Arlington, VA

As the D.C. City Council wrestles with funding for its planned streetcar system, one of the first visible signs of progress on Arlington’s planned Columbia Pike streetcar project will be appearing soon.

Late next month, a contractor is scheduled to start utility relocation work on Columbia Pike between South Wakefield Street and Four Mile Run Drive. While the $2.3 million project is ostensibly meant to improve aesthetics and infrastructure along the Pike by shifting above-ground utility lines below ground, it will also relocate existing underground utilities in anticipation of the planned streetcar line.

The work is expected to take about 15 months to complete. It’s being funded with money from the county, state and federal governments. The county board approved a contract with Alexandria-based construction firm Martin & Gass on Tuesday.

A second phase of the project is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011. That phase “will focus on improving streets by building wider sidewalks, and adding trees and lighting,” according to a county press release.

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