Driving out the government?


When staffers from the citys transportation department explained their rationale for chasing grants for sustainable transit projects, they probably didnt plan on entering a philosophical debate on government (over)reach.
The $3 million annual federal and state grants, which would fund bicycle sharing programs and transit studies among several other initiatives, would require no city funding. But the Alexandria City Council could not reach unanimity, voting 5-2 in favor of applying for the grants.
Councilwoman Alicia Hughes and Councilman Frank Fannon voted against the measure.
Im against the government influence, Fannon said, responding to Mayor Euille who questioned his commitment to a green city. I think if people want to figure out how to get somewhere on a bus or a bike, they dont need the government to spend 4 million to tell them how to do it. I think people can figure it out on their own.
If Alexandria doesnt chase the money, somebody else will, Euille said.
Rich Baier, the citys director of transportation, made no bones about the citys desire to get people out of their cars. The city as a whole will ultimately benefit from cleaner air and less congestion, he said.
Hughes favored the grants conceptually, she said, but questioned whether using the state and federal money would be frivolous.