Sudden Reversal on Columbia Pike Street Car Project
After years of discussion, votes, exploratory committees, and state funding commitments, the Arlington County Board of Supervisors (with new members recently elected) have decided, in their questionable wisdom, to cancel the Columbia Pike Street Car Project. Annandale had hung great hopes on seeing Fairfax County extend their portion of the project all along Columbia Pike to Annandale, and onto Fairfax Corner, connecting us conveniently to Metro at one end, shopping at both ends, and to encourage greater retail revitalization along all of Columbia Pike.
The Arlington County Board of Supervisors has been repeatedly criticized for Fiscal Irresponsibility largely generated by local dismay at spending $1 Million on a bus stop shelter. Rather than ducking from public scrutiny, and appropriately separating past mistakes from current needs, the Arlington County Board made a very near-sighted decision. The Columbia Pike Streetcar Project is the future for at least South Arlington, and should be seen as a vital & necessary investment in transportation.
Local comments from Arlington residents ran from, "Are they mad?" to, "That new Arlington Board should be impeached and thrown out of town!" Another enraged citizen expressed an interesting point of view. "Doesn't the board see, Metro is for the young yuppies and people with expense accounts in North Arlington. The streetcar was for the rest of us, maybe not exactly poor, but on a very tight budget and without cars.” In fact, this decision underscores the historical divide between the wealth of North Arlington, and the lack of it in South Arlington. Residents of the northern region oppose having their taxes used to fund a transportation system they will not likely use. Conversely, taxes from South Arlington did help fund the Metro.
We can only hope that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will not be so near sighted and work to connect Bailey's and Annandale, to Fairfax and beyond with a street car system of their own. Possibly all the state funding that had been made available to Arlignton County, could be transferred for use by Fairfax county. And too, there will always be another election. Below, is the statement released by Chairman Sharon Bulova (Fairfax County) November 18, 2014.
Statement from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Supervisor Penny Gross regarding Columbia Pike Streetcar Project
We are both saddened and disappointed by the Arlington Board’s decision to end the Columbia Pike Streetcar project. More than a decade of work has gone into the project, and the streetcar alternative for Columbia Pike has been approved by both the Arlington and Fairfax County boards on multiple occasions. Recently, considerable progress has been made towards completing the project in 2020. We continue to believe that the implementation of the streetcar would provide both transportation and economic development benefits to the corridor, as demonstrated repeatedly through multiple analyses. In addition, businesses and residents in both counties have been eagerly waiting its arrival.
We also want to express our sincere appreciation to Governor Terry McAuliffe, Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne and Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Jennifer Mitchell for their personal and professional interest in the project and their support for their financial support of the project. We are grateful for their willingness to assist with this important transportation priority for eastern Fairfax County.
Although we believe the decision to end the project is short-sighted, we recognize that the project cannot happen without the support of the Arlington Board. However, we remain committed to providing high quality transit for the residents, workers and businesses in the Bailey’s Crossroads area. Such transit is important to unlocking the potential in this area of Fairfax County and will assist the area in transforming itself into the attractive, urban destination with a supportive transportation system.