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Arlington board votes in favor of streetcar plan

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The Arlington County board voted in favor of an ambitious, $249-million plan, to bring streetcars to Columbia Pike. 

The board voted 4-0 with one abstention to approve the plan just after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

County planners say the light rail could mix with bus service, carrying a combined 2,500 passengers a day. It would run from the Air Force Memorial to Northern Virginia’s Community College’s Alexandria campus.

They hope a modern, faster look will spur development.

Salon owner Reena Bawa hopes the rail will attract more young professionals to the area.

“I'm sure it's going to be more of a younger crowd,” Bawa says. “People moving in and out, and I think this would be good to happen.”

But the project has several financial hoops to jump through. Planners hope to secure $110 million in federal and state funds. After that, Arlington and Fairfax will share the remaining $140 million cost.

Those numbers, and the notion of sharing the road with another mode of transit, has some folks concerned.

“We'd have to do a lot more waiting. There'd be more diversions to get around,” Alana Hackes, an Arlington resident.

Planners say the 10 or 11 streetcars in service, would run every six minutes. More efficient, they say, than buses.

Andrew Sprowel, who takes a bus almost everyday from Fairfax, says Arlington should go for it.

“Honestly, I think it's a good idea,” he says. “It does mean a little on the tax end, but once again, it kind of pays off in the end.”

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