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Arlington Responds to Route 1 Transit Controversy

By ARLnow.com

Thursday - 4/26/2012, 2:55pm  ET

A report that Arlington backed out of an agreement with Alexandria to conduct an environmental assessment for the Route 1 transit corridor project is incorrect, according to a county government spokeswoman.

The two jurisdictions have been cooperating on a transit project that will bring bus rapid transit and, ultimately, a streetcar to the Route 1 corridor of Crystal City and Potomac Yard. But today Connection Newspapers reported that Alexandria officials were upset because Arlington supposedly withdrew from an agreement to pay $2.4 million of the $3.4 million cost of an environmental analysis.

In reality, says Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius, the environmental analysis is currently underway and Arlington County is paying its $1.78 million share of the $3.56 million cost. The Arlington county manager and the Alexandria city manager signed an agreement to split the cost of the analysis in 2010, she said.

At issue, according to Curtius, is an “Alternatives Analysis” that was optional under the agreement.

“Arlington recently informed Alexandria that we do not intend to do an Alternatives Analysis,” Curtius told ARLnow.com. “Such an analysis is required in order to apply for federal small/new starts funding. Arlington does not intend to apply for such funding for Route 1. We are continuing to work with Alexandria on how to proceed in a way that enables Alexandria to apply for federal funding for its part of the transit project, should it choose to do so.”

In an apparent effort to dispute the report about rising tensions between the two jurisdictions, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes and Alexandria Mayor William Euille have issued a joint statement regarding their transit partnership.

Arlington County and the City of Alexandria have been transit partners for more than 35 years. Together, we’ve ensured safe, efficient transit options for hundreds of thousands of people … every day.

Throughout our region’s history, federal and state transportation funding has been the backbone of supporting transit projects. Unfortunately, that landscape has changed dramatically in just the last few years, greatly impacting local transit planning across the country. All of us have to reassess transportation projects, determine how we can fund them, and make some tough strategic decisions.

The City of Alexandria has decided to focus its attention and its funding on the planned infill Metrorail station; this investment will benefit not only the City, but the entire region.

Arlington needs a streetcar system in Crystal City to support development there — and has funding available through a special tax district.

We are both committed to providing more transit options for people who live and work in the Route 1 corridor. Our strategies are not exactly the same at this point in time. We look forward to working together collaboratively as we continue to move people efficiently through our communities and the region.