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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Transportation Committee Meeting
on Master Transportation Plan

From: Gerald.Auten@do.treas.gov [mailto:Gerald.Auten@do.treas.gov]

Sent: Monday, September 18, 2006 11:13 PM

To: Rviola@arlingtonva.us

Subject: MTP Comments


Attached is a summary of comments made at an open meeting held by the Transportation Committee of the Civic Federation to provide an opportunity for Civic Federation delegates and other interested citizens to discuss and provide input on the draft MTP. We also invited people who couldn't attend the meeting to provide comments by e-mail. A total of 16 people attended the meeting or provided comments via e-mail. The procedure we followed was to provide a summary of comments. The summary preserves the words of the participants as much as possible based on careful notes taken at the meeting.

The three main topics that were discussed at the meeting were the draft wording of a policy on flexibility in sidewalks, the bicycle plan and trucks. In addition, there were a number of suggestions on the overall report and several other topics were also discussed.

I hope that you will find the comments helpful. It is important to be clear that the collected comments reflect the views of the individuals who participated in the meeting, some of whom are not delegates or alternates to the Civic Federation, but who were interested in participating in the meeting. The comments, therefore do not necessarily reflect any adopted policies of the Civic Federation, and may even be contrary to positions of the Civic Federation. Nevertheless, they do reflect the views of interested citizens.

Jerry Auten
Chair, Transportation Committee of the Civic Federation

Comments Made at Open Meeting on the MTP
Held by the Civic Federation Transportation Committee

In order to obtain comments from Civic Federation Delegates, Civic Association representatives, and other interested citizens on the draft Master Transportation Plan, the Civic Federation Transportation Committee held an open meeting on Sunday, September 10, 2006 in the Central Library. The meeting was attended by 15 people, including delegates, Transportation Committee members, and other citizens. The Transportation Committee Chair, Jerry Auten, would summarize comments made at the meeting and other comments received by e-mail for submission to the county staff. The comments are grouped by subject to facilitate clarity. These comments are those of individual delegates and other interested citizens. They do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the Civic Federation.

General comments on the draft plan.

The report is comprehensive, but that makes it too big and too hard for people to comprehend at one time. It should be broken up and not adopted all at once.

The report has an arrogant and condescending tone.

A detailed table of contents would help greatly to clarify what is covered in the plan.

The plan should have interim goals, such as after 5 or 10 years. The plan should also include a schedule for periodic review and renewal, after 5 to 10 years. The Orange Line is at or near capacity and it is unclear how this will work out 5 years from now. Several expressed agreement with the idea of interim goals and reviews.

The plan needs to include provision for finances. How will these proposals be funded? Will there be sufficient funds in the budget for all this?

The use of long lists of bullet points in the draft is not desirable. It would be better to have numbered items to allow for more clear reference to particular points.

The draft has no clear statement of the purpose or function of the transportation plan. These should be explicitly spelled out.

Does the plan represent final decisions on issues or more general guidance? The Civic Federation would be helped be a clear statement of on this.


The bicycle plan is essentially what the bicycle committee proposed originally. The proposed wide trails (18 feet wide including 6 feet of crushed rock) would result in more water runoff and loss of trees. What was previously adopted was a compromise. The plan should stick with the old plan, which represented a compromise

These comments provoked a considerable discussion about the bicycle plan. Several bicycle committee members responded to the comments, and some others expressed agreement with some of the above comments.

The plan includes only 3 widening projects.

An 8 foot trail would be only 4 feet per bicycle, which is the width of a bicycle. A 16 foot trail should be the minimum width. There are no trees near current trails as that would be dangerous. Trees should not be within 12 to 18 feet of new trails. It is important to adhere to AASHTO standards. The county could be sued for building a substandard facility if it did not adhere to AASHTO standards. Arlington would not build a street that did not follow national standards.

Wide trails encourage speeding. The design is for 20 mph. (Another comment suggested design is for 30 mph.)

Wider is better unless the trail is not used by bicycles. There is more safety with more width. The plan should not endorse nonstandard widths.)

Speed limits of 15 mph as well as speed reduction devices were mentioned in the Washington Post article about regional bike trails. Arlington should consider a 15 mile per hour speed limit. A bicycle speed limit is not likely to be enforced.

There are conflicts between walkers and bicyclists on trails. Should there be separate trails for pedestrians and bicycles? Trails are generally for both bicycle and pedestrian use. There are separate bicycle and pedestrian trails in some cases.

Cars pay for parking. Are there license fees or other fees for bicycles? Shouldn't bicyclists contribute for the costs of all the new facilities? Could a bicycle fund be funded with contributions and fees? Licenses are free. Secure lockers are leased for $70 for a year.


The plan needs to do more to address the issue of trucks. We want trucks to use arterials. It is unclear if the narrower lanes planned for arterials are adequate for trucks. It could cause some of them to use neighborhood streets, and we don't want trucks in the neighborhoods.

The issue of trucks is very contentious. Not all of the arterials are getting a fair share of truck traffic as they are directed elsewhere. Washington Boulevard gets a lot of trucks for a street that is primarily residential.

Because it would be controversial, a truck routing plan might be saved for a future plan.

The plan should at least contain the current VDOT truck network. It should also include data on current truck traffic on various arterials and recent trends.

Sidewalk Issues

The draft language on flexibility in sidewalks is not acceptable. The Civic Federation passed a strong resolution on this issue and the resolution received overwhelming support. The staff language is not consistent with the Civic Federation resolution. While everyone supports pedestrian safety and installation of sidewalks where they are needed, it is a waste of County funds to require sidewalks in some situations. Some of the cases where flexibility is automatically ruled out seem arbitrary as the need for a sidewalk would depend on the particular situation and whether there was actually any traffic or safety issue at the particular location. There was some discussion about whether the Civic Federation should pass another resolution, resend the previous resolution, or just send comments on the specific language. There was not time to fully consider this issue at the meeting.

Other Issues

There is nothing on I-66. The plan should include a statement of the County Board's position opposing widening. It may not be in the plan because I-66 is not under Arlington's control. The issue may be decided by the time the plan is approved.

The draft calls for reducing the number of SOV trips at various points. Given the planned increase in population, this would imply at least a 25 percent reduction in trips by current residents. It was suggested that the study should show how they would plan to meet this goal.

The lead goal, reducing single occupancy vehicle trips, seems like a detailed objective for a general anti-automobile agenda. A more appropriate lead objective would be, e.g, the promotion of the efficient use of citizen and visitors' time and financial resources -- which might be augmented with some of the safety, security, and environmental objectives. Citizens' time, as well as financial resources, should be viewed as valuable.

Reducing Single Occupant Vehicle (SOV) trips may or may not make sense. Sometimes these are simply the efficient way to perform some function, such as shopping, getting all the way to work, or getting to car pool or mass transit transfer point. The justification for the suggested numerical targets is unclear.

Participants in the meeting and Civic Association membership
(not necessarily a current ACCF delegate):

John Shepherd, Carlin Springs
Bill Gearhart, Lyon Village
Robert Morgan, Arlington Forest
Allen Muchnick
Karen Riecks
Randy Swart, Barcroft
Joseph Warren
Sharon Rogers, Woodmont
Bernie Berne, Buckingham
Thanna Schemmel, Highland Park-Overlea Knolls
Larry Finch, Donaldson Run
Peter Owen, Clarendon-Courthouse
Herschel Kantor, Williamsburg
Paul Svercl, Boulevard Manor
Frank Emerson, Waycroft-Woodlawn
Jerry Auten, Chair, Leeway-Overlea

This page was last revised on: September 20, 2006.
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