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Virginia Republican pursuing vendetta against Arlington for not wanting to be a "giant interchange"

DC isn't the only place in the area where a Republican legislative majority in a large, mostly exurban and rural geographic area is threatening serious budget blows against a small, Democratic-leaning, urban jurisdiction.

Photo by victoriapeckham on Flickr.

In the Virginia legislature, at least one influential House Republican is looking to take a big bite out of Arlington County's revenues as payback for its opposition to HOT lanes.

ARLnow has been reporting from Richmond about how Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), the chair of the House Republican caucus, has been holding up a bill to let Arlington continue its existing hotel tax. Now, he's also introduced three budget amendments which would withhold money from jurisdictions that oppose HOT lane projects, cut off state funding for Arlington's streetcar and roadway changes on Columbia Pike, and conduct an audit of the quality of roadways in Arlington.

In Friday's WAMU Politics Hour discussion with Brian Moran, Tom Sherwood joked that one of Virginia's transportation plans is to "obliterate Arlington and make a big interchange." It seems that Hugo, at least, really does see Arlington as nothing more than what's in the way of him driving to DC, and if they won't let the state ram wider roads through, he'd like to obliterate the county in the state legislature.

Instead, maybe officials should stop blaming Arlington for being dense and walkable while their own counties chose unsustainable, sprawling development patterns. Sherwood talked about how traffic is bad and how building more roads won't make it better. He said, "I'm very fatalistic about Northern Virginia traffic. I think it's always going to be bad... no matter how many roads they do or how many bicycles they buy... It seems to me that Northern Virginia is doomed because of the policies of the last 35 years."

Or, maybe the two small, oppressed jurisdictions on the Potomac should band together and try to push for statehood together. Republicans would get a redder Virginia in exchange, though it would sink their hopes of massive freeway expansions. Arlington might have a vote in the state legislature, but it's got a lot in common with DC's struggle.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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add alexandria (restore the 10 mile square!) and i think we have something here.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

Hey now! Careful, you may alienate the like-minded Republicans here who are sympathetic to the urbanist agenda, but who regularly vote for politicians who will work to undercut it.

Remember the first rule of modern journalism: you must never, ever point out the policy differences between the major parties. How else will we bring on the utopian post-partisan golden era?

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 10:15 am • linkreport

Arlington hasn't handled this issue very well, IMO. I don't agree with the tit-for-tat, but it's not unexpected to see some backlash from Richmond against Arlington for blocking a regional project, and I'm completely against HOT lanes.

by Vik on Jan 25, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

Maybe Arlington should withhold its state tax revenue from the rest of Virginia. But where would the tweakers who inhabit the rest of the state get their handouts from after that?

by aaa on Jan 25, 2011 10:19 am • linkreport

Funny thing about one of the amendments is that VDOT already (and still) maintains the primary routes through Arlington...Route 1, Lee Hwy, Arlington Blvd, etc etc.

by Froggie on Jan 25, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

There is the other side of the story of course, which is what triggered this is suing VDOT officials in their personal capacity and spending 800K on the HOV lawsuit (all outside counsel).

The HOV lanes are a crock of shit, but Arlington's arguments are beyond weak.

by charlie on Jan 25, 2011 10:26 am • linkreport

I wonder if you'd get Fairfax wanting to come along for the ride too.

This, of course, isn't exactly a unique proposal. NYC's been threatening to secede from NYS for decades, and would probably take a few chunks of NJ along with it, if it ever actually did so.

by andrew on Jan 25, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

Arlington is not entirely against the HOT lanes (OK, maybe Zimmerman is TOTALLY against them). Everyone acknowledges that the 395-HOV lanes are among the most successful managed lanes in the region. HOV will still ride for free on the new HOT lanes configuration.

Arlington's main concern is that when people have the ability to pay to use HOT lanes, it begins to remove riders from transit. They are against the additional choice HOT lanes provide, because it will cause a downturn in transit revenue along that corridor. They've objected to the balance of toll revenue that goes back into transit funding along the corridor. It's in black and white, in the correspondence between the county and state in the years leading up to the suit.

Their lawsuit was their ill conceived way to force the parties to the bargaining table, so they could get paid, and the singling out of Ray LaHood et. al. for civil rights violations was just the full-retard cherry on top.

