting expenditures on other transportation spending or other services.”

            Of course that statement would be less likely to cause the uniformed reader to fear and oppose the Streetcar.

          • Nate

            I don’t think they are allowed to raise the rate on either residential or commercial. They have to be the same rate I think.

            And the transportation fund has seen year-to-year decreases in the revenues from commercial property as recently as just last year. I am entirely justified in assuming that there could be future declines in the revenue stream. That would need to be offset with any of the tools available to the county. We all know what the basic equation is and they control both variables to one extent or the other.

  • In before 200+ comments

  • YTK

    PROPAGANDA!!! Is this on YouTube? Let’s give it a million THUMBS DOWN!

    • South Awwlington

      Thanks for bringing to light the every present monkey wrench idea. The rest of us will give thumbs up!

      • YTK

        I’m in Aww of your comment

  • JamesE

    This video makes me feel so much better about the personal property tax bill I just received.

  • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

    The form-based code is already spurring development along the Pike. The county doesn’t need to spend $250+ million to spur development.

    If you want to relieve traffic congestion along the Pike, adding more density (and thus more people) is self-defeating. The Pike was designed to handle the amount of traffic generated by existing density, and its capacity is finite (especially now that the county has committed to allowing developers to build right up to the street).

    And if you believe the county’s fairytale about density not adding to traffic congestion, read this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/walter-reed-traffic-study-refuted-by-daily-misery-on-the-roads-experts-say/2012/08/06/ce93981e-d687-11e1-a0cc-8954acd5f90c_story.html

    Even if 60% of new residents use mass transit (the county’s wildly unrealistic projection), that leaves the other 40% adding to already congested Pike traffic. The upshot is that you can’t put 10 lbs of sugar in a 5 lb bag and expect a good result. The streetcar will be sitting in the same traffic and stopping at the same lights as every other vehicle on the Pike. It cannot maneuver around a stopped UPS delivery truck, for example. And when a streetcar breaks down or loses power, it will obstruct a lane and won’t be easy to tow.

    As for the “one-seat” ride, it all depends on whether someone could reasonably expect to find a seat. According to the Falls Church News Press (http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/local/12311-ourman223.html), streetcars actually seat only 29 people; the other 86 people have to stand. An articulated bus, on the other hand, provides 60 seats, with the ability to hold another 34 standing passengers.

    I don’t object to streetcars as a means of mass transit, but it’s not a magic carpet and it cannot alter the laws of physics. The Pike simply isn’t a suitable site for a streetcar line. And the all the county board’s wishful thinking won’t change that … any more than it has made the Artisphere a successful venue.

    • Neighbor

      Way to ignore the other points in that Falls Church News Press article. Namely, that it’s been proven time and again that a lot of people simply will not ride a bus (which is not a “right or wrong” argument) AND streetcars have been wildly popular every place they’re introduced. A

    • Josh S

      Your analysis contains some points that seem intuitively right, but reality actually turns out differently.

      You talk about density along the Pike. If all you were doing is building apartment buildings, your analysis might be right. But this is the whole point of adding mixed-use buildings. Before the Giant at Penrose Square was built, I used to get in my car to go grocery shopping. Now I can walk. Etc. Etc. Etc.

      In addition, if you add all these people on the Pike, you have to add transit to avoid massive increases in congestion. Witness the R-B corridor, which saw population increase significantly from 1990-2010, but where the car traffic did not increase anywhere near as much. Why? Transit and mixed use. People don’t have to drive so they don’t.

      And you can’t stop population growth. It will happen, like it or not. It’s actually better for regional traffic and pollution and health reasons to concentrate the growth.

    • JohnB

      Your arguments are silly.

      “The form-based code is already spurring development along the Pike. The county doesn’t need to spend $250+ million to spur development.”

      The form-based code was in place for 2 years prior to the county board selecting the street car as the transportation investment it wanted to make in 2005 and approximately 0 projects were initiated between 2003 and 2005. You need both the land use planning (form based code) and the transportation investment to catalyze development. And the county isn’t spending $250 million plus as you well know but continue to ignore in all of your comments here and in Sun Gazette articles.

      “If you want to relieve traffic congestion along the Pike, adding more density (and thus more people) is self-defeating.”

      If you want to relieve traffic congestion you need to get more people out of their cars.

