For Immediate Release
Tues. September 23, 2014

Independent Arlington County Board Member John Vihstadt today sharply criticized the County Board?s 3-2 vote to award a $26 million contract to HDR Engineering, Inc., for the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects. Vihstadt was joined by Democratic colleague Libby Garvey in voting against the contract.

Vihstadt said that ?the board majority is playing that old quiz show game ?Beat the Clock? in trying to rush the signing of various streetcar contracts and agreements before the streetcar’s low popularity sinks even further, and before the Nov. 4 county board election. They want to feed the narrative that the streetcar is a ?done deal? and that it is too late to turn back.?

Vihstadt added: ?But the fact is that, according to the county’s own timeline, even the preliminary engineering work authorized by this HDR Agreement will not be done until the second quarter of 2016. Plus, actual construction won’t begin until the second quarter of 2018 – two years later – and start of service is projected to begin in the second quarter of 2020 ? two years later still.

The candidate noted that despite the county board majority’s ?desire to continue to sink millions more on a project that would be a fiscal and transit albatross for Arlington for decades to come, this 7.4-mile project with a cost of $500,000,000 is a long way from being a done deal. In fact, it’s still in the mixing bowl and not yet in the oven, let alone baked.?

?It is time to implement a form of bus rapid transit or ?BRT? along the Pike as we are already doing in the Route 1 corridor and as other jurisdictions like Montgomery County are as well,? Vihstadt said. ?BRT can be implemented more quickly, at a fraction of the cost, with better regional connectivity, comparable capacity and economic development benefits, and with less disruption and inconvenience to residents, business and commuters alike than the streetcar.?

According to the County Board Report, the total contract authorization is $26,003,721, which includes over $5.3 million in “optional” tasks (e.g., “outreach” materials and public art integration) and a 15% “contingency” of $2.7 million for the base work should it be needed.

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Source documents:

  1. Arlington County Board Agenda Item 59.A. Staff Report (9-16-14)

 

For more information contact: Joe Junod, 703-237-6734