How will Arlington pay for its streetcar system?
Arlington is making a strategic investment in streetcars, just as it did a half-century ago in Metrorail. By investing in this crucial infrastructure now, the County is ensuring that the heavily traveled Route 1 corridor and Columbia Pike, areas that are growing rapidly, will attract high-quality development and become more transit oriented and pedestrian friendly. Modern streetcar lines are far less costly to build than subways or even light rail — and they pay big community dividends.
Because both streetcar segments are still in the planning stages, costs shown below are preliminary estimates and will change as plans are finalized and construction gets underway. Arlington is partnering with neighboring Fairfax County on the Columbia Pike streetcar, and will share both capital and operating costs with that jurisdiction.
The County is putting together streetcar funding plans that rely on multiple sources of dedicated transportation funds and ensure that Arlington stays within its debt and financial plans. Project costs are currently being refined as part of the FY 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan process.
Here is Arlington’s planned streetcar system by the numbers:
Columbia Pike streetcar (preliminary estimates):
Estimated capital cost: $250 million. That total includes the following funding sources:
- Estimated federal funding: $75 million (30% of total project cost)
- Estimated state reimbursement: $35 million (14% of total project cost)
- Estimated local share: $140 million, divided as follows between the two jurisdictions:
— Arlington’s estimated local share: $105-112 million
— Fairfax’s estimated local share: $28 million
Estimated operating cost: $3.6 million annually
Route 1 streetcar (preliminary estimates):
Estimated capital cost: $144 million. That total includes the following funding sources:
- Estimated state reimbursement: $33 million
- Estimated funding from additional tax revenues generated by new development planned for Crystal City, commercial real estate tax and GO bonds: $111 million
Estimated operating cost: $3-5 million annually