The County will blink first, because the alternative of putting a bunch of former highly respected government officials on the stand and grilling them about discrimination in their planning would come back to bite Arlington hard. The displacement of lower-income residents from the R-B and soon Columbia Pike corridors doesn't give Arlington any moral high ground in that direction.

by Lou on Jan 25, 2011 10:42 am • linkreport

Maybe Arlington should withhold its state tax revenue from the rest of Virginia. Likely unconstitutional.

NYC's been threatening to secede from NYS for decades, and would probably take a few chunks of NJ along with it, if it ever actually did so.

"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State;"

And before you go all ZOMG WUT ABOUT WEST VIRGINA?!?!?!, do some research on it.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

MPC: why don't you enlighten us with a summary, since you seem to know the ins and outs of the story of how west virginia came to be? i'm not being snarky - it would just save time for the rest of us and be a service if you could do so. maybe that way we would know whether the circumstances that led to west virginia's existence are truly unique.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 10:47 am • linkreport

HOT Lanes in VA are nothing more than a funding mechanism to get Fluor and other construction companies on the public dole with REALLY bad 100-year contracts.

And these contracts are spreading around the country like a cancer.

Blackwater and Haliburton like relationships with state DOTS are now leaching our federal transportation dollars. This is a big deal, folks. Good luck finding any money for public transit.

by stevek_fairfax on Jan 25, 2011 10:51 am • linkreport

Basically, the Virginia General Assembly itself granted what is now West Virginia the right to form its own state, subject to a plebiscite. To be commensurate, the New York State legislature or the Virginia GA would have to grant those regions the right to secede. Good luck with that.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

@MPC And before you go all ZOMG WUT ABOUT WEST VIRGINA?!?!?!, do some research on it.

In retrospect, it's really surprising that the feds didn't take back Arlington and Alexandria after the Civil War.

by Steve S. on Jan 25, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State

And yet, Maine exists!

by JustMe on Jan 25, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

I've been contemplating the State of Alexandria/Arlington/Falls Church option for years as a lifelong Arlingtonian. I think the strongest argument against "secession" is that we would lack a public university and remain shut out of Virginia's excellent schools (largely paid for by Northern Virginia tax dollars BTW). On the other hand, I wonder if some arrangement can be made to give jurisdiction more autonomy over their finances. Probably won't happen anyway, though

Oh and MPC, if you continue on with that, read the rest of the passage: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress." In other words, it's entirely possible.

by Max D. on Jan 25, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

Between this and MPC's non-sequiturs in the Union Station thread, I think he's just here to egg us on.

by JustMe on Jan 25, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

JustME: of course, it's trolling, but i figured it was worth trying to engage it a bit here. there were facts to suss out.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 10:59 am • linkreport

I'm just saying this because every 20 years, guys like you salivate and circle-jerk over seceding from the rest of then state.

It's not going to happen, and to see you get all excited about it as about as lame as seeing Texans froth when their gov. talks about leaving the union.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:01 am • linkreport

In retrospect, it's really surprising that the feds didn't take back Arlington and Alexandria after the Civil War.

With Andrew Johnson as president, it wasn't surprising in the least bit.

by Dizzy on Jan 25, 2011 11:03 am • linkreport

MPC: having an intellectual discussion is not a "circle-jerk." you'd to well to avoid the unnecessary attacks.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Grow some skin. I didn't even call out anyone by name.

But yea, thanks Dad for pointing out the rules of a blog I've been posting on for like 3 years now.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

MPC: your snark and rudeness are noted.

see you at the happy hour tonight.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 11:12 am • linkreport

Anyone with a shred of experience on this board knows I take a bit more confrontational style. And nobody really complained that badly, because there's typically a kernel of truth in what I say.

But somewhere along the line, Dave obviously made you his strongman for etiquette enforcement. I guess you don't have anything better to do with your time.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

Anyone with a shred of experience on this board knows I take a bit more confrontational style.