      The Pike was designed to handle the amount of traffic generated by existing density, and its capacity is finite (especially now that the county has committed to allowing developers to build right up to the street).”

      This is false. The Pike is over capacity. It was designed for automobile traffic and much less of it. It’s capacity is finite, but it can be greatly increased by doing several things. 1 – reducing curb cuts so that there are fewer places for vehicles to enter and exit the road. Fewer conflicts from turning vehicles means the vehicle traffic on the Pike will flow smoother and it’s capacity will increase. 2 – normalize lane widths to allow for a center turn late to reduce lane blockages from vehicles turning left which will increase the Pike’s capacity. 3 – rebuild the public space adjacent to the pike to encourage pedestrian traffic which will increase the Pike’s person capacity, just not it’s vehicle capacity. 4 – add transit vehicles which move people more efficiently than private automobiles and will increase the Pike’s person capacity, not it’s vehicle capacity. Numbers 1 and 3 require the economic incentive of increased density to lure private capital to provide these social goods. You’re worried about building right up to the street but the only thing between the sidewalk and the building before the development happened was a parking lot that encouraged people to drive and add to congestion.

      “And if you believe the county’s fairytale about density not adding to traffic congestion, read this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/walter-reed-traffic-study-refuted-by-daily-misery-on-the-roads-experts-say/2012/08/06/ce93981e-d687-11e1-a0cc-8954acd5f90c_story.html

      This article is a perfect example of how failing to unite land use and transportation infrastructure planning leads to a failure and is not a reasonable comparison to the planning process surrounding the Columbia Pike Initiative.

      “According to the Falls Church News Press (http://www.fcnp.com/commentary/local/12311-ourman223.html)”

      Actually this is an opinion piece so it’s not really according to the Falls Church News Press.

      “I don’t object to streetcars as a means of mass transit, but it’s not a magic carpet and it cannot alter the laws of physics.”

      From all of your objecting to the Streetcar I have deduced that your grasp of the laws of Physics is tenuous at best.

      “The Pike simply isn’t a suitable site for a streetcar line.”

      Actually it is an ideal candidate. It is already a heavily traveled corridor with very high transit usage. Where else would you put one? In the middle of nowhere? On a route without any demonstrated transit demand?

      Just because YOU don’t want the Pike to change doesn’t mean its not going to change. It will. I believe the Streetcar will help drive the change into a form that we prefer instead of haphazard sprawl on the outskirts of the urban area that will only lead to more people from outside the beltway complaining that Arlington won’t let them pave us over so they can get to their jobs in DC. I can hear them now:

      “Let’s just bulldoze those [email protected] strip malls and add in three extra lanes? There’s too much congestion and extra lanes is the only way to fix it!”

      Sorry, but I’d rather not.

      • South Awwlington

        JohnB = Score!


      • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

        Thanks for your feedback. It’s always interesting to see what others think.

        Here are my responses:

        1) The form-based code was key to the redevelopment process. It certainly wasn’t the only factor but it was the trigger. Approximately 1,000 luxury housing units have been added to the Pike since the form-based code was instituted. The problem with mixed-use development is that the housing component is usually much, much larger than the commercial component. And as a general rule of thumb, residences cost a municipality more revenue than they bring in. Whereas commercial space typically brings in more revenue than it costs.

        2) Here I quote from The Washington Post: “The cost of building a streetcar line jumped in the most recent estimate by $100 million to about $250 million, and a recent study by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority showed that a route using extra-long buses could carry about the same number of people at about the same speed for about $200 million less to build.” But there are numerous references to the $250 million cost, including here on ARLnow.com. See http://www.arlnow.com/2011/12/02/developing-pike-streetcar-cost-soars/

        3) I agree that the correct solution to the problem would be to get people out of their cars. I disagree that the extra $200 million in cost for the streetcar is justified when the articulate bus alternative produces a similar outcome at a much lower cost. The fact that people say they’d rather travel on a streetcar in a survey doesn’t actually translate into their using the streetcar, the bus, or any other kinds of mass transit. People use the mode of transportation that works best for them. The streetcar will be no faster than the bus and has less available seating. Much of the Pike’s traffic originates from outside Arlington. Folks who are coming from places like Annandale and are headed to X-tal City or the Pentagon for work. You’re not going to get them on the streetcar unless you ban cars from Columbia Pike. The existing bus line, however, is very popular. According to the Post and other sources, it is one of the most heavily used bus routes in Northern VA. That sounds like success to me.

