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Washington - January 2013

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Washington, DC — Arlington County Streetcar

January 2013

Arlington County's plans for a 2.5 mile streetcar line along Route 1 between Crystal City and the Alexandria line has been proceeding more quietly than other streetcar and light rail plans in the DC area, the Washington Post reports.

The objective of the line is to create a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with higher density businesses and residences.

Crystal City has a high rise profile, but to the south is the less dense Potomac Yard, once the site of a railroad yard. Significant economic growth is forecast for the area. This will dictate the need for a high capacity transit system connecting with Metrorail. Buses will not be able to handle the anticipated passenger loads.

Current cost estimates for the project total $146 million. A major source of revenue is Arlington's commercial real estate tax. Sponsors hope to attract state transportation funding as well. Further, a special taxing district covering the anticipated route has been set up to allow tax increment financing to capture future land value increases to help fund the project.

Planners hope the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar will be completed first, as the Arlington line would share its maintenance facility.

Plans for the Crystal City line call for dedicated lanes for streetcar use, so the cars would not have to share traffic lanes.

It is hoped final design of the line would be finished in mid-2014, with construction starting in 2016, and operation in 2019.

Hynes, who hands over the chairmanship of the Arlington County Board on Tuesday, noted that the planning for what happens in Crystal City pre-dated her five-year tenure. But she compared the current work with the long-term planning that previous generations of Arlington leaders did when Metrorail was being built and earlier, when state and federal officials wanted to turn the inner suburb into a web of highways feeding distant commuters to the District.

Arlington officials see the line as leading to improvements in the neighborhood sense of place, in reduced polution, and in quality of life.

On the map below, the proposed Columbia Pike line is the straight line running from right to left, and the Crystal City route is the vertical line in red to the right.

Arlington Streetcar Map


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