If by "confrontational," you mean "dishonest," then sure. It's clear you're really ignorant of American history and legal issues but just wanted to club people over the head for no reason other than to gratify your ego. A bit more discussion in good faith would be warranted from you rather than your dishonest ravings and non-sequiturs. Expect to get called out on in when you have an incoherent (and, in the case of the CaBi thread, bigoted) outburst.

by JustMe on Jan 25, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

MPC: Thanks, but I'm my own person and David Alpert issues no directives on what I say. Confrontational is fine, as it can often help suss out ideas others might not have thought of, but your style is typically more "punch in the nose because I feel I can get away with it because I'm pseudonymous." That's fine, but it still makes you come across as a bitter, strange individual.

With regard to my usage of time, it may surprise you that I can chew gum and critique your negative attitude at the same time.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 11:19 am • linkreport

"I'm just saying this because every 20 years, guys like you salivate and circle-jerk over seceding from the rest of then state."

I have to agree with MPC on this one, and its more like every 20 days some thread comes up about secession or recession involving DC and the inner NoVa jurisdictions.

by spookiness on Jan 25, 2011 11:23 am • linkreport

MPC: You are indeed coming very close to if not crossing the line. Please stop being so rude and using junior high school language.

by David Alpert on Jan 25, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

Only in a community as cognitively dissonant as here could I be called a racist for pointing out facts. So is life, I guess.

That's fine, but it still makes you come across as a bitter, strange individual.

That's an ad hominem attack that I'll be reporting to Alpert.

I can chew gum and critique your negative attitude at the same time.

Again, you must be an exceptional person, since no one has really ever thought enough of me to go that far. I'm more than willing to take your scolding though.

I'm sorry though. I've been a bad boy. Should I go to bed without dessert? What's curious is that we both have gone through the same college departments (I saw your resume).

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:25 am • linkreport

Best idea is a state that consists of DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax County, and probably Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Roughly any jurisdiction that has territory inside the Beltway.

Politics aside, the only problems would be a) what happens with that college campus in College Park since it'd be no longer in Maryland and b) there would be a state line running through the grounds of Dulles Airport.

by Jason on Jan 25, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

MPC: I fail to see what attending the same school has to do with anything. Bill Gates and George W. Bush both attended Harvard.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

As I have written many times, Arlington's opposition to HOT lanes is fully in line with their Master Transportation Plan. They need to make the connection very evidently and openly in all their discussions about what they are doing. Whether or not Del. Hugo likes it, it would significantly strengthen Arlington's position. (As mentioned above by someone, who said that Arl's opposition in because of the impact of HOT lanes on transit use.)

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

I'm with Hatchard and others. Retrocession to DC makes the most sense, and would seriously enhance the total push towards statehood, and bring DOD into the District officially.

by Will on Jan 25, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

@Geoff I'm still waiting for an apology for your direct insult of me.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 11:31 am • linkreport

Yeah. Was just going to jump in and mention PG County. They've been neglected by their state legislature far worse than Arlington has. No clue how MoCo would feel about being part of DC (although their taxes would probably actually do *down* if that happened)...

by andrew on Jan 25, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

MPC and Geoff, let's keep this discussion thread to being about the issues in the post as opposed to about the other. Thanks.

by David Alpert on Jan 25, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

Another thing you'd have to worry about would be the concentration of wealth. The new state (ooh! let's pick a name for it!) would be by far the wealthiest in the nation.

I'm sure that urban areas in other states would love to jettison their poor and expensive rural areas too.

by andrew on Jan 25, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

How about creating a state whose border is the beltway? It would be ridiculously easy to institute a road-based commuter tax. The limited number of crossings would make it easy to set up toll booths on all possible points of entry.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport

MPC leaves off the important part of the clause from Article Four:

"New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."

In other words, you can create a new state out of part of an existing state so long as the legislature of that state agrees to it. That's how Maine (originally part of Massachusetts) and Kentucky (originally part of Virginia) came into existance. It doesn't strike me as terribly likely that the Virginia legislature would agree to NoVa secession, but tell them all that NoVa is full of communists and who knows.

The W. Virgnia story is an interesting bit of skullduggery that theoretically used the same legal recourse as Maine and Kentucky. Essentially, the Union-friendly, mostly slave-free western parts of the state strongly opposed secession, did not recognize the authority of the secessionist Virginia legislature, and was occupied very early in the Civil War by the Union army. The legislators from this part of the state met and declared themselves to be the legitimate Virginia legislature, which view the Union government endorsed. This "Virginia" legislature OK'd breaking off the western part of the state, and then promptly reconvened as the new legislature of the new state of West Virginia.

by jfruh on Jan 25, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

Does anyone here really think NoVa has a chance of forming a new state?

