The Washington Post

New Virginia taxes may spur transit projects

The money raised from Virginia’s new state transportation taxes and fees has not started to flow into Northern Virginia, but Arlington County officials are preparing plans for how to spend it.

Their plans are big: A new west entrance to the Ballston Metrorail station could cost $56 million alone, county documents say, and realigning the winding east end of Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard may consume $10 million. Realigning the west end of the Pike could cost $12 million.

But the money is big, too. The 2014 fiscal year, which started July 1, is expected to bring about $300 million to the region. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority will control about 70 percent of it for regional projects. The remaining 30 percent goes to each local government — in Arlington, that’s $11.4 million.

Everything is held up for now until the Virginia Supreme Court decides whether the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is properly choosing to fund projects that ease congestion. Arlington County manager Barbara Donnellan, in a memo to the board, advised waiting to spend any new money until the state supreme court rules, probably in early 2014.

The NVTA in late July agreed to fund four Arlington projects:

●Realignment of the west end of Columbia Pike, for $12 million.

● Boundary Channel Drive interchange, for $4.3 million.

●Expansion of the local ART buses due to the Silver/Blue line construction, $1 million.

●Crystal City multi-modal transportation center, $1.5 million

The Arlington County Board was set Tuesday to approve additional projects from its $11.4 million share. They include:

●Clarendon Circle pedestrian safety improvements, $2 million.

●Crystal City street improvements, $2 million.

●Arlington Transit maintenance facility, $2.25 million.

● Streetcar projects on Columbia Pike and in Crystal City. $2.5 million.

●Transportation cameras, signals and controllers. $1 million.

●Ballston Metrorail station west entrance. $500,000.

The Arlington County Board also planned to endorse its priorities for fiscal years 2015-2017, in advance of the NVTA’s call. Donnellan said they should include:

●Improvements in the intelligent transportation system along Glebe Road, including transit signal interruptions for emergency vehicles and turn-lane improvements. $2 million.

●Realignment of the east end of Columbia Pike and Washington Boulevard. $10 million.

●New Ballston Metrorail west entrance. $56 million.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.

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