Saturday, April 28, 2012

Squeeze Play

On Wednesday, May 2 the Alexandria Transportation Commission will meet to review the recommendations of the High Capacity Transit Corridor working group regarding Corridor A (north-south on Washington or Route 1). 

This is an issue of great concern for our community, especially beleaguered home owners who live on N. Patrick or N. Henry Streets and are already prey to vibration, noise, cracks in their homes' foundations, and safety hazards from pass-through traffic.  They also face the potential seizure of the much-needed parking lanes for dedicated bus rapid transit.

Word is that a certain Council candidate wants to override the unanimous findings of the citizen member Work Group. Why? Because Fairfax County may have later through-traffic transportation needs.

The Work Group concluded that Corridor A should not be pursued and no dedicated lanes provided. It seems Fairfax County has decided to terminate its Richmond Highway bus rapid transit at Huntington Metro.

It's bad enough that Alexandria citizens are once again being prepared on the sacrificial altar to appease Fairfax County commuters, but are we also getting the squeeze play from Arlington?

The candidate's recently published campaign finance disclosure form indicates he's received money from Arlington County's transit mouthpiece, Chris Hamilton.  Mr. Hamilton's official title is Commuter Services Chief for Arlington County's Department of Transportation , and he is also the author of CommuterPage Blog

So why in the context of City politics do Alexandrians matter less than our non-voting neighbors? 

When Planning Commissioner Stew Dunn is asked the question -- often in joint meetings -- the pass-through traffico Planning Commissioner typically says no.

"No" is a good answer.  Perhaps the best answer.

POSTSCRIPT:

The Growler received an E-mail on Sunday from Justin Wilson about this blog posting.  Here is the Growler's response to Mr. Wilson:

Justin:

I am sorry we are having a “Rashomon” moment; that you believe I am being untruthful.  We talked about two issues on April 18:  the first was the High Capacity Transit Corridor Working Group’s December 2011 resolution that there not be dedicated transit lanes on Route 1, which you supported.  The second was a proposal which was then being discussed by Commission members to remove references to Corridor A from the Master Plan, since the resolution advised against the dedicated lanes. This you told me you did not support.  

As we discussed the removal of the Corridor references from the Master Plan, you asked a rhetorical question: without such an option in the Plan, how would you be able to respond if Fairfax County suddenly decided in the future to run light rail to the Alexandria border?  To me, this was the lynchpin moment. 

Supporting the original Working Group resolution is one thing.  Opposing an amendment to the Transportation Master Plan to reflect the fact that the Working Group said no to dedicated transit lanes effectively overrides the Working Group's determination of non-feasibility.  It keeps Corridor A in play for some future date. 

If the language relating to Corridor A stays in the Master Plan, the City could come back at any time and insist on revisiting the idea of dedicated lanes for buses or streetcars on N. Patrick or N. Henry Streets. This means neighbors will continue to face threats to the integrity of their homes’ structures, their physical safety, their peace and quietude, and their quality of life. 

I recall that you also asked me if I had looked at the City’s 10-year CIP budget lately, presumably because there is no room there for a Corridor A extension.  But any short-term dearth of resources to pay for this does not provide long-term protection for our community.  After all, you and Rob Krupicka successfully revived the issue of a Potomac Yard Metro station.  Our community strongly supports an infill station in the Yard, and continues to applaud your political courage.  We appreciate your stewardship – and only ask for reasonable consideration for our neighborhood.  

The permanent barriers to a Corridor A’s extension involve more than funding.  They include not only physical limitations, but also effects that will directly impact Route 1 residents’ daily living situations.

If I am wrong and you now support removing Corridor A south of Braddock Metro from the Plan – as well as supporting the original Work Group resolution – I will be happy to retract.

Perhaps now is also the time to clear up a discrepancy that has puzzled the neighborhood for many months.  Attached is a file which is provided as supplemental information for Wednesday's Transportation Commission agenda.  This document, dated June 1, 2011, lists the City's long range transportation priorities.  Near the top of the list, #3, is "Construction of extension of CCPY transitway south of Braddock Road to connect to King Street station."  Why make Corridor A a priority six months before the Working Group finished its deliberations, especially when the Working Group's opinion is not to proceed with dedicated lanes on Route 1?

Leslie