Arlington Board Votes to Scrap Streetcar Plan

7.4-mile streetcar line would have run between Arlington and Fairfax counties

The Arlington County Board voted 4-1 Tuesday to end funding for a streetcar system planned along Columbia Pike, saying they could no longer ignore political reality.

The 7.4-mile streetcar line would have run between Arlington and Fairfax counties, with the majority of the line in Arlington. It would have connected Crystal City, Potomac Yard and Pentagon City to the Skyline section of Fairfax County.

Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova called Arlington's decision to drop the plan "short-sighted," but said she recognized the lack of support.

"We are both saddened and disappointed" by the Arlington board's decision, Bulova said.

Along Columbia Pike, some of the new high rises and businesses already in place located in anticipation of the streetcar. The executive director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization organization called the Board's decision stunning and predicted stalled growth until a new transit plan is developed.

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fissette said the election of an anti-streetcar candidate, John Vihstadt, to the Arlington County Board served as a proxy for a referendum and that the level of discord became a problem.

Supporters and opponents agreed D.C.'s struggles with its streetcar project also made an impact.

The line was expected to cost $333 million. Arlington would have paid about 80 percent, with Fairfax covering the rest. Officials said the percentage was based on the amount of streetcar segment in each county, as well as ridership expected for each.

Earlier this summer, the Arlington County Board voted 3-2 to award a $26 million engineering and design contract to a Nebraska-based company.

"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," said Arlington County's government website at the time.

Arlington officials had said a streetcar could hold double the passengers of a standard Metrobus.

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