The Washington Post

Two more Arlington officials call for public vote on Columiba Pike streetcar

Two more elected officials have joined the call for an Arlington County referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar.

Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy said in public statements that the County Board should put the issue of whether to build a streetcar along the pike on the ballot.

“Arlington voters are intelligent and I believe it is time for them to be able to weigh in on the streetcar project,” Morroy said. “A referendum forces both sides of this debate to take their case to the voters. This issue has become too divisive to fester any longer.”

“The streetcar project has turned into a political nightmare in Arlington,” O’Leary said. “A referendum is the only valid way to get us out of this mess. If there is not a public vote on this project, the public will weigh in through other elections - and that is not a good idea for the Arlington Democratic Party.”

Both officials are supporters of state Del. Patrick Hope, who is running in the crowded primary for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. James Moran (D). Hope proposed the referendum last week and was supported by Alan Howze, who lost the April 8 special election for County Board to John Vihstadt, a Republican running as an independent who had made the streetcar and spending an issue in his campaign.

Three of the five Arlington County Board members support the streetcar; in addition to Vihstadt, Libby Garvey opposes it. The board as a body has said so far it’s unwilling to call for a public vote on the topic, asserting that years of community meetings and a consultant’s report on the economic viability of the streetcar are a better measure of public feeling.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.


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