Arlington and Alexandria’s state legislators have written a letter to the state transportation secretary in which they ask him to keep funding for the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects and to disregard the anti-streetcar faction on the Arlington County Board.
The seven state delegates and senators, all Democrats, said they “strongly disagree with the efforts of Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt to deprive Arlington of those state funds dedicated to the streetcar project.”
The state’s promise to provide up to $65 million in funding is expected to allow Arlington County to build the project more quickly, and without using federal funds. The Columbia Pike segment is expected to cost $333 million, and the Crystal City segment $217 million, the county says.
The letter, which will be formally released Thursday, also said: “Their flawed strategy would not save any taxpayer dollars, but would instead move funding to other transit projects around the state that would not match the economic development and diversification that the streetcar would promote along the Pike, in Pentagon City, in Crystal City and in neighboring jurisdictions.”
Vihstadt (I) is in the middle of a heated reelection campaign for the County Board, which he has made primarily about the wisdom of building a streetcar. Garvey (D) last week told the Commonwealth Transportation Board that the state should not provide the money it has promised for the project. On Tuesday afternoon, the pair unsuccessfully attempted to convince the majority of the County Board to include their minority positions in its communications promoting the streetcar.
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) called the efforts to reject state money “irresponsible and harmful.”
“The county has a majority position on the streetcar, and going around that process is counter-productive and irresponsible,” Lopez said.
The letter was signed by Lopez; state Sens. Janet Howell, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola; and Dels. Patrick Hope, Rob Krupicka and Rip Sullivan.