Streetcar plans end abruptly in Arlington County

Plans to bring streetcars to Columbia Pike and Crystal City were brought to an immediate halt yesterday in Arlington County, as officials decided not to move forward with the project. The streetcars were part of an effort to bring greater development to the county, however, some opponents saw it as excessive. (WaPo, 11/18)

The streetcars figured prominently in proposals to bring new housing and retail and office space to struggling neighborhoods. They typified the county’s historic embrace of mass transit and its strategic use of transportation projects to trigger development in trendy neighborhoods, including Clarendon and Ballston.

But a vocal contingent of Arlingtonians questioned the promised benefits of the project — whose price tag eventually reached $550 million — and wondered whether it was an example of county-funded excess.

Transit projects are stuck between people who want to spend less money and people who want to spend more (GGW, 11/19)

– Yesterday, the D.C. Council approved a bill that defines what constitutes as a “private room” for homeless families in shelters. This comes after a judge ruled against the practice of sheltering families in recreation centers last winter. (DCist, 11/18)

For homeless families, District center searches for options beyond the shelter (WaPo, 11/18)

ARTS | In a push to make the arts more accessible to all people, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has announced the Free Will program where they will give away 1,000 tickets at no cost for each production during the current season. (Washingtonian, 11/18)

ENVIRONMENT | The U.S. Forest Service released a final plan for future oil and gas drilling, including the controversial practice of fracking, that would be restricted to just 16 percent of George Washington National Forest. Many are pleased with the announcement amid fears of pollution in the region’s drinking water and threats to the landscape if widespread drilling had been planned. (WaPo, 11/18)

Related: Last year, Cecily Kihn, Executive Director of the Agua Fund and Megan Gallagher, a trustee of the Hillsdale Fund, co-wrote about the future of fracking in our region, and how funders can help to prepare for it. (Daily, 12/2013)

– Which state are Americans paying the most for their groceries? That would be Virginia, according to a new study. Shoppers in Idaho pay the least. (WJLA, 11/18)

The groceries required to cook and serve a healthy meal runs shoppers an average of $27.48, almost twice the national average of $14.99. Maryland shoppers pay slightly less than the national average for that same bag of groceries, shelling out $14.09. The study did not include the District.

– After several years in the making, a new film, out in theaters on Friday, considers the sustainability of our nation’s food supply from a social standpoint. Food Chains examines the life of America’s farm workers. The filmmakers hope that by sharing the stories they uncovered of troubling labor conditions, low wages, and sometimes even abuse and slavery, Americans will take some simple actions to ensure better conditions for the hands that feed us.

Tomorrow, is the big day! WRAG’s 2014 Annual Meeting will take place at the Hamilton Live, so there will not be a news roundup. We’ll be back on Friday!