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The Columbia Pike Streetcar: A Teenís Outlook

The Columbia Pike Streetcar project has been a proposed project for the past 25 years. Arlington County Board members have been eager to pass their plans for building a streetcar on the busy South Arlington street. The Streetcar is proposed to run for 4.5 miles from the Pentagon City Metro station until Leesburg Pike in the Skyline area of Fairfax County. This proposed plan is said to cost $250 million. The Streetcar has definitely garnered both positive and negative feedback from both residents and politicians. It is said to be both expensive and unnecessary as well as a great addition to help reduce cars on the street and boost local businesses.

In my opinion, I find that the negative consequences of having a streetcar built on Columbia Pike heavily outweigh the benefits. For Chris Zimmerman, Jay Fisette, Mary Hynes, and Walter Tejada, the streetcar “encourages people to get out of their cars, and encourages developers to invest."

Personally, I highly doubt that a streetcar alone will actually get people to “get out of their cars”. As seen in issues such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, only something as tragic as death seems to initiate any change between peoples’ lifestyles and government action. Adding a streetcar to Columbia Pike is like adding gasoline to a forest fire. The street, already clogged and congested more often than not does not need more traffic and distractions to drivers and residents. This keeps you wondering; is adding a streetcar in conjunction with bicycles, cars, school buses, Metro/ART buses, and pedestrians on a busy road really a good idea?

The streetcar proposal is also said to bring more people around the county in order to help small business gain more revenue. One example of this is the small restaurant Café Sazon, owned by Adriana Torres. She believes that having the streetcar may boost the sluggish business occurring at her restaurant.

Although a streetcar may bring more people around different parts of the county, this may not necessarily bring more customers. It is odd to think what the streetcar’s actual function may serve. Arlington already has WMATA and ART bus services. Will a streetcar really act as a way to bring more customers to shop/eat at local businesses? Also, with all of the hustle and bustle with construction that is brought along with the building of the streetcar, how well will that fare with small businesses?

Juliet Hiznay, president of the nonprofit Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization says that “There is a funkiness that is attractive to people along Columbia Pike. They want to preserve the cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity.” When adding a streetcar into the mix, how is this supposed to preserve cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity? With the addition of the streetcar, it seems as if the goal is to transform Arlington into the New York City of Virginia.

So what is a teen’s outlook? It may not even matter. As explained by Mary Hynes after one audience member from the streetcar townhall meeting at Kenmore Middle School on March 28, 2013 said, “If this is such a good idea, why don’t you allow the county to vote on it?”, Virginia law only allows referenda on general obligation bond issues, and the streetcar will be funded via ongoing transportation funds, not via debt  Resident opinions about the construction of the streetcar seem worthless to Arlington County staff and board members as not even a survey was conducted upon locals. This only further proves how “money makes the world go round”.

Posted: Aug 01, 2013 by Brian Tran

completely agree
Great piece!
Comment by: citizen - 10/30/2013 11:55 PM

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