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Will $75 Million 'Hole' 'Swallow' Columbia Pike Streetcar?

On Friday, we growled about the decision of the Federal Transit Administration to not include Arlington County's Columbia Pike streetcar in its Fiscal Year 2014 "Small Starts" funding plans. It would have provided Arlington County with $75 million taken from the pockets of all American taxpayers.

In an online article today, the Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey asks whether that $75 million "hole" "be enough to swallow streetcar proposal?"Here's the first two paragraphs of the lede from his article:

"County leaders say the decision by the federal government not to provide funding for the Columbia Pike streetcar project won’t derail their efforts to construct the line. But critics seized upon the decision to intensify calls for more scrutiny of the quarter-billion-dollar transit proposal.

“This is just the latest warning signal to Arlington that it is time to hit the pause button on the streetcar,” said Peter Rousselot, a leader of Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit, which formed in an effort to slow down the project and consider alternatives."

According to McCaffrey, " The $75 million in federal funds would have helped offset some of the as-yet-undetermined total cost of the streetcar project. The best estimate for the five-mile line is in the neighborhood of $250 million.

"(A)s-yet-undertermined? "(B)est estimate?" "(I)n the neighborhood of?" We really do have innumerates at Courthouse Plaza.

UPDATE (4/15/13). In today's Washington Examiner, Taylor Holland suggests that "Northern Virginia officials look elsewhere for streetcar funding." His lede:

"Northern Virginia lawmakers may try to tap into the state's new pot of transportation money to build a streetcar line along Columbia Pike after learning Friday that the federal government wouldn't fund the controversial plan.

"Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's historic transportation package calls for a 0.7 percent sales tax increase in Northern Virginia to pay for long-stalled transportation projects, particularly roads, but Arlington County officials say they're confident they can find the rest of the money they need and avoid scrapping the $249 million streetcars."


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