Arlington, Alexandria at a Stalemate on Streetcars

New transit corridor will open late next year

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    Speeding streetcar

    At the border of Arlington and Alexandria, the tension between the two governments is reaching a boiling point.

    Late next year, a new transit corridor will open in a stretch of Potomac Yard -- a bus-rapid transit system with dedicated lanes connecting Pentagon City to the Braddock Road Metro. Arlington is making plans to upgrade the bus system to streetcars in the next five years, but Alexandria leaders say streetcars are just too expensive and have no plans to upgrade.

    Walking her dog at the border, resident Rebecca White said Alexandria should be able to afford streetcars.

    "Alexandria always has extra money," she said. "We are one of the richest cities with all of our taxes, so I don't see why it should be a problem."

    Arlington resident Lili Shelton isn't so sure about the county's plans.

    "Many years ago when I was in France, we had streetcars," Shelton said. "They were wonderful but they had the track."

    Shelton said she prefers the aesthetic of Crystal City.

    "We've come to the conclusion that rail is something to consider in the future, but it is not something that is financially viable right now in the short term," Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka said.

    That means that one day soon, transit riders might have to get off the Arlington streetcar at Potomac Yard and get on the Alexandria bus, unless the two jurisdictions come to some kind of agreement.

    Newly elected Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey said that would be a mess. Garvey campaigned on creating better collaboration between Arlington and its neighbors. A resolution on streetcars versus buses might be a good place to start, she said.

    Complete story at wamu.org

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