Vote set on Columbia Pike streetcar design

Here\'s the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar route. (Courtesy of Arlington County)

WASHINGTON – After years of discussion, the Arlington County Board will take a final vote on Tuesday to approve a new deal with Fairfax County that will move forward plans for a controversial 5-mile streetcar line along Columbia Pike.

The vote will be for design work that’s been discussed since the 1990s.

The design work would cost $1 million and the streetcar line is estimated to cost at least $300 million

Libby Garvey, an Arlington Board member who has been an opponent of the concept, says the cost is too high.

“If you are going to be spending $300- to $400 million on the project, you really ought to look and see if there is really something else that can meet the same objectives at a lower cost,” she said.

“I believe there is.”

Supporters say the streetcar that would connect to Fairfax County in the Skyline area is needed to spur economic development and housing improvements along Columbia Pike.

“What we’re doing, is really, in my view, increasing the layering and the options for people getting to work, but also for people who live on the pike,” said Board member Mary Hynes.

The street car line was approved in 2006 and 2012. Opponents had asked it be re-evaluated after the federal government rejected a request for some federal funding earlier this year.

Arlington has been touting streetcars as the next generation of transit:

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