Arlington and Fairfax counties announced Friday afternoon that federal funds expected to cover nearly one-third of the cost of the $250 million Columbia Pike streetcar project will not be available next year.
The controversial project would connect Pentagon City with Bailey's Crossroads, and public outcry has sharpened thanks in part to opponents finding a champion in Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey.
Arlington and Fairfax counties applied to the Federal Transit Administration's Small Starts program for partial funding in September 2012.
The streetcar's funding plan assumed the feds would kick in $75 million, the largest amount the FTA program awards. State and local dollars would pay for the balance.
Arlington and Fairfax counties have been informed that the streetcar was not included in the FTA's funding recommendations for fiscal year 2014.
Arlington has not received any evaluation of the project or explanation of the FTA's decision, county board Chairman Walter Tejada said in a statement. The county is seeking clarification.
“Arlington, in partnership with Fairfax County, is committed to building a modern streetcar line along Columbia Pike as the best long term transit investment. We will continue to explore all financing options, including federal financing. While we are disappointed at not being included this year, we believe our application was strong, and will continue to work with FTA for inclusion into the Small Starts/New Starts program," Tejada stated.
“The Pike streetcar will address the community’s needs by providing greater capacity on one of the Commonwealth’s most heavily traveled corridors. It will encourage more people to use transit, will reduce congestion, help us meet our affordable housing goals, and will support the sort of development that the community wants.”
The Arlington County news release points out that the transportation bill Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed this year "makes more money available to Northern Virginia for infrastructure investments such as the streetcar." That bill allows for a 0.7 percent sales tax increase in Northern Virginia to fund transportation projects.
Work on the streetcar project continues, including conceptual engineering and environmental efforts, the news release states.