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Feds Skip Funding Columbia Pike Streetcar in 2014

Arlington and Fairfax officials are seeking clarification and say they will continue to pursue federal funding for the controversial project.

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.

Rob Whitfield April 15, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Here's a news item from Everett, Washington about the 23 Enviro 500s operated in the Seattle area by Community Transit. http://www.commtrans.org/projects/doubletall/ The double decker buses are 42 feet long and 14 feet tall. They seat 77 passengers – 49 upstairs, 28 downstairs – plus have designated standing room. Compared to the 60-foot, 60-seat buses they are replacing, Double Talls seat more passengers in less road space, easing crowding on popular commuter routes as well as on Seattle streets and at Community Transit’s Kasch Park base in Everett. Thanks to our zealous grant writers, federal and state funding paid 89 percent of the cost of these buses, which are needed to replace articulated buses in service since 1998. Only 11 percent of the funding for the Double Talls came from Community Transit's capital reserve budget. The Double Tall buses require less maintenance (since there’s no joint in the middle) and use less fuel than the articulated buses, and are expected to handle better in snowy road conditions. Then there is this April 1, 2013 Community Transit news release: Make That a Double Venti: New Buses Will Quaduple Rider Capacity http://www.commtrans.org/newsrelease/1519 Caution! Check out the last line!
julie April 15, 2013 at 07:10 PM
That is like being told by Arlington Independent Media that I have to take a production course so I can produce a program to show Arlingtonians what BRT alternatives to streetcars look like. Same Patch from that features shoplifting from convenience stores as major local news? Give us a break, Mr. Spencer. Somebody or somebodies is/are putting a lot of heat on the local media to prevent information about BRT from appearing. You won't even post a photo of the Vegas BRT.
Janet April 15, 2013 at 10:45 PM
What kind of 'journalism" is the following excuse for not posting information about alternatives to streetcars on the Pike: "You're basically asking me to legitimize your argument, which I'm not comfortable doing at this point". Who or what is making you uncomfortable about posting relevant information? Here's a link to a video about the successful Las Vegas Super Deuce double deck bus...another Pike transit option that's not being discussed in the local media: www.youtube.com/watch?v=dctwqxy6Ohg
julie April 16, 2013 at 12:34 AM
FYI, it's illegal for anyone to repeatedly threaten the news media with loss of revenue for posting newsworthy information. Do a search on the term RICO
A.B. April 16, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Why don't the local media tell the truth about about news blackout of information about bus alternatives to the Pike streetcar? It's being coordinated by the County Manager's PR team. Why do I have to visit the Arlington Yupette blog to know what's going on in this County?

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