Monday, July 09, 2012

“Other” Arlington, Va., streetcar route OK’d

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Members of the Arlington Transportation Commission in Virginia voted 10-0 last Thursday to support the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar initiative, overshadowed in recent weeks by a second streetcar effort being advanced by Arlington County and neighboring Alexandria, Va.

Arlington County Board members are expected to give formal approval July 21 to the five-mile streetcar route traversing its namesake road, linking MetroRail's Pentagon City Station with points west.

Both proponents and opponents of the rail plan expect the county to approve the plan, though opponents continue to insist a "lower-cost option involving buses" would be a preferable approach.

Estimate cost for the route is $250 million, with backers seeking $75 million in federal funding, which remains uncertain.

"By providing increased travel capacity, positive environmental and clear economic investment benefits, the streetcar is clearly the best transit option for Columbia Pike," Commission Chairman John Grant said to local media.

Arlington and Alexandria also are pursuing another streetcar line, also five miles in length, as a separate project. "The Route 1 Corridor Streetccar Conversion Project" would also use MetroRail's Pentagon City Metro Station and running along U.S. Route 1 to the MetroRail Braddock Road Metro Station in Alexandria.