Columbia Pike Streetcar to Get $65M in New State Funding from Commonwealth of Virginia

Great news for the Columbia Pike Streetcar. The Commonwealth of Virginia will increase its funding to the project by up to $65 million. This will bring the state’s contribution to as much as 50% of total design and construction costs of the streetcar project.

Great news for the Columbia Pike Streetcar. The Commonwealth of Virginia will increase its funding to the project by as much as $65 million. This will bring the state’s  contribution to as much as 50 percent of total design and construction costs for the streetcar project.

The 4.9-mile Columbia Pike streetcar will run from the Skyline area of Fairfax to Pentagon City in Arlington, along what is considered the most heavily traveled bus corridor in Virginia. It is just a part of Arlington’s planned 7.4-mile seamless streetcar system, which is expected to help transform Pike into a more transit-oriented, walkable Main Street. Arlington and Fairfax counties are working together on the project, and the grant will be split between the two, with Arlington receiving $52 million and the remaining $13 million going to Fairfax.

With the state’s help, Arlington will now be able to put together a financial package for the project that does not include Federal Transportation Administration New Starts funding. The increased state funding will also help move up the project’s completion date. It is expected to shave off at least one year of construction time, bringing project delivery to 2020 and saving about $25 million. As a result, the total construction cost will drop to $333 million.

“This additional state funding is great news for the streetcar,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement for the press. “It is both a strong vote of confidence that the streetcar is a transit investment that will benefit the entire commonwealth, and brings funding certainty that significantly boosts our efforts to build the Columbia Pike segment more quickly, at reduced cost.”

Arlington will cover its share of the streetcar’s cost through a combination of regional transportation funding and local commercial real estate tax revenues. No Arlington County homeowner-funded General Obligation bonds will be used. The Arlington County Board is expected to adopt its Capital Improvement Plan on July 19; it includes the updated costs and schedule for the project.

According to a study released in March, the streetcar is expected to generate between $3.2 billion and $4.4 billion in new real estate value for Arlington and Fairfax counties over 30 years, as well as $455 million to $895 million in new tax revenue for both counties. It will also create 6,600 new jobs in the area within 10 years, and increase state income and sales taxes.

Photo credit: Arlington County