Arlington, VA, often seen as a valuable model for smart growth development, has conjured up some recent controversy over its rejection of prospective highway projects which would widen lanes on I-66 and develop “HOT” (high occupancy toll) lanes on I-95/395.
This opposition has left tax payers wondering whether Arlington county is making a “smart growth” decision, or whether they are merely protecting their local community at the expense of outside regions like DC.
I recently had the misfortune of traveling on I-66 when I took a guilty, gas fueled, personal day trip to Shenandoah National Park, which was beautiful. Of course the only feasible way for me to get there was by driving, but I still felt guilty about hopping in a car for personal leisure.
Anyways, the journey out of Arlington was fine. But the journey back was not so fine since I sat in gridlock traffic for about 30-45 minutes (not long in the grand scheme of things) but long enough for me to swear off driving (as I’ve done countless times). Despite the undesirable traffic I experienced at 4:30pm on a Sunday night, I still defend Arlington County in opposing those highway projects.
America doesn’t need wider highways. It needs to revamp its whole highway system (infrastructure) and provide better alternatives to driving to keep cars off the road. We can’t keep side stepping our obligation to end our addiction to oil by using tax payers’ money to fund major highway projects which only foster our reliance on fossil fuels.
What do you think?