Metro, hired consultants call for streetcar
By CHRISTY GOODMAN
Examiner Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 10:43 PM EDT
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Arlington residents have been presented with a plan to help them zip into the future.
Metro, along with hired consultants, recommended a high-capacity, environmentally friendly modified streetcar to run from Bailey's Crossroads to Pentagon City on Columbia Pike at a public meeting Monday night at the Arlington Career Center.
The meeting was held to update residents on the "Columbia Pike Initiative," a study on ways to improve transit on Columbia Pike to meet future transportation demands.
By 2015 the new transit, a mix between streetcars and clean fuel-burning buses, would run swiftly along the right lane with vehicular traffic in the left lane.
"I'm excited because it will happen within my lifetime," said Judith Richter, a 17-year resident of the western end of Columbia Pike, who said she thinks with the new transit proposal there will be less traffic on the road.
The proposed plan would cost some $120 million to build, a cost to be shared between Fairfax and Arlington counties.
Creativity in funding
Arlington Board Member Chris Zimmerman said both boards would have to approve the project individually then look at creative funding options.
Zimmerman, who called the investment "modest" compared to the cost of a new school, said, "It is big enough that it is not easy, but it is small enough that it is plausible."
Most residents were concerned that current traffic woes would be exacerbated with streetcars or buses dominating the right lane.
The Columbia Pike Street Space Plan, adopted by the Arlington Board in 2003, would create dedicated left-turn lanes, add greenery, smooth manhole covers and make transportation improvements along Arlington's main street.
James R. Hamre of Arlington's Department of Environmental Services' Transportation division said, "All of that is assumed to be in place before this scenario."
Metro's Robin McElhenny explained that the modified streetcar would make stops between a third of a mile and a half-mile apart, with closer stops in high-density areas.
Jill Lewis, a Columbia Pike resident since 1986, said the plan would encourage pedestrian traffic.
Martin Chadzynski of Arlington Heights, an officer formerly stationed at the Pentagon, expressed concern over the additional transit adding to the Pentagon's "mob scene" of traffic.