The Baileys Crossroads area might someday be home to a streetcar line.
On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors joined Arlington County in endorsing the five-mile streetcar route from Pentagon City to Skyline. The streetcar line would have three stops in Baileys Crossroads: Goodwin House, Jefferson Street and Skyline.
Endorsing the “locally preferred alternative” is a step needed to apply for federal funding.
The streetcar line is expected to cost $246 million, with Fairfax and Arlington counties covering more than half of the cost — $131.7 million. The two counties have not yet negotiated the split of the local share; it will be determined as part of the application for $73.8 million in federal funds.
Studies that the two counties conducted to evaluate the streetcar line indicate the investment would pay off in terms of redevelopment and increased property values in the Baileys Crossroads area, one of the county’s revitalization corridors.
According to county transportation staff, the Columbia Pike corridor is primed for a successful streetcar line because it already has high bus ridership. About 16,000 riders use transit today, and that demand is forecast to grow to 30,000 riders by 2030.
“There is a lot of buy-in; a lot of potential,” said Supervisor Penny Gross (D-Mason), who represents the Baileys Crossroads area.
Because the streetcar line will come in the vicinity of Va. 7, there will be options in the future to extend the system to other areas, Gross said.
“It has the potential for being a new Northern Virginia network, and this is where it starts,” she said.
However, Supervisors Michael Frey (R-Sully) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said they are not convinced the expense of a streetcar line is worth the benefits. Herrity suggested the streetcar, which will have frequent stops, might be less attractive to riders trying to reach the Pentagon than the express buses that are available today.
“I want to make sure that it’s a time-advantaged commute,” he said.
Fairfax County Director of Transportation Tom Besiadny said the addition of the streetcar won’t necessarily mean the end of popular bus routes.
The streetcar will give commuters another choice, said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), chairman of the board’s Transportation Committtee.
“We have an opportunity here to try and get ahead of the ball and recognize that this is going to be a growth area,” he said.