Vihstadt and Garvey Demand, Receive Answers from County Staff About Streetcar Funding
County Board met with the County Manager and Transportation Staff this afternoon to discuss transportation programs related to the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
Things went smoothly until about 45 minutes before the end of the meeting when John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey began asking Barbara Donnellan, Dennis Leach, and Transit Bureau Chief Steve Del Giudice a number of very pointed questions about Pike and Crystal City streetcar planning.
Turns out the the Federal Transit Administration could take 3 years or more to approve the County application for federal funding. Which prompted Jay Fisette to ask if it might be better to turn to other funding sources, like the State of Virginia. When queried by John Vihstadt, Leach stated that the County has a good working relationship with the State of Virginia regarding funding of capital transportation projects. That prompted both Vihstadt and Libby Garvey to ask whether state transportation funding can be used for transportation projects other than a Pike and Crystal City streetcar freeing up general obligation funds for uses like schools. (Short answer is yes).
At that point Donnellan became visibly angry and told Vihstadt that funds were already committed to the streetcar projects. Vihstadt continued, asking how much the County was spending on PR infomercials promoting the streetcar and asking whether it was fair to the two minority Board members for the County to be spending lavishly on advertising for the Board majority's position. Donnellan replied that it was appropriate to spend money informing Arlington residents about streetcars. Vihstadt then asked for an accounting of how much is being spent.
Those are the highlights. Post reporter was on hand for the entire meeting, so you may be able to read her take on what occurred tomorrow.