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Arlington to Vote on Streetcar Agreement with Alexandria

After reports of disagreements over the planning for a Route 1 corridor streetcar, Arlington and Alexandria are poised to sign an agreement that would move the project forward.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote Saturday on the agreement, which would implement the streetcar as a two-phase project. County staff has recommended it be approved.

Under the proposed agreement, Arlington would proceed with the construction of a streetcar line in Crystal City while Alexandria focuses on building a new Potomac Yard Metro station. Arlington would complete an Environmental Assessment for the streetcar project in late 2013, while Alexandria would begin an Alternatives Analysis and environmental studies for its potential extension of the streetcar line in early 2014, after the final location of the Potomac Yard station has been decided.

County staff anticipate the Crystal City streetcar would be built and under operation by 2019. An Alexandria extension could be built as soon as two years later.

While Alexandria’s streetcar extension will depend largely on federal funding, Arlington would fund the streetcar using state funds and the Crystal City tax increment financing area (TIF) that was approved by the County Board in 2010. Unlike Alexandria, Arlington will not perform an Alternatives Analysis, which is required in order to seek federal funding.

The project restructuring will likely increase Arlington’s costs for the environmental work, but it should put to rest any disagreements over how the jurisdictions will split the expense of the various studies involved.

“It ends up being a win-win situation for both of us, and I think everybody is quite pleased,” said Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius. She added that the fact that Arlington is moving forward with the project first should boost Alexandria’s chances of receiving federal funding.

“We think this will strengthen Alexandria’s application,” Curtius said.

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