Monday, April 7, 2014
A streetcar election!
Transit advocates will be closely watching an April 7 special election in Arlington, Virginia. What would normally seem to be a pretty inconsequential election for a vacant county board seat may determine the fate of the Columbia Pike streetcar project. That project – a potential East Coast showcase for using streetcar technology as the transportation spine of a transit oriented development corridor – has been a key element of Arlington’s future development plans. Now it is meeting with vigorous opposition from a well-financed board candidate representing a rather hazy coalition of anti-streetcar forces. True, the candidate in question doesn’t present himself as anti-transit; he says he just favors a much cheaper bus rapid transit option. (TV news account here.)Since a special election for a county board seat usually attracts only a tiny voter turnout, it may be possible to read too much into the outcome. Nevertheless it is an election with a clear choice and may have significant consequences. Let’s see what happens.