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Thread: Speak Up for Trail Snow Clearing & Trail Lighting

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    Exclamation Speak Up for Trail Snow Clearing & Trail Lighting

    After the initial County Manager's budget proposed a 2 cent increase in the property tax rate, citing unprecedented financial needs due to Metro and School burgeoning enrollment, the County Board asked the County Manager to come back with potential cuts that they could make that would allow them to only increase the tax rate by 1 cent. He just released the $11.1 million in potential cuts and there are two that would directly affect cycling in a very negative way:

    1) Eliminate priority trail clearing, for a savings of $50,700. Impact: "these major multi-use commuter trails will not be cleared of snow during major snow events at the top priority level. Snow removal will only begin after parking lots and
    other DPR assigned street routes are cleared."

    2) Eliminate new funding for street light maintenance and replacement that had been proposed for this budget, for a savings of $650,000 in ongoing and $180,000 in one-time money. Impact: "repair cycles for routine outages remaining at 30 days and major underground repairs remaining at 4 months" the new funding would reduce those to 3 days and 1 month respectively. What is not mentioned is that with this additional funding and staffing DES had agreed to take over trail lighting maintenance and replacement from DPR...who has ignored them for decades. All of the fixes to trail lighting that you've seen in the last two years have been DES (Shirlington Connector under 395, underpass of eternal gloom, 4MR under GW Parkway, etc)

    If being able to bike or walk after it snows is important to you, or if having trails, and especially trail underpasses well-lit is important to you, please email countyboard@arlingtonva.us and CC countymanager@arlingtonva.us

    All of the detail on the proposed cuts is here.

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    Nice to see that PARKED CARS takes precedence over the safety and convenience of MUT users.

    There must be a parked car lobby.

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    There are two ways to submit feedback:

    * Email: countyboard@arlingtonva.us (CC countymanager@arlingtonva.us)
    * Web-based form: https://budget.arlingtonva.us/proposed-fy18-feedback/

    Any data heads out there want to do an analysis of the benefits of the clearing? You can get data on those trail counters here: http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/b...ter-dashboard/ , which includes historical data. You can look at a snow storm from the days before trail clearing, then one with snow clearing and compare. Any analysis you could do would be helpful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_s View Post
    All of the fixes to trail lighting that you've seen in the last two years have been DES (Shirlington Connector under 395, underpass of eternal gloom, 4MR under GW Parkway, etc)
    Correction: VDOT fixed the lights under the Underpass of Eternal Gloom. ArlCo wanted nothing to do with them.

    What do you mean about 4MR under GWP? The lights don't work there. AFAIK, the only thing DES has managed to accomplish in terms of trail lighting is the underpass under 395.

    On the other topic of snow clearing, I fail to see how changing the order of clearing reduces costs. If all they plan to do is clear the trails 2 days later and clear some parking lot a little sooner, doesn't it cost the same?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    Correction: VDOT fixed the lights under the Underpass of Eternal Gloom. ArlCo wanted nothing to do with them.
    Thanks for the correction - my mistake.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    What do you mean about 4MR under GWP? The lights don't work there. AFAIK, the only thing DES has managed to accomplish in terms of trail lighting is the underpass under 395.
    It's an active project.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    On the other topic of snow clearing, I fail to see how changing the order of clearing reduces costs. If all they plan to do is clear the trails 2 days later and clear some parking lot a little sooner, doesn't it cost the same?
    Given that I've never known a jurisdiction to say "Sorry, guys - the snow clearing budget is used up. NO more plowing, we're just going to let it all pile up." I don't claim to have any understanding of how "budgeting" works in regard to snow removal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    On the other topic of snow clearing, I fail to see how changing the order of clearing reduces costs. If all they plan to do is clear the trails 2 days later and clear some parking lot a little sooner, doesn't it cost the same?
    Got a chance to talk with DPR about this today. They don't see this as a core service, which is why they proposed it as a cut. The cut is because right now, they use an additional person to clear the trails, so that parking lots of county facilities get cleared at the same speed ("parking lots have to be cleared in order to open County buildings"). And they account for depreciation of the equipment if it's used for snow clearing. If it's not used for snow clearing, they still use it for some projects, but they don't account for depreciation.

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    How does the city budget for snow removal? If they're hiring extra guys to sit around and wait for it to snow I would vote that down.

    In municipalities I am familiar with they have a pot of money set aside for snow removal. If its a good snow year they have hungry contractors ready to supplement city resources. If its a bad snow year they have money in the bank for next winter. Of course the city fathers get greedy if there are a few back to back bad years and raid the snow funds to buy new leather sofas for the offices and then all hell breaks loose when it does snow.

    I think doing any data analysis may be counter productive based on the numbers I have looked at. Cyclists represent a tiny tiny fraction if you compare cars and transit riders. Not plowing doesn't do anything to encourage cycling, obviously. But if you do an analysis and say you get 300 bicycles across 14th street bridge if you push snow compared to tens of thousands of cars and transit riders... Its not even a drop in the bucket. The annual average DAILY traffic on 395 runs well over twice the maximum MONTHLY traffic of 14th street bridge cyclists and peds, when I looked at 2016 data. I didn't look for bus/train ridership specifically, but VRE broke a record last summer with over 100k trips in one week. Which is still over the biggest month on 14th street bridge bike/ped counter.

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    We're not comparing plowing 395 with the Custis Trail. The main bike commuter corridors, even in the winter, accommodate more people going to work than many residential side streets, and every single one of those gets plowed. Prioritizing the trails below parking lots is an insult.

    Additionally, several key sections of trail are also critical pedestrian corridors to Metro, particularly Rosslyn, Ballston and EFC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    We're not comparing plowing 395 with the Custis Trail. The main bike commuter corridors, even in the winter, accommodate more people going to work than many residential side streets, and every single one of those gets plowed. Prioritizing the trails below parking lots is an insult.

    Additionally, several key sections of trail are also critical pedestrian corridors to Metro, particularly Rosslyn, Ballston and EFC.
    I have options and can choose to commute by car, but not everyone does. We need to keep these trails rideable in a timely manner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    On the other topic of snow clearing, I fail to see how changing the order of clearing reduces costs. If all they plan to do is clear the trails 2 days later and clear some parking lot a little sooner, doesn't it cost the same?
    If you put it off long enough, the snow will generally melt before you get around to it. (Unless it snows again, which restarts the cycle.)

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