Federal Funding Rejected But Plans Continue
According to the Washington Post, Federal officials rejected Arlington's request for Small Starts funding for the Columbia Pike streetcar as they feld the project will be more costly than the $250 million project sponsors estimate. In fact, the FTA thinks the actual cost could double.
Nonethelss, project sponsors vow to persevere, and will turn their attention to the Federal New Starts program, which funds larger projects than Small Starts. Planning will continue and is now reportedly 90 percent complete.
Local contributions to the cost of the line are anticipated to be $104 million from Arlington (raised from real estate tax transportation funds), $35 million from Fairfax County, and $35 million from the state. Officials are also considering tax increment funding to raise more of the capital cost.
The bus line along Columbia Pike is the heaviest in the State of Virginia, carrying 16,000 passengers daily. The country plans nearly doubling the number of residential units along the Pike, and wants to implement streetcars to handle the anticipated higher level of demand.
Streetcars Could Run on H Street by Fall 2013
WTOP reported on May 1, 2013 that as streetcars enter the testing phase they could be in service on H Street and Benning Road before the end of the year.
The three Czech-made cars currently owned by the City have been moved to the Anacostia Testing and Commissioning Site landing on some of the District's new street car rails for the first time. The route in Anacostia was originally planned to be the first stretch to enter service, but the focus swung to the H Street corridor once track was laid there as part of a street rebuilding process.
The DC Department of Transportation is planning to hire the first eight operations and maintenance staff in the coming months.