Columbia Pike Streetcar – Transit that Serves the Community’s Vision
Years of community planning have produced a vision for Columbia Pike, and streetcar is central to that vision. Hundreds of residents, business owners, organizations and others who care about the Pike together have crafted a vision that seeks to:
- Revitalize the Pike while preserving its character, diversity and affordability
- Manage growth that we know is coming
- Build a move vibrant, sustainable community, and
- Create a walkable, bikeable Main Street served by high-quality transit
Streetcars encourage smart development
A modern streetcar will help us build a more vibrant and economically healthy Pike by attracting the sort of high-quality, mixed-use and residential development the community wants. Fixed-rail streetcars provide employers and developers with the sort of certainty that changeable bus routes cannot. They provide transit capacity that buses cannot.
Attractive, comfortable, affordable transit
Because modern streetcars are more accessible and offer a smoother ride than buses do, they encourage people to use their cars less and public transit more. That means less traffic on one of the most heavily traveled roads in Northern Virginia, less air pollution and healthier living for all.
The Community’s goals:
- Preserve the Pike’s affordable housing and several of its original garden apartments to retain its character
- Add broad, tree-shaded sidewalks
- Add ground-floor retail and professional offices
- Add a mix of housing types
- Add attractive, vibrant public spaces and public art
- Enhance transit service with convenient connections
County investing in the Pike
County government is prepared to invest heavily in achieving these goals. The County Board adopted a 30-year plan to preserve the 6,200 existing market-rate affordable units and is creating new incentives and tools to keep those units available for low- and moderate-income households for the long-term.
In a move that will offer more affordable living choices in Arlington, the Board also has voted to build the Columbia Pike streetcar and has invested in major infrastructure upgrades to improve the Pike’s bus service and enhance its streetscape. This will make it easier for some people can choose to reduce or eliminate their personal vehicles, which could dramatically reduce their household expenses.
The County also has nearly completed the Arlington Mill Community Center on the west end of the Pike – a place where the entire community will enjoy a broad array of classes, programs and recreational opportunities.
The result that everyone is working toward is managing and incentivizing growth on the Pike while retaining its affordability; its cultural, economic and ethnic diversity; its history, its heritage and its strong sense of community. The County is committed to improving the quality of life for all who live and work along the Pike.
Smart Growth – the key to Arlington’s success
This is the essence of Smart Growth – the people-centric approach to planning that Arlington has so successfully practiced for decades in the Metro corridors and that it has proven – in Shirlington and Westover – can be expanded beyond the Metro corridors.
Smart Growth assumes that the right kind of growth is the sustainable kind – the sort of growth that encourages transit use, incentivizes green building practices and concentrates development around high-quality transit options. It is the sort of growth that has made the Metro corridors some of the most desirable places to live, work and play in the nation, the sort of growth that the community wants along Columbia Pike.
Growth is coming to Columbia Pike. Because the community does not want the sort of densities on the Pike that are the hallmarks of the Rosslyn-Ballston and Crystal City-Pentagon City corridors, heavy rail would be inappropriate for the Pike – there would not be enough increased density to pay for it. Streetcar – light rail – is the less expensive option that will allow the Pike to preserve its essence – its diversity and affordability – while increasing its vibrancy and economic competitiveness and meeting the expected commuting needs of the future population.