In a recent blog, WP columnist Steve Pearlstein attacked as nazis, zealots and nimbys Arlington activists who opposed recent road widening projects inside the county. He’s outraged that Arlington forced VDOT to abandon its plans to widen I-395 absent an environmental assessment of the project. Stewart Schwartz of the Coalition for Smarter Growth replied:
“Using the term “nazis” is always out of line in our public discourse; and the demonizing of Arlington, led by Secretary Connaughton and others, is also out of line and off the mark. On 95/395, VDOT refused to study a range of alternatives, the impact on HOV and bus service, safety and community impacts. It reflects all that is wrong with their multi-billion dollar decisions. Rather than do what they should have done under the National Environmental Policy Act, VDOT has now picked an arbitrary terminus for their new project, again failed to look at HOV/transit and financing alternatives, and signed a 75 year contract with no public review.”
I may disagree with Stewart Schwartz on the definition of Smart Growth, but I share his objection to being characterized as a Nazi for insisting on rational transportation planning.
Peter Harnik of the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation also took umbrage in an LTE to the WP:
As a child of Holocaust refugees, I wasn’t thrilled to be called a “nazi” by Steven Pearlstein for trying to keep Interstate 66 at its long-promised four lanes and to return it to its also-promised rush-hour carpools of three persons per car.
However, I will chalk up Mr. Pearlstein’s attack to road rage. I know how he feels — there are times at bus stops and on Metro that I also feel like screaming at someone.
Harnik deplored VDOT’s penchant for road widening, since it will only spawn more congestion and road rage. Actually though, I think that VDOT is merely responding to the vast majority of Northern Virginians, who would rather park on the Beltway than get out of their cars.