Speak Out: Do You Support the Columbia Pike 'Streetcar'?

The project, which is endorsed by both Fairfax and Arlington counties, will run from Falls Church to Pentagon City.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors officially endorsed the on Tuesday.

Developing better transit has become one of the main priorities in Fairfax County and the streetcar is expected to help alleviate much of the congestion in Fairfax County. The project, which was in late July, will provide a way for residents to travel from the Skyline area of Falls Church in Fairfax County to Pentagon City.

Although the project is supported by the board, not all residents are happy with the idea of a streetcar.

"This is really dumb. It was not a coincidence that streetcars became obsolete," said one Patch reader in reaction to the board's decision.

It is estimated that the streetcar will cost approximately $6 million a year to run.  Both Fairfax and Arlington counties are expected to pay for 56 percent, or $137 million, of the project, pending federal dollars.

Tell us: Do you agree with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and their support of the Streetcar?

Michelle Herrera August 02, 2012 at 01:21 PM
What's the difference between a street car and a bus?
Gordon August 02, 2012 at 01:57 PM
I don't understand how this plan is expected to provide significant transit benefits over what could be done with additional busses. How did this end up being designed as a mixed-traffic line? Without segregation from traffic a streetcar's lack of maneuverability makes it no faster or more reliable than a bus. This was a perfect opportunity to redesign Columbia Pike in a way that prioritizes mass transit over personal automobiles. Why was that opportunity wasted? In my opinion this looks like a development project instead of a transportation project; an attempt to use mass transit support to increase property values, increase tax revenues, and over time force poor folk to pack their bags and move elsewhere.
Gordon August 02, 2012 at 02:05 PM
From: http://www.humantransit.org/2010/03/streetcars-vs-light-rail-is-there-a-difference.html "(b) new streetcars especially are driven by a redevelopment agenda, where proponents are often frank that triggering the development outcome is simply more important that the usefulness of the service as transit." I guess proponents and politicians elsewhere are more frank and honest than in Arlington and Fairfax.
Carl August 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM
This is basically a bus with tracks in the middle of the road and more wires overhead. Spend less and buy better buses if you want people to ride transit.
keith mahone August 02, 2012 at 04:40 PM
If you put a streetcar in, can't you put another lane or two in? And why do you need the permanent tracks? Why not just use buses? Is this supposed to add charm to the blighted area, like New Orleans or San Fransisco or something? This only works when the architectural/landscape profile and other attractions compliment the trolley. Columbia Pike is just visual blight from one end to the other. And if there is going to be a Columbia Pike Streetcar, why shouldn't it go all the way to Little River Turnpike? This seems like pork to me. The ultimate goal is to get money into the favored developer's hands.
Gordon August 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
@Carl, It doesn't even look like they thought of putting the tracks in the middle of the road! The artists misconception above shows them in the outside lanes! One inconsiderate driver stopped at the curb brings transit to a halt. And we have no shortage of inconsiderate drivers in NoVA! Another issue that totally befuddles me is why end this at Skyline? Mark Center is only a short distance further and is a huge problem in need of a solution. Of course Mark Center is in Alexandria which would require politicians to work together for a solution that focuses on common good rather than create something like this that is the least common denominator of their individual narrow interests. Pull the plug on this and instead spend money on traffic-separated bus lanes with a mix of local and express stops and traffic signal priority control. Yes, serve Columbia Pike to Skyline but don't stop there; keep going past Skyline, past Mark Center and down Van Dorn St. to the Metro station. This would at least honestly address the often mentioned shelving of rail service many years ago. What's being proposed instead is a poorly-veiled attempt to spread the affluence of Crystal City up Columbia PIke using transit as an excuse.
Brian August 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Streetcars which run in a neutral ground area are very practical. New orleans made a huge mistake years ago when they took cars off track. Still, the St. Charles and Carolton lines are very effective at moving tourist and residents. I am a proponent of public transportation, but I do not see this as a workable solution for Columbia Pike. I drequently drive CP from Annandale to Bailey's, then get onto 50 for further travel. Perhaps smaller, alternative energy buses would work. They only time I rode a bus here, the trip seemed endless. I pitty the folks who must rely on buses to get to the metro.
Carl August 02, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Good point. I didn't notice the placement of the tracks. I totally agree. A bus can go around an accident or burst pipe in the road. A trolley can't.
John Strother August 03, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Trolley cars are a thing from the past, which should remain in the past. I want the county to do drug and alcohol testing before they vote on anything. This sure sounds like a pipe dream. What were the County folks on?
Gordon August 03, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Brian, I agree and would be way more supportive of a light rail line that used right of way isolated from traffic as much as possible. That was the opportunity they missed here. They should have used this project to redesign CP with a transit median. As planned, no one with any knowledge of transit or urban planning would take this seriously.
Gordon August 03, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Why is this project moving forward? Reading the public comments I see very few taxpayers commenting that they support of the project: http://www.piketransit.com/downloads/may2012/PikeTransitPublicReview06-25-12.pdf Is this the sort of county government we deserve? One that allows pet projects to proceed over taxpayer objections?
Sleeper August 03, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Somebody on the board has an in law that builds them, I bet. It is just DUMB. Street cars were eliminated because of the limited travel area and very high maintenance. Another money hole for taxpayers.


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