        4) Comparisons between the R-B corridor with underground Metrorail and the Pike with the streetcar are invalid. Metrorail added capacity below the existing surface street. The streetcar simply adds to the mix on the existing surface street, which as you’ve noted is already congested. If the streetcar lures some folks out of their cars, it would be great, but any reduction there will be offset by vehicles from the increased residential density. The truth is that a majority of people living in this county—even those reasonably close to mass transit—still don’t take it to work every day. I live in a neighborhood approximately 1 mile from Metrorail, and according to census and other data, approx. 70% of residents still drive (alone) to work every day. That tracks with what I’m seeing out on the street.

        5) As far as the number of streetcar seats are concerned, DC residents have been having this same discussion. See http://www.scribd.com/doc/87719574/DC-Streetcar-Design-Criteria-January-2012 for the number of seats in DC’s streetcars—approximately 30 seats. From PikeTransit.com: “Capacity is defined as the “comfortable standing load” for a transit vehicle, which is measured using the ratio of total passengers on board (sitting plus standing) to the number of seats on the bus. WMATA uses a ratio of 1.2 to estimate comfortable standing load, which translates into capacities of 63 passengers on a 43-foot bus, 94 passengers on a 60-foot bus, and 35 passengers on a 35-foot ART bus. The comparable load for a streetcar vehicle is 115 passengers (4 passengers per square meter).” See http://www.piketransit.com/downloads/may2012/VolumeII/3%20-%20Transportation%20Conditions.pdf

        In short, streetcars have more standing room and fewer seats than buses. The Columbia Pike streetcars will have more doors for faster loading, which reduces the available space for seating.

        6) You’re right about my limited grasp of physics. But here on Earth, two solid objects cannot occupy the same space simultaneously. As you’ve already noted the Pike is already beyond capacity, so either streetcars or more buses will add to that existing congestion.

        7) If the county had chosen to increase building setbacks along the Pike, then there might have been room to install dedicated lanes for the streetcar line, which would, in fact, have increased the Pike’s capacity. And then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        Ad hominem attacks don’t dispel inconvenient facts. Streetcars aren’t always the best or most cost-effective solution. That’s not just my personal opinion but one also shared by public transit planning consultant Jarrett Walker:

        “Most important, I’m not saying in the abstract that streetcars are good or bad. I’m saying that they are a major capital expense that requires a justification other than mobility (“getting people where they’re going fast and efficiently”) when we compare them to the bus routes they replace, or that could be developed instead.” See http://www.humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html

        Montgomery County decided that bus rapid transit was a better deal than light rail/streetcars for their situation. And I don’t consider their reasoning “silly” simply because I may or may not have disagreed with their conclusion.

        • JohnB

          1 – I never said the Form Based code wasn’t key to the redevelopment, only that it was insufficient. It was the combination of the Form Based code and the commitment to build a Streetcar that sparked the development. One would have been a failure without the other. If the county had selected enhanced bus service, the development wouldn’t have happened. My evidence for this assertion is the lack of projects that were initiated between 2003 and 2005 when the form based code was in place and the pike ride service was ramping up.

          “And as a general rule of thumb, residences cost a municipality more revenue than they bring in. Whereas commercial space typically brings in more revenue than it costs.”

          Source please?

          2 – In your initial statement “The county doesn’t need to spend $250+ million to spur development” is misleading as the county isn’t footing the whole bill and you should know that.

          3 – “I disagree that the extra $200 million in cost for the streetcar is justified when the articulate bus alternative produces a similar outcome at a much lower cost.”

          Here is the crux of the argument. The Streetcar and articulated bus alternative DO NOT produce similar outcomes. The articulated bus will have lower capacity. Some would modify ‘lower’ with the adverb ‘slightly’, but it is lower none the less. If the differences in outcome stopped there I would be on your side of the argument but they do not. First, it has been widely documented that there is a mode preference for rail in mixed lanes over bus in mixed lanes all else being equal. This is not opinion. This is observable fact. A higher percentage of the trips in the corridor will be taken by streetcar than would be taken by bus which will result in room for more cars and a higher total capacity of the road which will benefit all users of Columbia Pike, not just transit riders. Second, fixed rail investment will attract private capital and articulated buses will not. This private capital is needed to rebuild the private land and improvements adjacent to the public rite of way in a form that creates the neighborhood we want to live in. If you don’t want the neighborhood that the Form Based Code will deliver, that is a different argument, but to say that articulated buses will deliver it just as quickly is silly.

