For Immediate Release
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Contact: Mary Curtius 703-228-7943 (voice) 703-228-4611(TTY)
Transfer could be finalized as early as Oct. 1
Arlington will be responsible for roadway operations from County Line to Joyce St.
Transfer will speed Pike revitalization, street car program
* The Board formally approved the transfer at the September 25, 2010 Board meeting.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette today welcomed the decision by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to transfer Columbia Pike to Arlington County government control.
“The transfer of Columbia Pike is a major milestone for Arlington and the vibrant and diverse neighborhoods along the Pike,” Fisette said. “By owning the road, Arlington will be able to speed up the Pike’s transformation from suburban highway to Main Street. This is a big step forward in our efforts to make the Pike more accessible, pedestrian and transit-friendly – and that is good for our local businesses and the community.”
The transfer will be complete only after Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Commissioner Gregory A. Whirley executes a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the County and the County Board ratifies the agreement. The Board will take up the MOA with VDOT at its Sept. 25 Board meeting.
The agreement allows the County to assume full control of the right-of-way from the Arlington-Fairfax County Line to Joyce Street and significantly reduces VDOT’s involvement in road-related projects along the corridor. Arlington already maintains all of the traffic signals, streetscape, and bus stops in the corridor and paid for virtually all street improvements and transit service. Once the transfer is complete, the County will be responsible for additional maintenance and operating expenses estimated to cost $660,000 annually. VDOT will retain control of the roadway at the Glebe Road crossing and the Washington Boulevard interchange, but will convey certain rights to the County at those key intersections.
As a result of the agreement, the County is no longer required to go through VDOT’s time-consuming and costly review process for construction projects on Columbia Pike. Many of those projects – including a proposed plan to build a streetcar system along the Pike – are not typical of VDOT plans and required extra time to review and approve. By minimizing these delays, especially when the streetcar system is built, the County expects to realize significant savings.
In the past 10 years, the County has spent more than $12 million on capital projects along the Pike – all of which required design approval and permits from VDOT. The County has allocated another $9.5 million for planned street infrastructure and utility undergrounding improvements, which are already underway along the Pike.
The County government, residents and the business community have worked together for more than 15 years to create a plan for an urban, pedestrian-focused and transit-oriented main street along Columbia Pike. Together, the stakeholders developed the Form-Based Code that is helping transform the Pike.
In March 2002, the Board adopted a revitalization plan, the Columbia Pike Initiative, based on extensive community involvement. More than one million square feet of redevelopment based on that plan is now complete, including more than 1,000 new housing units and 137,000 square feet of street-front retail space along the Pike.
A streetcar system has been identified as a solution to address the increasing transit demand along the Pike. The system will ease traffic congestion, improve commutes and encourage land owners and developers to continue to improve and to invest in the planned development along Columbia Pike.
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.