There's a lot that can be done to promote the goals of increased density and public transport that doesn't require such an...uhh...let's call it "unlikely" event.

by WRD on Jan 25, 2011 11:52 am • linkreport

MPC, our resident court jester! His little literary jabs brighten up his day, I'm sure. I'm certain he has a very satisfying life out in Herndon or Sterling, or wherever he lives.

"Oh jeez, I'm bored. Think I'll post some trolling comments on GGW and BeyondDC. That'll show those latte-sippin', arugula-eating, hipster urbanist dare they not live out in the 'burbs like me. BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

What would we do without him?

by Sonnny on Jan 25, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

lulz, b/c I live in Arlington and take the orange line into work. i just get annoyed by self-righteous urban hipsters who move here from podunk, USA, and suddenly realize that there's cool stuff here on coastal cities. they come a dime a dozen and this is my way of getting back.

and that's the most you'll ever hear about my personal life. the end.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 12:09 pm • linkreport

Max D wrote: "I think the strongest argument against "secession" is that we would lack a public university"

The Washingtonian pondered this a couple years ago. Since their theoretical state included all of Fairfax County, it was easy to suggest George Mason as a possible 4-year university for such a state.

Geoff wrote: "How about creating a state whose border is the beltway? It would be ridiculously easy to institute a road-based commuter tax. The limited number of crossings would make it easy to set up toll booths on all possible points of entry."

That's 23 vehicle crossings in Virginia alone, plus 4 bike-ped crossings. Don't think it'd be as easy as you expect.

WRD wrote: "Does anyone here really think NoVa has a chance of forming a new state?"

Nope. As much as rural Virginia doesn't consider NoVa as part of the state, they know where their trough is supplied from. So they'll continue to blast Northern Virginia while leeching off those tax dollars. Only way that'll change is if there's enough of a population shift into the urban areas to eventually break the rural voting bloc.

by Froggie on Jan 25, 2011 12:14 pm • linkreport

Many urban areas in the country have disputes with the states they are in (I'm sure folks in eastern Oregon have nothing in common with the way Portland governs). But NOVA does get sh*t on more than some others. What gets me is when people in SW VA try to tell me that NOVA "takes all their tax dollars"...LOL!

by stevek_fairfax on Jan 25, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

What's a HOT Lane?

by brewer1056 on Jan 25, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

Froggie: Sure, it's not a tiny number of crossings, but it would be less than those if DC were to try to do the same with the current boundaries. There are a lot more than 27 crossings between DC and MoCo on the ground right now, for example.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 25, 2011 12:21 pm • linkreport

brewer1056: Here's an old article about the issue. I've also linked to it from this article. Thanks for pointing out that I didn't have a good link to background.

by David Alpert on Jan 25, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

The fallacy in logic I see with merging with DC for any of the inner suburbs is that they'd be taking on all of DCs social ills solely to solve transit issues. Would anyone in Arlington really be willing to take on DCs joke of a government, it's endemic poverty issues, or it's woeful schools solely to have free reign to implement a transit plan? I live in DC, and alot of my friends live in Arlington because they get most of the benefits of convenient transit and location without the hassle of dealing with DCs dysfunctionality. Whether you think these issues are severely overblown or sensationalized is irrelevent. That's the prevalent view of DC by those who live outside it.

Long story short, it's ridiculous to even entertain the notion of secession; Texas will become an independent libertarian utopia before it happens. Why don't we take the time to look at reasonable
Solutions instead?

by O'hoolihan on Jan 25, 2011 12:43 pm • linkreport

You mean Texas will become an independent libertarian dytopia, right?

by NikolasM on Jan 25, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

You mean Texas will become an independent libertarian dytopia, right?

That's really witty, man. It's clever because you took what he said and changed it into your particular beliefs on the topic.

I won't even get into the fact that he was probably being sarcastic in the first place...

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

Hey, Timmie has a Legislative Survey on his campaign website.