          4 – I didn’t compare the streetcar to the R-B corridor, but you reveal something telling: “I live in a neighborhood approximately 1 mile from Metrorail” So you don’t use transit? No kidding. We already know that most rail riders come from within 1/4 mile of the station aka a 15 minute walk.

          “according to census and other data, approx. 70% of residents still drive (alone) to work every day”

          How granular are you getting? Down to the census tract?

          5 – I’d rather stand on a rail vehicle than sit on a bus.

          6 – Except way more people can fit into the same about of lane if they are on a transit vehicle so getting more people into vehicles will mean space for more cars. And yes, it won’t look like it got any better because more cars will just fill up the extra space but in reality the road will be moving an extra 10,000 people a day:


          7 – If the county had chosen to increase building setbacks along the Pike not a single property owner would have utilized the Form Based Code. The only way to get the additional right of way was to buy it and that would have been WAY more expensive.

          I don’t believe I’ve engaged in ad hominem attacks. I have attempted to attack your arguments because I believe they are ill informed and misguided. I agree with Mr. Walker but I believe that this investment has been justified. Montgomery County actually has space to put in dedicated right of ways for most of the system. In that case I would go with a BRT as well, but that is not the case on Columbia Pike.

          If you don’t like the vision for the Pike we can have that debate, but if you think the articulated buses will deliver that vision equally then you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Chuck Biscuits

            Second, fixed rail investment will attract private capital and articulated buses will not.


          • JohnB

            If the county had selected enhanced bus service, the development wouldn’t have happened. My evidence for this assertion is the lack of projects that were initiated between 2003 and 2005 when the form based code was in place and the pike ride service was ramping up.

          • Chuck Biscuits

            Articulated buses were never proposed, so you can not make the claim that they will not attract private capital.

            Put another way, if Arlington was putting the marketing effort behind articulated buses that they are putting behind the streetcar, including years of committees and studies of development opportunities along Columbia Pike, you can not say with any certainty that no private capital would have been attracted to Columbia Pike.

          • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

            It’s interesting you don’t consider calling someone “silly” and saying “you just don’t know what you’re talking about” ad hominem arguments.

            1) Can you quote a particular Pike commercial property owner or a developer who has publicly admitted that he/she would not have redeveloped his/her property without the streetcar line being planned? After all, until recently the streetcar was not a sure thing. And because a healthy portion of the construction funding depends on state and federal largesse—at a time when federal and state budgets are about to experience significant cuts—I’d say that the Pike’s streetcar line still isn’t a sure thing. And yet, those developers just keep building anyway.

            As far as the use of services is concerned, you need need only look at the county’s most recent budget. Nearly 50% of all revenues are allocated to the school system, a public service that directly benefits residents. (Although one could argue the long-term societal benefit that businesses gain from children being educated.) Arlington’s per-pupil cost has been hovering around $19,000 annually. And there aren’t many of us who are paying $19K or more each year in property taxes. And schools are just one public service. There’s the cost for libraries, affordable housing, parks and recreation, etc., all of which primarily benefit residents rather than businesses. According to the head of Arlington’s Economic Development Office, Terry Holzheimer, hotels give us the best bang for the buck because they utilize so few county services.

            If you want to see some studies demonstrating the premise, look at the study for Vancouver (p. 103) here: http://books.google.com/books?id=MqtGJSWsDyMC&pg=PA103&lpg=PA103&dq=residential+and+nonresidential:+percentage+of+municipal+services+consumed&source=bl&ots=yVTiWFe_FG&sig=KeqF46rC3cgPkiX3z8yetXYb5Vs&sa=X&ei=pwo0UKTtCMrq0gGm84D4DA&ved=0CCIQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=residential%20and%20nonresidential%3A%20percentage%20of%20municipal%20services%20consumed&f=false

            And there’s a similar study for Vancouver (p. 5) here: http://fairtaxcoalition.com/pdf/Municipal-Sustainability-Model-2009-11-23.pdf

            2) No the county isn’t footing the whole $250 million. Fairfax is paying a smaller share, and the rest relies on the largesse of the state and federal governments. Which may be kind of tricky considering that deep federal government budget cuts are in the offing (sequestration or targeted cuts).

