Friday, June 29, 2012

CIP Work Session - County Board, County Manager, County Staff Clueless About Streetcars

Hello, Yupette,

I attended the County Board - County Manager - County Staff 10-year CIP work meeting yesterday afternoon. Most of this CIP meeting was about transportation. As you might expect, the Pike transit discussion was entirely about streetcars. Total cost of Arlington portion of a streetcar system is projected to be $198 million. The County Board would seek a $65 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration through its Small Starts program.

I was appalled to hear County Manager Barbara Donnellan declare that she and her staff don't know anything about streetcars and will have to hire consultants, travel to cities that have streetcar systems, hire streetcar program managers, educate the County Board and County Staff about streetcars, and so on. Not only the County Manager but Transportation Division Chief Dennis Leach stated they are clueless about streetcars.

Oh, even though County transportation staff don't know anything about streetcars that doesn't prevent them from persuading citizens that streetcars are the 'best option' for the Pike and Crystal City. One of the members of the County Board's hand-picked Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission described how transportation staff intensely lobbied FAAC commissioners about the 'merits' of streetcars.

'Alternatives analysis'. What alternatives analysis? Looks like the County will try to tell the FTA that after a fair and unbiased process Arlington residents chose streetcars as the 'best' transit option for the Pike and Crystal City.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

County Board Plans to Impose Censorship, Conformity on Residents, Staff, Commissions, Civic Associations, Media

Hello Yupette,

Latest news about the County Board's agenda to control everyone, in every way, all the time was the strategic planning meeting that the County Board its Department Heads and Division Chiefs held at Ft. Myer on June 25th and 26th. Purpose of the day and a half facilitated meeting was to devise ways of tightening the County Board's control over County residents, County staff, advisory commission members, and civic associations while preserving the charade of 'local democracy'.

On June 25th, County Board and County Staff frankly discussed the oncoming budget train wreck, and the $40 billion in expected cuts by federal agencies and federal contractors in our region, loss of good paying jobs to other jurisdictions, and the need for the meeting's participants to be united in order to preserve the status quo, aka 'Arlington Way'.

On June 26th, County Board and County Staff discussed ways of preventing the County Board from losing control through so-called 'end runs' when the County Board makes decisions that are unpopular with residents or groups of residents. The goal is to present an appearance of democracy while consolidating power. The method used to attain this goal is to train County Staff and recruit compliant advisory commission members and civic association 'community leaders' who will work to both market and facilitate the County Board's agenda with communities and advocacy groups. Members of the local media will be offered inducements like exclusive interviews with County Board members to increasingly censor negative news and information about work items on the County Board's agenda.

So, bottom line, if you are concerned about the County Bord throwing millions more into the Artisphere, don't, in the future, expect anyone on County Staff, advisory commissions, citizens associations, advocacy groups or the media to share your concerns.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Streetcars Involved in Numerous Accidents with Vehicles and Bicycles in Phoenix, Portland, Seattle


We heard from a resident of Portland Oregon, who is a summer intern living in Arlington, that there are 'lots of streetcar accidents in Portland'. So we did a Web search on 'streetcar accidents'. We found an investigative report that was published in the Arizona Star newspaper on February 19th. So here are the first few paragraphs.

Streetcar tracks heighten accident concerns here

"In addition to figuring out how to engineer, build and operate a $200 million new modern streetcar through the heart of town, Tuscon faces an additional challenge: how to prevent accidents with cars and bicycles.

Phoenix's new light rail experienced more than 100 accidents with cars and pedestrians in the first three years, causing more than $2.3 million in damages to the light rail forcing officials to launch a nearly $275,000 public education campaign. The Arizona Daily Star created a database of all 106 light-rail crashes at

Meanwhile in Portland, the bicycle community has ramped up a campaign to get riders to report accidents because hundreds of cyclists have crashed on the tracks, mainly by getting their wheels stuck in the gap between the tracks and the street.

In Seattle, a group of six cyclists filed a class action lawsuit against the city, saying they crashed on the streetcar tracks and were injured.

Despite the fact only a miniscule portion of Tuscon's streetcar tracks have been installed, they have already contributed to a fatality - something that hasn't happened in Portland in its 10 years of operation."

Dennis M. McKinney, 47, was riding on East Congress Street near the Fourth Avenue Underpass when he lost control of his bike as it got caught up in the streetcar tracks, according to a police report of the July 2010 incident. He lost control of his vehicle and was struck by a truck in the next lane. He was pronounced dead at University Medical Center."