For Immediate Release
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Contact: Shannon Whalen McDaniel 703-228-3685 (voice) 703-228-4711(TTY)
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved $3 million in funding and agreements with Fairfax County and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for environmental planning and preliminary design of the Columbia Pike Streetcar.The Board’s actions clear the way for Arlington and Fairfax Counties to this year start the next phase of planning and design for the project. The work will be carried out by WMATA, and is expected to last about two years. During that time, Arlington and Fairfax Counties will examine ways to fund, construct, operate and maintain the proposed streetcar system.
The environmental documentation is expected to meet both state requirements and federal requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act. That will allow the streetcar project to qualify for federal funding, if available. The study will more accurately estimate the streetcar’s construction costs and allocate them between Arlington and Fairfax counties. It also will identify potential funding sources.
The $3 million approved today by the Board will come from the Transportation Investment Fund, created through a commercial real estate tax authorized in 2008 by the Board and dedicated to funding transportation projects. The County expects that the state may reimburse as much as $1 million of the $3 million under state capital formula reimbursement grant funds. The Board also approved using $148,000 in WMATA Project Development Program funds allocated to Arlington County projects for the streetcar environmental planning and preliminary design. Under today’s agreements, costs for most tasks are split 80 percent to Arlington and 20 percent to Fairfax. (About 13 percent of the streetcar’s track mileage is located in Fairfax County, but much of the environmental and design work is not strictly mileage-based).
Arlington introduced the Pike Transit Initiative in 2004 following an intensive community planning effort that produced a new form based code to redevelop the Columbia Pike corridor. The Pike Transit Initiative introduced new bus services and led to a recommendation that a streetcar would improve transit connections linking neighborhoods and town centers along the Columbia Pike Corridor with employment centers and the regional Metrorail system.
In spring 2006 both Arlington and Fairfax counties endorsed a streetcar line between Pentagon City and Skyline as the preferred transit alternative for the Columbia Pike Corridor. Since then, WMATA has worked with Arlington and Fairfax staffs on technical studies to advance the project.
The five-mile streetcar will move more people, more efficiently than the current Pike Ride bus service. For most of the route, the streetcar would operate in mixed traffic, generally running in the curb lane of the street. The stops would be about one-third mile apart. It is expected to act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the corridor and foster a pedestrian-friendly “main street” environment for residents, visitors and commuters to enjoy.
Over the last two years the Columbia Pike Initiative has seen substantial new development. The Halstead, a 269 unit residential building with 42,000 square feet of retail space was delivered earlier this year. Sienna Park, a mixed use residential, retail and office project on the site of the former Safeway is under construction and scheduled to be delivered in the 4th Quarter of 2009. Sienna Park will have 188 residential units, 32,000 square feet of retail space, and 15,000 square feet of offices. At the other end of Columbia Pike, 55 Hundred, a 235 unit residential building, is scheduled to be delivered in the 2nd Quarter of 2009. The largest project, Penrose, has now received financing and should break ground in the 2nd Quarter of 2009, it will have 299 residential units and nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space, including a new 61,500 square foot Giant grocery. To date, the plans and policies put in place with the Columbia Pike Initiative have been highly successful and will continue to generate new development for years to come.
Arlington, Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the "10 miles square" parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. It is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, occupying slightly less than 26 square miles. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods, quality schools and enlightened land use, and received the Environmental Protection Agency's highest award for "Smart Growth" in 2002. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world - including the Pentagon - Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.