Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Approves Streetcar to Baileys Crossroads as Preferred Option

July 31, 2012

News Highlights

  • The 4.9-mile Columbia Pike Streetcar project is key to redeveloping Baileys Crossroads into a walkable, mixed use, urban center.
  • The streetcar will meet the future demand for transit along the corridor, which has the highest bus ridership in Northern Virginia.
  • It will have three stops in Fairfax County, all in the Baileys Crossroads area.

Today, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a streetcar line as the locally preferred option for transit along the Columbia Pike corridor.

A joint project with Arlington County, the 4.9-mile Columbia Pike Streetcar will run from Pentagon City to Skyline in Fairfax County. The county’s three stations will be located in the Baileys area: Goodwin House, Jefferson Street and Skyline.

“The streetcar will relieve congestion and present economic development opportunities for the Skyline area and serve a population with the demonstrated support and need for transit,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “Light rail has the potential to become an important part of the transportation network as we look to add new options and expand service in Fairfax County.”

This transit project is a key component to revitalizing the Baileys business district. The county’s plans to transform this area into a mixed use, urban center depend on focusing growth near the streetcar stops, as well as meeting the growing need for public transit along Columbia Pike.

At 16,000 riders per day, this corridor already has the highest bus ridership in Northern Virginia, and demand is expected to nearly double by 2030. The streetcar will accommodate more riders without adding extra buses to the road.

In a joint study, Fairfax and Arlington looked at possible transportation and land use benefits for the streetcar, and the two counties also surveyed developers, finding:

  • 60 percent said that higher quality transit, like a streetcar, was very important or important in choosing to develop along the corridor
  • 64 percent said that a streetcar would cause them to add more residential units to their developments (32 percent indicated a 25 percent or greater increase in units while another 32 percent reported a 4 to 14 percent increase)
  • 70 percent said that a streetcar would increase retail sales volume per square foot
  • 40 percent reported that they were more likely to develop along the corridor as opposed to other places in Fairfax or Arlington without rail service.

The study also projects a 4 to 10 percent increase in property values within a quarter mile of the streetcar line. This amounts to a $126 to $315 million spike in values along the study corridor, which spans both counties.

Furthermore, the streetcar could result in 10 percent net new development along the corridor. Over 30 years, this added development would generate $82 million in new revenue from sales taxes, businesses licenses and other fees. This increased development would produce $156 million in property tax revenues over the same period.

As Fairfax continues to grow, county officials want to concentrate growth in urban centers served by public transit. This transit-oriented development strategy fights sprawl and cuts down the number of cars on the road.

Under the county’s redevelopment plan, Baileys could grow to almost 9,000 housing units and up to 8.9 million square feet of office, retail and other non-residential space. Regional forecasts project a 21 percent growth in population and 23 percent increase in jobs along the Columbia Pike corridor.

Based on estimates, the cost to build the streetcar line is $246 million. Fairfax and Arlington will seek more than $107 million in federal and state funds to finance the project. Both counties will share the remaining costs, with Arlington to pay most of the cost since most of the streetcar line runs through that jurisdiction. The proportional share between the two counties will be negotiated at a later date.

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