It's fun, you can vote to raise taxes and stuff!

by Jasper on Jan 25, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport


I agree and I used to live in DC, in Arlington now, and I'm not an out-of-towner, which is suggested by people like MPC and Lance anytime you have anything critical to say about the region. Not mentioned enough is that while Arlington benefits by being close to DC, it also benefits w/ respect to governance by being in Virginia.

I don't know why this discussion got side-tracked with secession nonsense that is less likely to happen than a raising of the height limit, which I'm 100% in favor of. I think a better solution to this problem would be for the state and Arlington work together. HOT lanes are terrible, but we do need more road capacity as well as transit. If Arlington's opposition to this project had more to do w/ why HOT lanes are wrong fundamentally, I feel like I'd be able to get behind them more. It seems that that ship sailed long ago, but the way they've handled this leaves a lot to be desired.

by Vik on Jan 25, 2011 1:08 pm • linkreport

Arlington County did some really dumb things in trying to fight the HOV lanes.

Now it's on the receiving end from a state delegate.

Rather than whining about this being a "vendetta" and how those suburban representatives and their constituents are unelightened neanderthals, how about simply acknowledging what this is: rough politics.

And anyone that thinks NoVa is "doomed" has no business being a political commentator. Does anything think that in 20-50 years' time, NoVa will really be a wasteland?

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

Oh, did I need to put a little winky on my post for you to understand MPC? You are being particularly pathetic and toxic in this thread today.

by NikolasM on Jan 25, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

You are being particularly

As usual, I am the victim of ad hominem attacks.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

Let's try and keep the debate focused on the topic at hand. I don't think any comments have crossed the line, and I'm not deleting any, but I am asking everyone to please be civil.

Before you post a comment, ask yourself, 'Does this further a well-reasoned debate? Can I contribute in a more positive manner?'

And @MPC, I don't appreciate your attempts to draw the other team offsides. Most of us outgrew "nah-nah-nah-nah boo-boo, I'm not touching you" antics by age 12.

Periodically, you say controversial and purposefully irritating things merely to get someone to insult you. I'm not sure what sort of pleasure you get out of that, but please don't act like the moderators can't see it.

Thanks, all of you, for your cooperation.

by Matt Johnson on Jan 25, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

HOT Lanes are High Occupancy Toll Lanes to whomever asked above, they're extra lanes that can be driven on for free if you are HOV (3 people in this case) or you can pay a toll to use them individually.

I personally welcome any state that wants to secede to secede and we'll just see how it all plays out. But I do agree that to think of all of our problems at the state level could be solved by not being a part of the state anymore is a more juvenile approach akin to a teenager telling his/her parents that they can't wait until they're 18 and move out.

I'm also very much aginst the HOT lanes fwiw. I just don't think everytime conflict with Richmond comes up our first thought should be how to leave the commonwealth.

by Canaan on Jan 25, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport


"And anyone that thinks NoVa is "doomed" has no business being a political commentator. Does anything think that in 20-50 years' time, NoVa will really be a wasteland?"

I agree, but this should be expected by someone like Tom Sherwood, having heard his commentary before. There are some people in the region that will always either have something negative to say or distance themselves/ignore Northern Virginia. NoVa isn't perfect, but it's "beneath" some people.


I think that the privatization of these HOT lanes are what irk a lot of people, like myself.

by Vik on Jan 25, 2011 1:47 pm • linkreport

"And anyone that thinks NoVa is "doomed" has no business being a political commentator. Does anything think that in 20-50 years' time, NoVa will really be a wasteland?"

Totally agree with this, here. No way NoVa is a wasteland in 20-50 years' time. In 10-20 years time, NoVa and PG county will be where most of DC's erstwhile poor will live, along with pockets of gated affluence. Of course, traffic congestion will make the few remaining citizens wish they lived in a wasteland.

[Disclaimer: I may be wrong.]

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

MPC is like Sarah Palin, he's either in attack mode or victim mode.

by Nick on Jan 25, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

@oboe: Your disclaimer shows you are no political commentator!

I think we could see an interesting demographics shift of the poor moving out to the exurbs like Prince William and Loudoun counties (which I guess are in NoVa, although I tend to consider NoVa to be more along the Beltway).

by Fritz on Jan 25, 2011 2:06 pm • linkreport

Why should the next 10-20 years be any different from the last 10-20 years?

