Public transit, streets focus of Arlington City Council election forum

Posted Monday, Apr. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Whether talking about the poor condition of city streets or the desire to connect Arlington with regional rail, transportation was a hot topic for City Council candidates Monday night at the annual League of Women Voters forum.

The May 11 municipal election will determine the city's mayor, District 4, District 5 and District 8 council representatives.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said a proposed shuttle bus service between downtown Arlington and the Trinity Railway Express CentrePort Station will give the city a better idea about residents' desire to connect with a regional rail system. The City Council is expected to vote next month on a contract with Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to provide service in a two-year pilot project.

If the pilot program is successful, then residents may eventually be asked whether they want the city to pay to join DART's rail system, Cluck said. "If they don't, we're through with that."

Challenger Jerry Pikulinski said he opposes paying to join DART other than providing right of way for rail lines or train stations.

"We ought to look to them to build the system and finance it," Pikulinski said. "If the need is as great as they think it is, the fares that are generated by Arlington will be sufficient to justify the initiative of Dallas and Fort Worth."

Cluck's other challenger, Chris Dobson, said he believes Arlington needs to spend more time gathering residents' input. "The transportation issues Arlington faces are individual, not just based upon car ownership or lack of mass transit," Dobson said. "We have to reach out to each individual person."

Christopher McCain, a District 5 council challenger, said more public transportation options are needed, especially near the University of Texas at Arlington.

Connecting to the regional rail network may be one option to addressing the city's infrastructure and congestion problems, District 5 incumbent Lana Wolff said. An estimated 66 percent of Arlington's workforce commutes to jobs outside the city.

"We need to continually work on opportunities with connectivity to the rail. We know that is the future," Wolff said.

District 8 candidates Richard Weber and Joe McHaney said they want to see Arlington spend more on its aging road system. District 8 incumbent Michael Glaspie said the council recently agreed to increase the street maintenance budget to more quickly address the $425 million backlog of repairs.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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