Arlington official: Don’t laugh at crazy transportation ideas

ARLINGTON, Va. — Nearly one year after Arlington cancelled the Columbia Pike Streetcar, smaller improvements are taking shape along the corridor, and a county board member says even outlandish ideas should be considered solutions for the heavily traveled area.

Vice Chair Walter Tejada says the proposals from some residents for a monorail-like pod transit system along the Pike should at least be discussed.

“The JPods or gondolas – some folks might chuckle, but at least the residents are coming up with options, and those who oppose things are not,” he says in an interview.

“It’s important to have the conversation, in the end we may or may not go with that stuff, but residents ought to be commended for trying,” he adds.

Tejada was the lone holdout on the County Board against ending the Columbia Pike streetcar plan. The board moved to cancel the streetcar after John Vihstadt won a seat in a campaign that largely focused on his opposition to the streetcar and other large infrastructure projects.

Streetcar opponents say buses can handle the corridor’s traffic demands. It’s already the busiest bus corridor in Virginia.

“As far as transportation options, expect more of the same,” Tejada said. “Absent others proposing alternatives, that’s really what it’s been about.”

The newly-dedicated Freedmen’s Village Bridge that carries Route 27/Washington Boulevard over Columbia Pike includes room to widen the Pike and space for people riding bikes or walking.

“This is a part of the ongoing upgrade of the Pike area, and it does fit as part of a multimodal approach,” Tejada said.

The bridge opened about 25 years after the first discussions about replacing the old one.

Arlington County is not expected to have a full transit plan for how to fill the gap left by the now-cancelled streetcar until next year.

In the meantime, the county has been working on smaller improvements. Among other things, the county plans to build a shared-use path on the north side of the Pike for cyclists and pedestrians.

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