What has changed? The inflation-adjusted price of gasoline hasn't really changed that much, so I don't know what would be driving lifestyle shifts. And as much as you want to tout the impact of supposed preferences among Gen-Y, there's more to the region than Gen-Y, and we're still to see if those preferences will result in major behavior changes.

In my opinion, when forecasting, if you're predicting sudden and abrupt change like oboe suggested, you need to show that a key driver will be affected. Usually, that driver is oil, but we still have a few decades of cheap oil at the very least.

It will be interesting to do a retrospective look 20 years from now on the correct and incorrect points of these prognostications.

by MPC on Jan 25, 2011 2:13 pm • linkreport

Forgive my ignorance here, but how is it not NIMBY-ism for Arlington to oppose becoming a giant interchange that people in Fairfax/Prince William will find beneficial?

I ask this in seriousness. The rationale behind new mixed-use development seems to be that if enough people who don't live in a particular area want something (e.g., a condo with units they can afford, because they want to live near the Metro)--then that justifies granting their wishes, never mind any local opposition.

And now a bunch of non-Arlingtonians want something Arlingtonians in general (with exceptions) don't want.

Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

by JB on Jan 25, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

Fritz, there are not many "poor" left in Loudoun. It has the highest household income among counties in the nation.

That's a demographic shift that is already underway.

by Lou on Jan 25, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

The numbers I've seen showed projected Washington metro area growth was 44% from 1990 to 2020. That was before the current recession. Suburban infrastructure is at the breaking point now (at least to everyone but the most hardened exurban super-commuter).

Not saying there will be a sudden and abrupt shift, but a continuation--and acceleration--of existing well-documented trends. An increasing number of middle-class folks are choosing to live in the city--this much is not even controversial. The largest growth in poverty over the last decade has been in the suburbs--this is well-documented.

Those who move to the area will continue to have the option to live in the city, or live in the suburbs. Most will continue to live in the suburbs, because there are a lot of suburbs. For those who have the resources, more and more are making the decision to live in the city. As that number increases, that decision will become more attractive to more risk-averse folks.

Humans have a tendency to look at the facts on the ground, and assume things will continue on the way they have in the past. The shift in "driving lifestyle" hasn't been so much in the price of gasoline (though that *could* change) as the mental cost of sitting in traffic. When I meet Washington-area expatriates around the country, inevitably one of the first things they say is, "Thank God I don't have to deal with traffic anymore."

by oboe on Jan 25, 2011 2:51 pm • linkreport

NIMBYism I usually think of as more of an admission that whatever is at issue *should* exist, just not in proximity to the NIMBY herself. I don't think Arlington thinks that HOT lanes necessarily should exist anywhere on the Beltway. Opposition to a policy that goes against your long-standing Master Plan for development isn't NIMBYism - at least not in the way I tend to think about it.

by The AMT on Jan 25, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

Funny bit of news re: West Virginia & secession from a state -

by The AMT on Jan 25, 2011 3:08 pm • linkreport

O'Hoolihan -- despite DC's evident problems, I don't favor retrocession because it means we would give up (roughly - it's subject to some meddling from Congress) 100% control over our tax stream, including income taxes, while Maryland counties get only 50% of the total from the state income tax, but that is subject to recission, and they only directly control, I think, local property taxes. Sales taxes might come back a bit to the counties. Not sure.

Note that a couple years ago there was a very good article in the Washingtonian about the retrocession/NoVA as 51st state issue. I have a link to it somewhere in my blog but it'd be faster to go to the site.

by Richard Layman on Jan 25, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

The AMT: Arlington is not categorically against the 95/395 HOT lanes. Here's Arlington's position, in a nutshell:

"Arlington supports improvements that include providing better access to travelers in low-occupancy vehicles who are willing to pay tolls, if and only if such improvements build on the current success of HOV travel. Guaranteed free access to HOV and generous us of toll revenue to support transit throughout the corridor are two essential principles toward insuring ....yadda yadda."

That's Chris Zimmerman in 2005, writing to the state. It's all about the money with Zimmerman.

