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Along Columbia Pike, Mixed Reactions To Streetcar

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Arlington and Fairfax counties plan to build a streetcar line down the middle of Columbia Pike, shown here, to supplement bus service along the heavily trafficked corridor. 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/5059547191/
Arlington and Fairfax counties plan to build a streetcar line down the middle of Columbia Pike, shown here, to supplement bus service along the heavily trafficked corridor. 

Arlington and Fairfax counties have made it official; they're going to build a streetcar line along Columbia Pike connecting Bailey's Crossroads to Pentagon City. But along that corridor, opinions are mixed about how useful the new streetcar system will be. 

Taking his lunch break at the Columbia Pike Plaza, Barcroft resident Douglas Poindexter says he doesn't think the $250 million project is a good idea.

"I think it's a waste of time and a waste of money when they could be doing something else with that, you know?" says Poindexter.

Across the border in Bailey's Crossroads, John Rowe disagrees.

"It would be nice to have the option to walk out of my door and then, you know, hop on the car and go down to the Drafthouse," he says, referencing Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse, the low-priced movie theater and restaurant on the Arlington side of the Pike.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved plans for the streetcar line, following a similar vote in Arlington County. Now the two neighboring jurisdictions are applying for about $75 million from the federal government to help fund the project.

Leaders in both counties believe the line will help revitalize Bailey's Crossroads and ease commuter traffic along Columbia Pike. Jose Lemes says he would use the streetcar.

"It would be more convenient to go from here to the Pentagon directly so instead of taking one bus and then another bus it would be better just to take the streetcars," Lemes says. 

But a few miles away, near the Skyline neighborhood in Fairfax County, Pam Siev argues the streetcars are just glorified buses.

"In all honesty, it just seems like it would take the same route as how a bus would," she says. "So there doesn't seem like there's much purpose for it if it's going to the same way as a bus."

Brian Nguyn, a resident of the Columbia Forest neighborhood off the Pike in Arlington says he prefers getting around in his car.

"I just think it's more comfortable to me," Nguyn says. "I already take the bus, and it's kind of already uncomfortable with so many people and it's already pretty busy and it's always late."

Two members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted against the plan, criticizing it as too expensive. 

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