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Northern Virginia wrestles with streetcar line ideas

Sunday - 5/13/2012, 8:23am  ET

streetcar512.jpg
Downtown D.C. is also working on a streetcar line with cars like this one. (Courtesy of ddot.dc.gov)

WASHINGTON - It's a tale of two cities, involving a streetcar line.

Some say it's a game of chicken between Arlington and Alexandria. Others say they can come together over Four Mile Run.

Arlington is going after Small Starts funding under the Federal Transit Administration for the Columbia Pike streetcar project. Alexandria is trying to get Small Starts funding for the Crystal City-Potomac Yard transit corridor.

There may be a compromise. Instead of extending the streetcar line from the Arlington border to the Braddock Road metro, it could end near the new Potomac Yard Metro station. The two jurisdictions would apply for a grant that would include a stop on the Arlington side and extend through Alexandria to the new station.

But it won't be cheap.

The cost of a compromise on the issue comes to around $40 million. Tim Lovain, the Northern Virginia Streetcar Coalition chairman, is urging the area to consider it.

The FTA would pick up the tab for half the cost under the Small Starts program. If Arlington contributes between $5 million and $10 million, the hope is that Alexandria might just cover the rest. Arlington would then have its valuable streetcar line terminate at a Metro station, while Alexandria would get funding for a pilot streetcar project.

WTOP's Rosemary Frisino Toohey contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)