            According to Bacon’s Rebellion (which quotes the Report of the State Budget Crisis Task Force):

            “Virginia, with its dependence on defense procurement and its cadre of federal workers and retirees, is at particular risk. … Total direct federal spending per capita in Virginia – including procurement, wages, retirement, and other spending – is 60 percent above the national average and accounts for about 32 percent of Virginia’s gross state product. Among the study states, Virginia ranks first in federal procurement, which makes up more than 13 percent of its state GDP; federal salaries and wages constitute approximately five percent of state GDP.” http://www.baconsrebellion.com/2012/08/boomergeddon-in-virginia-federal-cutbacks.html and http://www.statebudgetcrisis.org/wpcms/wp-content/images/Report-of-the-State-Budget-Crisis-Task-Force-Full.pdf

            Arlington will be better off than most localities (we take proportionately less money from the state), but the state will still be grappling with a huge budget shortfall. In short, federal and state funding cannot be counted on.

            At the June Civic Federation meeting, a delegate asked Arlington’s budget and finance director, Michelle Cowan, what would happen if state and/or federal financing didn’t come through. She implied that the county would instead plunder funds from the proposed transportation bond (marketed as the funds that will be used to pave our roads!) if there was a shortfall in state/federal funding.

            It’s safe to say that Arlington taxpayers will be absorbing the lion’s share of the Pike streetcar line’s construction and startup costs, an amount that would still be much larger than the cost of the articulated bus option.

            3) The biggest cost to “rebuild the private land and improvements adjacent to the public rite of way” will be to accommodate the streetcar line. Without that cost, the need for private investment would be substantially reduced. And yes, just like the articulated bus, the streetcar does reduce the number of additional cars on the road that would otherwise result from the increase in residential density. The problem is, as you helpfully pointed out, that Columbia Pike is already beyond capacity as far as traffic is concerned. No matter which transit mode is selected, it won’t solve that pre-existing problem. So why pay $200 million for the more expensive option when either would be inadequate from the start?

            4) Yes I use both Metrorail and the bus on a regular basis, but there are very few people in my neighborhood who make the 1-mile trek. And yes, I do a lot of research so I look at things like census track data to inform my opinions.

            5) Whether I’m taking the bus or Metrorail, I prefer to sit. Having read about all the complaints to Metrorail when it proposed removing seats, I seem to have a lot of company in my preference.

            6) Yes, I have used the same graphic in white papers, etc. I understand the logic and reasoning. But with the increased density, neither buses nor streetcars will be able to adequately resolve the capacity problem.

            7) Yes, my problem is with the “vision” or lack thereof in the form-based code and the land use planning for Columbia Pike. Loading up the Pike with density that its infrastructure can’t support doesn’t make a lot of sense—unless you’re a developer, of course. Developers reap the short-term profits that come with upzoning and upGLUPing a property, leaving the massive long-term expenses and obligations for Arlington taxpayers to shoulder. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That’s how the big banks made a killing before the crash. Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

          • JohnB

            I’ll respond to number 7: If we don’t agree on the vision for the Pike then the rest of the argument is moot. Of course if you don’t want to increase density and rebuild the form and function of the Pike into a multi-use walkable corridor then it is perfectly logical to support Articulated Buses over the Streetcar because they move almost as many people for a lot less money. The problem I have with that is I don’t only care about moving those people through my neighborhood to their jobs. I also care about my neighborhood developing into something even better than it is, and unique from R-B, Shirlington, Pentagon City, or Crystal City. I care about concentrating development close to the core and oriented to high quality transit so that money doesn’t go to grade a pasture or clear cut a forest in Warrenton and throw up track housing. I care about creating a neighborhood where people can live, work, shop, and recreate without ever getting into a car because it’s a more sustainable form of development and a much nicer way to live.

          • JohnB

            Oh, and I didn’t call you silly. I called your arguments silly. And I didn’t say you didn’t know what you were talking about.

            I said “If you don’t like the vision for the Pike we can have that debate, but if you think the articulated buses will deliver that vision equally then you just don’t know what you’re talking about.”

            Seems to me like I accurately determine that you didn’t like the vision for the Pike and that you know full well that the Streetcar will cause that to happen.

