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.

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