Arlington has awarded a $26 million contract for a 7.4-mile streetcar line between Fairfax and Arlington counties.
Most of the line is expected to run in Arlington, connecting Pentagon City to the Skyline section of Fairfax County. The line also will reach Crystal City and Potomac Yard.
The Arlington County Board voted 3-2 late Tuesday to award an engineering and design contract to Nebraska-based HDR Engineering, which has worked on the D.C. streetcar project and others around the world.
The company will develop preliminary design plans for the entire streetcar line, said Arlington officials. High-capacity streetcars will work alongside buses to a rapidly growing population in the area.
Columbia Pike is currently the most heavily traveled bus route in Virginia.
"By 2035, transit ridership along the Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar route is expected to more than double, as the population along this corridor doubles," according to Arlington County's government website. "More than 60 percent of these trips will be on streetcar."
Arlington officials say a streetcar could hold double the passengers of a standard Metrobus. Officials want to accommodate more people in fewer vehicles to improve traffic.
"The start of preliminary engineering is a major milestone, and keeps us on track to start streetcar service in 2020," said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette in a press release.
Preliminary engineering is expected to take 18 months.
The line is expected to cost $333 million. Arlington is paying about 80 percent of the cost, with Fairfax covering the rest. Officials say the percentage is based on the amount of streetcar segment in each county, as well as ridership expected for each.
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