An official website of Arlington County government


(Updated July 2014)

How will Arlington pay for its streetcar system?


Arlington’s finance plan to build the entire 7.4-mile streetcar system includes zero homeowner-financed General Obligation bonds. More than ninety percent of the finance plan leverages state and regional funds matched with commercial real estate tax revenues that can only be spent for new transportation projects. The balance will come from a fund dedicated to infrastructure investment in Crystal City.

Because both streetcar segments are 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 this segment’s capital and operating costs with Fairfax.

Columbia Pike streetcar:

The estimated capital cost is $333 million. Arlington’s share is projected at $268 million, with partner Fairfax County funding the remainder.

Virginia’s Transportation Secretary notified Arlington and Fairfax County officials in July 2014 that the Commonwealth will increase its funding for the Columbia Pike streetcar by up to $65 million. Read the state’s letter (PDF). The State’s commitment enabled Arlington to put together a financial package for the project that does not include Federal Transportation Administration New Starts funding.

Streetcar funding source charts

Funding sources for the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar segments ($ in millions)

Arlington’s share includes the following funding sources:

  • State: $134.1 million (50%)
  • Regional: $64.2 million (24%)
  • Commercial real estate tax: $69.8 million (26%)
    • A commercial real estate tax supports Arlington’s Transportation Capital Fund, which can only be used for new transportation projects.

Crystal City streetcar:

The estimated capital cost is $217 million. Arlington plans to fund this project with the following sources:

  • State: $54.3 million (25%)
  • Regional: $24.3 million (11%)
  • Commercial real estate tax: $100.5 million (46%)
  • Crystal City infrastructure fund: $38.3 million (18%)
    • The Crystal City infrastructure fund is formally named the Crystal City, Potomac Yard, Pentagon City Tax Increment Financing Fund. It captures a portion of the increase in property tax revenues created by development or redevelopment in these areas.