What are your thoughts on the practicality and cost of the Columbia Pike streetcar?
Is this project a good use of funds?
In order to determine whether this $261M investment is justified, we need to take a step back and address the following:
What do Arlingtonians want? What is their strategic vision and plan for Arlington? We continue to develop sector plans, but have we really analyzed how those plans will all fit together, the impact that will have on the surrounding neighborhoods, and the potential increased strain on public services?
How will the street car project be implemented? Plans for the implementation of this project will need to include: the development of connection points and hubs, thereby weaning buses off of the pike, procedures and side tracks for removal of non-functioning trains, etc.
Can we afford it? I believe in making investments when a project or initiative is deemed investment worthy and when it is the right priority for the right time. We currently have a capital maintenance backlog for just parks and facilities of $35M to $45M. We need to make resolving our school capacity issues one of our top priorities. Also, to move forward with the streetcar project, we still need to convince private investors to come aboard.
Do we have the resources to appropriately manage the contractors? Without appropriate management the price tag of $261M could easily grow. We have seen this in other street car projects and we must be sure we have the proper management in place before the project starts up.
With the appropriate planning I think the Columbia Pike streetcar could be a promising investment; however, per my points above, I would need to be convinced that now is the right time.