        • Josh S

          Fascinating. Like talking to a brick wall.

  • Oslo

    This looks awesome. Can’t wait.

    • Id

      Good. You can ride it up and down Columbia Pike. Back and forth, back and forth.

      • YTK

        Until you go crazy. Or stop to refuel at Eamonn’s.

  • CP Neighbor

    I wonder if anyone on the county board ever reads these threads. (smirks)

    If I hadn’t lived in this area for so long, I couldn’t have believed how blinded by vanity a group of officials could be to force something this unwanted and opposed on their constituents. Almost makes DC city government look competent.

    • Josh S

      Perhaps you should widen your circle?

      There are certainly vocal opponents, but plenty of people in the county are all for it.

      • CP Neighbor

        My circle is plenty wide. And the supporters I know are all North Arlingtonians. All my Southern neighbors hate the idea.

        The point is that South Arlington residents are continually disrespected.

        • South Awwlington

          Hold on there partner…what idea is it I hate and that you are oh so quick to speak for me on?

          I have been long awaiting the Streetcar as many, many, many of the posters on ARLnow have also (those the actually fess up to the neighborhood they live in.)

          I will say this — MOST of the anti-streetcar rants I have read have come from folks who do not live on Columbia Pike. How do I know this? By reading other threads here and on other boards when the same folks, posting under the same name are discussing other issues that directly affect their neighborhoods (see the post on today’s ARLnow about Lyon Park for an example).

          I will own up to living at Columbia Pike and Dinwiddie and yes my life will be directly affect by the Streetcar. I may also be slightly inconvenienced during constructions — and I’ll live to tell about it.

          • JohnB

            +1. I live in Alcova and I’m all in favor and I watched the board hearing on approving the Streetcar alternative for the FTA grant application and there were numerous local speakers who were in favor.

          • FrenchyB

            Count me as a Pike resident in favor of the streetcar as well.

        • Josh S

          The point is that in Arlington, no one is well enough connected to be able to speak for the public as a whole as you claimed to do in your original post.

          The streetcar will be a regional amenity. Not a neighborhood one. The opinions of you and your neighbors are no more valid than of those in North Arlington, other neighborhoods in South Arlington, Skyline residents, Alexandria residents, etc., etc.

    • Glebe Roader

      Many of the people who post on these threads are anti-everything. It doesn’t matter what it is, they are against it and know a better way.

      There are plenty of folks who live in both South and North Arlington who are for it. Some people just don’t believe they have to answer every “It’s bad” on a blog site with “It’s good.”

  • BRT Fan

    I think Suzanne had it right with her comment, “The streetcar will be sitting in the same traffic and stopping at the same lights as every other vehicle on the Pike. It cannot maneuver around a stopped UPS delivery truck, for example. And when a streetcar breaks down or loses power, it will obstruct a lane and won’t be easy to tow.”

    Streetcars will do nothing but add to the congestion on Columbia Pike!

    The better option is definitely bus rapid transit (BRT) using articulated buses. BRT works very differently from your traditional bus lines, which I think many of the above comments are referring to. People hear the word ‘bus’ and negative thoughts come to mind, but BRT looks more like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Doppelgelenkbus_01_KMJ.jpg

    BRT buses travel in their own dedicated lane, shuttling riders more quickly and cost-efficiently than a street car ever could. If you want to see how BRT has worked out in another city recently, check out this article: http://stocktoncitylimits.com/2012/08/07/the-modern-street-car-how-bus-rapid-transit-in-stockton-efficiently-improves-public-transportation-and-spurs-economic-development-part-1/

    • Bill

      Earlier this summer a Metro bus broke down on Glebe and blocked one of the two southbound right lanes. I was stuck in heavy traffic trying to merge into the left of the two lanes. So I don’t understand all this talk of streetcars breaking down and how much better buses are in this respect. Does anyone have stats from other streetcar systems showing the frequency of breakdowns? And where on Columbia Pike are you going to fit the “dedicated BRT lanes?” And if not in dedicated lanes, are you telling me BRT buses are easier to tow when they breakdown? Because it seems to take a pretty long time to tow the current buses when they breakdown and block a lane.

    • Alien Technology

      They employ alien technology to decompose and then reconstitute on the other side of the blockage….I guess that you didn’t read the announcement.

