The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Next Wednesday evening, March 27, our County Board will tell us how they plan to move the Columbia Pike streetcar plan forward. The Board is refusing to allow for a full vetting of opposing views, and it remains to be seen if they will take unscripted questions. If you can get the microphone, here are some things you should question:
1) Will there be a dedicated lane for the trolley?
The answer, of course, is no. So, if a trolley breaks down during rush hour it will block traffic and cannot simply be moved onto a side street. Conversely, if a car breaks down in the trolley lane, the trolley cannot move around it.
2) Will buses still run on Columbia Pike?
Yes. The trolley will not replace buses altogether. In fact, if you want to go directly to the Pentagon, a bus will likely be your better choice. And, during rush hour, trolleys will likely be slowed by buses in front of them.
3) Are trolleys safe?
This is an open question. There are reports of these vehicles being knocked 25 feet off its rails by a vehicle the size of a small SUV.
4) Why did the county quickly move to consider a public-private partnership approach?
Most likely to avoid a public vote on a bond. The Board has indicated zero willingness to put this $250 million (a low estimate) project before the voters in any way, shape, or form. Under the public-private partnership model, the Board can allow private entities to put together the financing and avoid a public vote on a bond altogether. In exchange, Arlington would contribute a hefty down payment and sign a long-term contract to pay for the rest.
5) Why did the County Board never debate the merits of using bigger buses that have multiple entry doors and the ability to have curb level entry?
These buses could be done at approximately one-fifth the cost. In fact, if you look at the 2012 study on this very question, the buses would cost $193.2 million less up front, and $2.19 million less per year less for an ongoing annual subsidy. The same study estimates that just four percent more people would ride the trolley versus the bus. If you do a quick estimate, that means each additional rider costs the taxpayers about $175,000 up front, and $2,000 more per year.
There are many other questions that could be asked, from the likelihood of cost overruns, to the impact on existing businesses on the Pike, to playing hide the ball on a recent FOIA request, to bicycle safety, to the impact of Alexandria’s decision to scrap its light rail plans.
Even if the Board does not intend to take public input, those with an interest in the outcome should come to Kenmore Middle School and make their presence known.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
In Green Valley, resident Portia Clark says she and her neighbors are bombarded with calls and letters from realtors and potential investors about buying their homes. “We were once a…
Don’t forget to sign up for the 2023 Winter Leagues with DC Fray that include soccer, cornhole and more.
Crime doesn’t pay, the saying goes, and that is particularly true if you get punched during a failed robbery attempt. According to Arlington County police, that’s what happened early this…
Small Business Focus spotlights the Shop Local Winter Bazaar taking place Dec. 17-18 with over 100 local vendors to shop from.
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Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns
Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.
Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!
Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration
Experience the festival of lights!!
*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah