Pike Transit Initiative – Program Objectives for 2006-2007

Overall goals of the current work are to advance the Pike Transit Project to the environmental documentation stage and ensure eligibility for potential federal and state grants. To accomplish this, the project team will conduct several activities related to the technical analysis and conceptual engineering design of the proposed transit investment.

Station Stops
Coordinate with design and construction activities related to the ongoing Columbia Pike Super Stops program. Wherever possible, future streetcar stations will be located and designed to take advantage of the planned Super Stops.
Identify issues and opportunities with respect to a transit center and parking structure near the proposed Jefferson Street Station in Bailey’s Crossroads.
Right-of-Way Requirements
Evaluate the right-of-way requirements and reservations associated with implementing the Modified Streetcar alternative.
Utility Assessment
Investigate existing utility locations and review recent local experience to refine estimates for potential relocations associated with the transit project.
Coordinate transit improvement requirements with ongoing utility undergrounding and other county capital programs.
Vehicle Storage and Maintenance Facility
Research how other transit properties are incorporating vehicle and maintenance facilities in urban environments.
Identify workable sites for storage and maintenance of the proposed vehicle fleet along the Columbia Pike corridor.
Cost Estimate
Revise the order of magnitude capital cost estimate based on the work conducted in previous activities.
Financial Strategy
Assess the potential funding scenarios for the preferred alternative recommended in the Alternatives Analysis.
Identify a range of potential federal and state grants; local government funding sources including value capture strategies; and private financing and project development scenarios.
Organizational Strategy
Evaluate the benefits of alternative organizational structures for implementing the transit project.
Implementation Strategy
Based on the technical work developed in the previous activities, develop an implementation strategy for the streetcar investment recognizing the capital programs planned and being implemented in the Columbia Pike corridor. The strategy will focus on the key technical and policy issues and include a timeline for action and project implementation.
Coordination
Coordinate with participating jurisdictions and project sponsor on an ongoing basis.
Present findings at civic association meetings and supply project updates for use by Arlington and Fairfax County revitalization offices.
Pike Transit Initiative Background
In 2002, the Arlington County Board approved the Columbia Pike Initiative – A Revitalization Plan. Part visioning exercise and part implementation plan, the Board established how the future of transportation and development would look along Columbia Pike, and what steps would be taken to achieve the vision. Three major transit goals resulted from the Columbia Pike Initiative.

Improve bus stops along Columbia Pike and provide better information for bus riders;
Implement improvements to the bus services in the Columbia Pike corridor;
Plan for long-term higher-capacity transit options.
The first two goals are underway through the PikeRide bus service. The Pike Transit Initiative is focusing on the final goal, to evaluate and plan for long term higher-capacity transit options along Columbia Pike.

In addition, recognizing the growing need for alternatives to the automobile, Fairfax County’s Comprehensive Plan supports measures to increase the use of public transit. Transit connections linking neighborhoods, employment centers, and the regional Metrorail system are cited as specific policy goals. The Pike Transit Initiative will help to plan for this higher capacity system along the section of Columbia Pike within Fairfax County.

In 2003, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), in conjunction with Arlington County and Fairfax County, initiated the Pike Transit Initiative (officially the Columbia Pike Transit Alternatives Analysis). The study began with a wide range of alternatives, which were narrowed down to a small set of alternatives through extensive public input and technical analysis. This small set of alternatives included a “No Action (or Baseline) Alternative,” and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Streetcar, and Modified Streetcar Alternatives.

The preferred transit investment for the corridor, the Modified Streetcar Alternative, will combine elements of the other alternatives – notably a streetcar project with continued extensive bus service – and will improve transit service efficiency and make a significant investment in the community.

One of the goals in defining this alternative was to develop a functional project that could be constructed as inexpensively as possible, yet would achieve community goals. Basic features of this alternative are as follows:

The streetcar line would extend five miles between Skyline and Pentagon City.
Streetcar service would operate at constant six-minute headways throughout the day.
Streetcar service would be augmented with WMATA buses, carry peak passenger demand, and supply service for trips such as those from Annandale that are more efficiently accommodated via bus service.
The Modified Streetcar Alternative was endorsed for further study by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Arlington County Board in the spring of 2006. These endorsements allowed the project to advance into the current phase of development, which includes environmental documentation, development of a financial strategy, and conceptual system design.