Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne announced the move in a letter dated Thursday, July 10, 2014, and addressed to the two counties. Local media reported the $65 million in dedicated streetcar funding was more than the counties had anticipated.
The move also is significant because it signals a willingness by various governmental agencies to consider an alternative to the time-consuming process of securing federal funds, through either the New Starts or Small Starts programs offered by the Federal Transit Administration. Project supporters had contemplated seeking $75 million in federal funding for the five-mile line, estimated to cost $250 million.
In the case of the Columbia Pike project, such a process offered an opportunity for anti-rail partisans to attack the project in hopes of delaying and, eventually, killing the plan on both fiscal and political levels.
Arlington County will receive $52 million of the new grant, while Fairfax County will garner $13 million.
Arlington County officials believe the state funding boost could advance construction scheduled significantly, and save considerable costs of construction as well.