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Letter: Letters to the Editor: Safeguards in Place For Streetcar Project

To the Editor:

Michael Pope’s article: “Streetcar; Desire or Disaster?” [Arlington Connection, April 3-9] is unbalanced, misleading and factually incorrect. Let me set the record straight.

First, although the article states that there is “a concern that lingers now that County officials are on the verge of entering into a new public-private partnership for the streetcar system,” it offers no response from any County official. The fact is that the County is not on the verge of entering into a public-private partnership for the streetcar. The public would be well aware of any potential partnership long before any such partnership were agreed to. The Arlington County Board adopted PPTA (Public-Private Transportation Act) Guidelines in December, 2012, with an effective date of April 1, 2013. Those Guidelines provide for an open and transparent public process before the County would enter into any public-private partnership for a streetcar or any transportation facility.

Second, the article quotes streetcar opponent Peter Rousselot saying that “one of the biggest flaws is that they can approve multi-million dollar contract (sic) to construct the streetcar with no competitive bidding.” This is absolutely untrue. According to the PPTA Guidelines, the County cannot accept an unsolicited proposal and enter into an agreement to construct the streetcar system without advertising for competing proposals. Furthermore, in a Resolution adopted by the County Board to accompany the Guidelines, the Board directed the County to “use best efforts to promote robust competition” and “strive to have more than one proposal to consider for complex or very costly projects.”

In short, when it adopted the PPTA Guidelines, the Board included safeguards that will ensure that if and when it is used, the process will be open and transparent.

Barbara Donnellan

County Manager

Arlington County