Streams

Arlington Backing out of Transit Funding Deal

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 02:24 PM

(Washington, DC -- Michael Pope, WAMU) Leaders in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in the Washington, DC suburbs  are moving in different directions along a high-capacity transit corridor on U.S. Route 1, and it's causing some tension among lawmakers in Alexandria.

Two years ago, Arlington asked Alexandria to join an environmental analysis for the Crystal City-Potomac Yard transit corridor. Arlington would pay $2.4 million, and Alexandria would add $1 million. Together, the neighboring jurisdictions would save money by combining efforts. Now, Arlington County is backing out of the deal, leaving Alexandria holding the bag.

"I think in fairness, Arlington should have had the courtesy of saying, 'Let's have a sit-down talk about where we are, what our dilemmas are, what our challengers are,'" says Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. "That hasn't happened.”

Euille is now calling for a joint meeting between members of the Arlington County Board and Alexandria City Council to discuss the future of the transit corridor. At issue is $40-120 million worth of federal funds, which city officials say would be jeopardized without the study.

"If we are going to continue on this alternative, I think Arlington definitely needs to be on board because they've kind of gotten us to this point, and they can’t just walk away," says Alexandria Council member Frank Fannon.

Alexandria Council member Alicia Hughes agrees.

"I think that it is a show of bad faith on the part of the Arlington County Board to have come to the city of Alexandria and ask us enter something with them, and now that we've done it and it's time to take the next step, lo and behold it's like if you looked under a rock you could not find them," Hughes says.

Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes did not return phone calls, although she issued a written statement along with Mayor Euille saying the two jurisdictions have different strategies. A spokeswoman for the Arlington County government declined to answer questions.

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Comments [1]

Mary curtius

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have been transit partners for more than 35 years. Together, we’ve ensured safe, efficient transit options for hundreds of thousands of people … every day.

Throughout our region’s history, federal and state transportation funding has been the backbone of supporting transit projects. Unfortunately, that landscape has changed dramatically in just the last few years, greatly impacting local transit planning across the country. All of us have to reassess transportation projects, determine how we can fund them, and make some tough strategic decisions.

The City of Alexandria has decided to focus its attention and its funding on the planned infill Metrorail station; this investment will benefit not only the City, but the entire region.

Arlington needs a streetcar system in Crystal City to support development there – and has funding available through a special tax district.

We are both committed to providing more transit options for people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor. Our strategies are not exactly the same at this point in time. We look forward to working together collaboratively as we continue to move people efficiently through our communities and the region.

Mary Hynes William Euille
Chair, Arlington County Board Mayor, City of Alexandria

Apr. 27 2012 01:13 PM

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