      • Bill


    • JohnB

      BRT Fan,

      I would be VERY happy if we could have a dedicated lane for transit, either rubber tire or steel track, but that would require significant right of way acquisition and would send the costs skyrocketing.

    • Josh S

      What is this fixation with streetcars breaking down? This “argument” of the antis just completely and totally perplexes me.

      Do buses not break down and/or block lanes?

      Do other vehicles not break down and/or block lanes?

      What is the percentage of streetcar trips that will result in a complete breakdown of the streetcar? Is that a significant percentage? (The answer is no, by the way.)

      What percentage of your trips up and down Columbia Pike have ever included significant delays because of ANY KIND of blockage in the road, caused a vehicle or anything else?

      Why must you fret about this? If you are opposed to the streetcar, I plead with you, please find a real reason to be opposed to it and stick with that. Worrying about imaginary blockages is just a waste of your time. There are other, more reasonable reasons to be opposed – it costs too much, it won’t significantly increase the throughput of people along the Pike, uh, uh, well, I’m drawing a blank now, but I’m sure there are others. Glom onto those and run with them – you might even convince someone to change their mind. But you’ll never, ever, ever convince anyone to change their mind because you are worried they’re gonna break down too frequently.

  • McChipstah

    ••• ala Amsterdam, I can’t wait for the first coffee shop to open up on CP… nothing beats riding a streetcar stoned outta your gourd mon! •••

  • craig

    LMFAO that area will house 37,000 jobs and 21,000 residents by 2040…..2040! That is 30 years from now! Will these stupid streetcars even be relevant then? Just is just a big colossal waste of money.

    We’re probably going to be teleporting in 2040 not riding the stupid streetcar across town!

    Art/Metro BUS yes,
    teleport yes,
    street car no

    • Josh S

      Ahhh, youth!

  • Thes

    I was ok with this video until the end, when they misused the word “backslash”. This is a backslash: ” \ ” This is a FORWARD slash: ” / ”


    • Not so fast my friend…


  • Pike Dweller

    I’m so excited for the streetcar! I can picture it now… instead of driving to another neighborhood for Date Night, my husband and I will hop on the streetcar to some restaurant/pub on the Pike, catch a show @ the Drafthouse, then roll back home again, no designated driver, no paying for parking in some boring garage. Maybe grab some froyo for dessert. Sure, we could do that now on the bus, BUT WE DON’T. Yes, I’m one of those “won’t ride a bus, but would ride a streetcar” people. There are many of us.

    I might even try commuting to DC on it (via PC Metro)! Would be nice to stop paying for my downtown parking spot!

    Yet Another Pike Homeowner in Favor of the Streetcar

    • Bill

      Exactly! Same here.

    • Marie Antoinette

      So if I understand you correctly Pike Dweller, the rest of Arlington County has to bankroll the Folly Trolly because you are a snob?

      • Josh S

        You’ve been feeding at the Karl Rove trough, I see. Everyone for themself. Zero sum game. I got mine, don’t worry about his. Etc. Etc.

        There are other ways of viewing the world, did you know that?

        • Marie Antoinette

          Yes Pike Dweller, exactly what Josh S said!

          • Josh S

            Surely you recognize the irony (!) of someone calling themselves Marie Antoinette accusing someone else of being a snob.

  • Marie Antoinette

    The most comical aspect of the Folly Trolly (besides the Arlington Ministry of Propaganda’s taxpayer funded video) is that the Board actually believes that Richmond will give funding. You heard it here first, folks!

    Not as long as Fisette, et al. are still in charge. Suing State and Federal officials in their personal capacity, re: HOT lane, was just about the dumbest thing possible.

  • chimichanga

    I just got back from Europe, wife saved my life pulling me back from stepping into street in front of a street car. They are much quiter than buses and cars. You dont need such sn additional liability.

  • Dodge

    I like the idea of the streetcar. Cool project.

  • Ashley Wilkes

    Yes, buses are cheaper and the routes more flexible. But the whole point of a streetcar system is that the routes AREN’T flexible. Real estate development and planning can occur around a fixed route – in ways that make sense and don’t waste land. How many people do you know that will pay a premium to be 2 blocks from a bus stop that may or may not be there a year from now? I mean cars provide even more flexibility than buses, but look how well decades of development around THAT system have worked out.


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