Who runs your street? Different governments overlap, so Arlington, VA is simplifying.

Commuters may soon see safer bicycle lanes and pedestrian facilities in Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, though the details are up to you. So why weren’t they there before? Blame the unsteady balance that our many levels of government strike as they work together to maintain and plan every street in the region.

Arlington County recently acquired Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N., a thoroughfare through Clarendon and Ballston, from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). In the past, it had been difficult for Arlington to coordinate with VDOT. Now, the county can take initiative and Fairfax Drive may soon see the results.

Though it’s not obvious, the roads you use every day are owned by an overlapping patchwork of governments, regulatory bodies, and private interests. This isn’t a story of tyrannical state governments imposing their will upon localities, but of intergovernmental coordination that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.