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Arlington to control Columbia Pike

The Commonwealth Transportation Board, a 17-member board that handles administrative actions for Virginia's roads, decided Wednesday to let Arlington County take full control over Columbia Pike.

"By owning the road, Arlington will be able to speed up the pike's transformation from suburban highway to main street," said Jay Fisette, county board chairman, in a statement. "This is a big step forward in our efforts to make the pike more accessible, pedestrian and transit-friendly."

Since 2002, county officials have been working to redevelop the Columbia Pike corridor, including plans for a street car line. Once the pike transfer is completed, the county will no longer have to go through long state approval and permitting processes to complete projects, officials said.

The county will take over the stretch from the county line with Fairfax to Joyce Street and about $660,000 worth of operations and maintenance from the Virginia Department of Transportation. The state will still have control over the Glebe Road and Washington Boulevard intersections.

The Arlington County Board will discuss a memorandum of understanding with state officials at its Sept. 25 meeting. The transfer could take effect as early as October, county officials said.

-- Christy Goodman

By Christy Goodman  | September 17, 2010; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Driving, Northern Virginia  
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This is a huge mistake. I have passed through Columbia Pike and have shopped and gone to restaurants there for about 25 years. The newest buildings on Columbia Pike (apartments and condos) are being built with only about eight feet of set back from the road. The older complexes have much more setback and have very nice gardens and lawns in front of them that compensate, in a sense, for the "oldness" and "outdatedness" of many of those same buildings. Arlington should stick with this latter model or else they are going to find that they have merely turned Columbia Pike into another Crystal City. Another big problem is that Columbia Pike is a major feeder road for commuters into Crystal City and DC from Fairfax County and beyond. Anything that adds to the density of development along CP will magnify the likely increases in traffic congestion due to denser development. Since there is no subway line along CP and is likely to never be one, busses will not provide much of a relief. And what is Arlington County going to do if all of this redevelopment does not drive out the Latino gangs and illegal aliens who live along CP? If they don't clear out, there will be a limit on the inflow of new residents willing to live there, particularly west of Glebe.

Posted by: riderX | September 17, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

This is a great deal for the state--they will no longer have to pay to maintain Columbia Pike. Now it will cost Arlington an estimated $600,000 per year for that honor--for what? For the opportunity to install a street car on the Pike. Think traffic is bad now, wait until street cars arrive and jam the roadway!

Posted by: new-ideas | September 17, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This strikes me as slightly peculiar news. Arlington and Henrico counties have long been the only two counties in the state with responsibility for their own roads (except Interstate Highways). Why was Columbia Pike an exception, and are there any other roads in Arlington (again, aside from I-395 and I-66) that are VDOT's responsibility?

FWIW, I could see Columbia Pike's traffic increasing when the BRAC-133 building at Mark Center opens next year, especially if the traffic on Shirley Highway increases substantially as a result. People would quite naturally divert to parallel roads, including Columbia Pike and Quaker Lane (depending on ultimate destination, obviously).

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 17, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

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