Friday, July 11?ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA–Arlington County Board Member John Vihstadt today blasted an award of state streetcar funding with a nearly simultaneous County announcement that it would forgo federal funding.
?In committing state funds of ?up to? $65 million for the $333 million, 4.9 mile Columbia Pike Streetcar just one month to the day after receiving a joint request by Arlington and Fairfax Counties, it is clear that the Commonwealth of Virginia Transportation Department rushed to judgment and failed to perform the independent due diligence expected of a state agency to fully analyze this ill-advised local government request,? said Vihstadt.
?In fact, in justifying the State?s decision, State Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne’s letter merely repeats the very statistics and rationale put forth by the two counties weeks earlier on June 10. Had the Commonwealth done its homework, it would have learned that a modified form of bus rapid transit could be implemented much more cheaply, more quickly, with greater regional connectivity, better flexibility, less disruption and with comparable comfort, capacity and economic development benefits, ? continued Vihstadt. (See as background resource: www.sensibletransit.org)
?Instead, many valuable transportation projects for which there is a broad public consensus, ranging from improved Metro and bus service to road and pedestrian safety enhancements, will be sacrificed for this controversial project that has deeply divided Arlington County and contributed heavily to my election on April 8 as the first non-Democrat to the County Board since 1999.?
Vihstadt concluded that ?the Arlington County Manager?s new recommendation to give up the prospect of hundreds of millions in federal funding (which was to have financed up to half the Pike streetcar cost) and instead bridge most of the gap through a combination of regional transportation funding and local commercial real estate tax revenues, would lead to an escalating tax burden on Arlington residents and businesses alike for both initial construction costs and ongoing annual operating subsidies for decades to come.?
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1. July 10, 2014 letter from Aubrey L. Layne, Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth of Virginia, to Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova
2. July 11, 2014 Arlington County Media Release (?Commonwealth to Provide??)