The County has made available the correspondence about the project planning and jurisdictional input. It makes for good reading.

by Lou on Jan 25, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

Nimbyism also primarily concerns itself with other peoples property. The HOT lanes are going through arlington (even if they're controlled by VDOT) similar to how if they were putting a road through my house it wouldn't be nimbyism for me to defend it because its going through land I own (eminent domain aside).

by Canaan on Jan 25, 2011 3:37 pm • linkreport

@MPC -- Richmond never authorized the succession of the Northwestern counties; the pretender government in Wheeling did so, with Congress' blessing. Richmond in fact sued for return of the counties in 1866, and lost in STATE OF VIRGINIA v. STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA, 78 U.S. 39 (1870). The last two counties to join WV, after that US Supreme Court decision, did so with Richmond's blessing, but only those two counties left with Richmond's blessing.

VA being in rebellion, i get what Congress did, though i still consider it fundamentally wrong-headed.

by dcseain on Jan 25, 2011 6:36 pm • linkreport

@JB, Canaan, The AMT-

The discussion over NIMBYism is interesting in its own right, but almost besides the point. Some NIMBYs raise, if self-interested, points. Don't policy-makers have a responsibility to respond to the criticisms on their face and not the rational behind them?

I'm not particularly familiar with the back-and-forth on this particular issue, but there are a number of valid issues Arlington raised.

First, are HOT Lanes fair? I think this is the least valid criticism. Paying for things is what we do in this country. Clearly driving is quite under-priced. Drivers don't pay for the pollution, traffic, carbon emissions, or infrastructure they use. HOT Lanes bring us closer to an efficient outcome and I believe this point is in favor of them. They act as a form of Pigovian tax, which I strongly support.

Second, is widening the interstate the best way to go? Obviously a contentious topic and I won't repeat the arguments here. I tend to believe it's not worth the cost and it probably doesn't solve the problems long-term. Even if you pay for them efficiently.

Third, Arlington has technical and concerns about the location and disruption these lanes, and accompanying construction, will cause. I haven't examined the issue nor do I have the knowledge of the area to have an informed opinion. I won't comment more than to say these probably have varying degrees of validity.

Fourth, there are political debates. I suspect the issue has become more significant and perhaps even symbolic because of this.

Fifth, there are financing concerns. These overlap with others, including the political debates. One of the sticking points seems to be the incidence of taxation within Virginia, a contentious political issue, to put it mildly. The finance and economic side is also where my experience and interests lie.

On the economic side, I think there are ways to structure the project's financing so that environmental, congestion, density, and other "urban" concerns are mitigated significantly. This is especially true to HOT lanes in general. For example, it is possibly to convert general use lanes to HOT lanes without widening the roads. I support this first because it helps internalize the cost of driving and second because it can be an efficient revenue source, especially in comparison to the income tax. Pigovian taxes!

by WRD on Jan 25, 2011 10:22 pm • linkreport

Serves the oppoNUTS in Arlington good and right. Their NIMBY obstructionist insistence on a stripped-down I-66 has inconvenienced the entire NOVA region for decades.

It's logical to conclude that their success in preventing 66 from being built to adequately serve the region has emboldened their efforts to stymie the HOT lane project on 395.

And basing their frivolous lawsuit on the premise that the HOT lanes are "discriminatory" is laughable to say the least. We're talking about the jurisdiction whose "dense and walkable" utopia consists almost entirely of class A office space, high-cost housing, and upscale shopping for the affluent.

All of a sudden they're concerned about those who are too poor to drive on HOT lanes?

Yeah, right.

by ceefer on Jan 26, 2011 12:24 am • linkreport

ceefer -

I urge you to contact your county officials in Fairfax or wherever you are to propose solutions that offer better connectivity to Washington, DC besides roads, which have been shown to not work. It's your county's leadership (I presume you live in Fairfax, but I don't know) that failed to place Metro stations in places where people live. They are the ones obstructing long-term solutions to solving the area's traffic problems. Arlington County has spent a large sum of money succesfully taking its own residents off the roads - through public transit, bike sharing, and promoting a "car-free diet" - so that people outside the beltway can more easily get around. So your argument about "obstruction" really has no merit. They've done more for you than your own county has done.

