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.
Because both streetcar lines are still in the planning stages, costs here 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 be sharing both capital and operating costs with that jurisdiction. Costs are split proportionately, according to ridership. On Route 1, Arlington and the City of Alexandria continue to work on determining the scope of the project.
With each streetcar line, the County has put together funding plans that rely on multiple sources and ensure that Arlington will stay within the County’s debt and financial plans as it builds and operates its streetcar system.
Modern streetcar lines are far less costly that subways or even light rail to build — and they pay big community dividends. 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 million-$112 million
— Fairfax’s estimated local share : $28 million
Estimated operating costs: $3.6 million annually beginning in 2018
Route 1 streetcar (preliminary estimates):
- Estimated capital cost for Arlington’s segment: $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 costs: $3 million to $5 million, starting in 2019