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Feds pass on funding Columbia Pike streetcar line

WASHINGTON – A streetcar project planned in Arlington and Fairfax counties will not receive federal funding available for new transit projects.

In a joint statement released late Friday, the counties said they heard from the Federal Transit Administration that the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project was not included on a list of projects slated to receive funding in 2014 through the Small Starts/New Starts program.

The counties said they don’t know why the $250 million project was not recommended for funding. But both are committed to continuing the project.

“Arlington, in partnership with Fairfax County, is committed to building a modern streetcar line along Columbia Pike as the best long-term transit investment,” said Arlington County Board Chair J. Walter Tejada in a statement. “We will continue to explore all financing options, including federal financing.”

The announcement came as welcome news to a group that has opposed the project, Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit.

In a statement, the group said that the lack of federal funding is just another sign that Arlington should halt the project and commission an independent cost-benefit analysis of the project.

“This is just the latest wake up call and negative assessment of this project,” the group said.

Small Starts provides up to $75 million for projects that cost less than $250 million to design and build. The counties applied to the program last fall.

Their funding plan for the streetcar line depends on federal, state and local funding, including a local tax on commercial properties dedicated to transportation projects.

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