Thursday, July 16, 2009

Have you heard this about ownership of Columbia Pike?

Arlington County Board Seeks Control of Columbia Pike
Move meant to facilitate revitalization, street car program

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board, citing the need to advance its redevelopment plans of a key east-west corridor, today adopted a resolution seeking control of a 3.5 mile stretch of Columbia Pike now owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Should the Commonwealth Transportation Board agree to the request, the County would assume full control of the right-of-way from the Arlington-Fairfax County Line to Joyce Street. The County would then be responsible for additional maintenance and operating expenses estimated to cost $180,000 to $450,000. Arlington already maintains all of the traffic signals, streetscape, and bus stops in the corridor and pays for virtually all street improvements.

“Everyone in Arlington has a stake in the successful revitalization of the Columbia Pike corridor,” said County Board Chairman Barbara Favola. “Owning the road and associated right-of-way will make it easier for Arlington to ensure the transformation of Columbia Pike from a suburban highway to an urban, pedestrian focused and transit-oriented main street.”

VDOT ownership slows revitalization
Columbia Pike’s current classification as a primary road under VDOT ownership means that the County must go through an extensive review process with VDOT for even locally funded construction projects. Many of those projects – including a proposed plan to build a streetcar system along the Pike – are not typical of VDOT plans. Often, the County must go through a time-consuming, costly process to obtain design exceptions to implement its plans, leading to project delays. The County expects substantial savings from the avoidance of delays, especially when the streetcar system is built.

Transferring ownership of Columbia Pike to the County would eliminate or reduce VDOT’s involvement in road-related projects along the corridor.

County government, residents and the business community have worked for more than 15 years to create a plan for an urban, pedestrian focused and transit-oriented main street along Columbia Pike. In March 2002, the Board adopted a revitalization plan, the Columbia Pike Initiative, based on extensive community involvement. More than one million square feet of development based on that plan is now being built in the corridor. One major mixed-use development, the Halstead, is completed.

In the past 10 years, the County has spent about $12 million on capital projects along the Pike – all of which required design approval and permits from VDOT. The County has allocated another $9.5 million for planned streetscape and utility undergrounding improvements for the Pike.

A streetcar system has been identified as a solution to address the increasing transit demand along the Pike. The system will ease traffic congestion, improve commutes and encourage land owners and developers to continue to make improvements to and investment in the planned development along Columbia Pike.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I've heard of it. The Washington Business Journal reported it early in the week.

Anonymous said...

Have YOU heard about this?

The Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse has filed for bankruptcy reorganization, seven months after pulling the plug on an expansion.

Arlington Cinema Inc. listed assets of less than $100,000 and debt between $1 million and $10 million, according to a voluntary Chapter 11 filing. The filing says it has fewer than 50 creditors. Its biggest debt, listed as disputed, is $5 million owed to Wheaton Plaza and Westfield LLC, its landlord at its failed second location in Wheaton.

Arlington Cinema opened Montgomery Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse in October 2008. It closed the theater and restaurant in mid-December, citing excessive costs and the time-consuming county permitting process. It also said Westfield would not pay the remaining balance on the project’s construction allowance.

Owner Greg Godbout bought the original Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse on Columbia Pike in 2005.

It has expanded from second-run movies and beer, adding a restaurant as well as live music and entertainment. It opened in 1985 in the former Arlington Theater.

Anonymous said...

So what's it mean when the board takes over?....

Anonymous said...

VDOT is a joke and the sooner Arlington takes over the Pike, the faster the improvements will most likely occur. Virginia has bizarre transportation funding rules -- this is why Fairfax County is thinking of becoming it's own one million plus populated city, so it has control over transportation issues.