Also, real Northern Virginians don't call it NOVA, and you misspelled "opponents." But I'm sure you knew that.

by Max D. on Jan 26, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

A lobbying campaign and legislative effort against the bad aspects of the HOT Lanes contract for 395/95 (and not talked about as much, but the ones for I-66 too...) are needed far more than an environment lawsuit, IMHO. If the public were aware (I am convinced they aren't) that the funding mechanism is PUBLIC TAXPAYER MONEY to ensure corporate profits, HOT lanes projects would stop dead in their tracks in The Commonwealth.

Good sentiment, bad strategy.

by stevek_fairfax on Jan 26, 2011 4:54 pm • linkreport

Cut off funding for trolley cars! I can't believe it. How can anyone not want to fund a 19th century technology?

by JAY on Jan 26, 2011 9:34 pm • linkreport

JAY: Do you propose funding another 19th century technology, like the internal combustion engine that's in every automobile, which is another 19th century technology?

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Jan 26, 2011 9:42 pm • linkreport

Yup, just what we need, ceeferooni; more highways and more auto-centered development. :p

The last thing the area needs are more McMansions with three gas-guzzlers sitting in the driveway. You and MPC should exchange email addresses. You could whine about the "lib'rul urbanists" thwarting your dream of a 12 lane I-66.

by Steven P. on Jan 27, 2011 3:38 pm • linkreport

I deleted a comment that called an official a "douchebag." Please feel free to repost your comments without name-calling, as we welcome your point of view on the issue.

by David Alpert on Jan 27, 2011 11:44 pm • linkreport

This commenter, while using additional ad hominem attacks, also pointed out that I missed one that called a different official a "douchebag" earlier. I've deleted his comment and also that one.

by David Alpert on Jan 28, 2011 7:21 am • linkreport

The environment/corporate welfare arguments may be valid, but the GGW folks wouldn't support the HOT lanes project even if it had no environmental impact and all the profits went to help orphans find homes.

Regarding I-66, a reasonable approach for I-66 is doing what they are doing right now, which is to add the 3rd lane extension between ramps. This significantly helps traffic flow as it extends the area in which people can switch lanes and doesn't focus it all on one choke point. This is where it should end because going further in widening would require huge fixed costs associated with relocation, overpasses, etc. Furthermore, I-66 drivers' welfare is directly impacted by the orange line, and they should have to pay something for orange line service. Turning I-66 into a HOT lane during certain times with the $ dedicated to orange line improvements/extension would be a good compromise.

by Reasonable on Jan 28, 2011 8:35 am • linkreport

Pointing out Alpert's hypocrisy in selective comment removal is ad hominem?

Go figure.

by TGEoA on Jan 28, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

Ceefer is right. I'm by no means for making I-66 12 lanes--but it's crazy to have it 3 lanes in FFX and then bottlneck down to 2 in Arlington. The plan is to expand it *within the existing ROW.* This will cut congestion immensely and adversely affect no one.

There's nothing wrong with being a NIMBY. Those with the most to lose should have the greatest say. The wants of the many should be outweighed by the rights of the few or the one.

That said, bring on the HOT lanes.

by JB on Jan 28, 2011 2:47 pm • linkreport

JB - just curious. So you support using your taxpayer dollars (more than 80% of the cost) to construct the HOT Lanes (this is the way the current contracts in VA are written), and then pay additional user fees (up to around $1 per mile) to use them, with the profits going to the Fluor Corporation?

Or are you just for the 'concept' of HOT Lanes?

by stevek_fairfax on Jan 28, 2011 4:13 pm • linkreport


I can't speak for JB, but I'm ok with it.

I'm not thrilled at the way the money is being used, but we will all live.

These act as a sort of pigovian tax. Drivers should pay the cost of their driving. Maybe the revenue deal isn't so hot for taxpayers, but I see that as a minor--and fixable--problem.

by WRD on Jan 28, 2011 4:52 pm • linkreport

Why is it when a single Republican takes a short-term action it is called a Vendetta, but when a Democrat controlled body starts an expensive, delaying law suit, it's given a Pass?

by Spiffy the Wonderdawg on Jan 30, 2011 9:15 am • linkreport

Out of curiosity, could Arlington pigeonhole the state by creating parks along each side of highway affected by the potential HOT lanes? In other words, can it make the land into a trust for beautification/safety/etc purposes, and would that prevent the state from being able to expand the roads? Not sure how much land the state owns on each side of the highway.

by Brent on Jan 31, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

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