Columbia Pike Street Car Project Approved 

By:  M. Callahan

Modern day street car uses the sidewalks as loading platforms.The Columbia Pike Streetcar Plan (a joint project with Arlington County) has been approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors after many years of consideration. 

According to Chairman Sharon Bulova, “The streetcar will relieve congestion and present economic development opportunities for the Skyline area and serve a population with the demonstrated support and need for transit,”  Bulova continued, “Light rail has the potential to become an important part of the transportation network as we look to add new options and expand service in Fairfax County.”The line will run 4.9 miles from Pentagon City in Arlington County to Skyline in Fairfax County. Three stations are planned in Fairfax County's portion of the line at Goodwin House, Jefferson Street and Skyline where the highest bus ridership in Northern Virginia at 16,000 riders per day can be found.  Since streetcars can accommodate more riders than buses and ridership is expected to double in the next eighteen years, this is good news.    

According to a joint study released by Chairman Bulova’s office, Fairfax and Arlington surveyed developers who viewed the following as benefits to the streetcar plan.

  • 60 percent said that higher quality transit, like a streetcar, was very important or important in choosing to develop along the corridor
  • 64 percent said that a streetcar would cause them to add more residential units to their developments (32 percent indicated a 25 percent or greater increase in    units while another 32 percent reported a 4 to 14 percent increase)
  • 70 percent said that a streetcar would increase retail sales volume per square foot
  • 40 percent reported that they were more likely to develop along the corridor as opposed to other places in Fairfax or Arlington without rail service.
  • 4-10% increase in property values within a quarter mile of the line
  • 10% new development along the corridor
  • Addition of $82 million in sales revenue, taxes, businesses licenses and other fees over 30 years.
  • $156 million of additional property tax from increased development over 30 years.

The Bailey's area is expected to experience a population growth of 21% and a job growth of 23% by 2030.  In this revitalization area, as in most, the transit oriented development strategy is a vital component in creating a mixed-use urban center.  The streetcar plan will also reduce pollution and the dependency on automobiles.

It is hoped that this streetcar line will be extended further along Columbia Pike, sooner rather than later, through Annandale's portion of Mason District and on into Fairfax via Route 236.  Without a county backed project to jump start redevelopment in Annandale's Central Business District, revitalization does not seem likely.

July 2014  -  Read more about increased state funding for this project.....

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