$500,000 for Study of Rail Along Rt. 7
City of Falls Church officials were pleasantly surprised this week to learn that U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, whose 8th District of Virginia includes the City, included $2.35 million in his submission to the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget.
Eyebrows were raised at City Hall when it was learned that Moran included $500,000 for a feasibility study on bringing a light rail line from the Alexandria Metro rail station up Columbia Pike to Bailey’s Crossroads, and up Route 7, through the City of Falls Church, to Tysons Corner.
The rail concept was included in a visionary “2010 Project” of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission years ago, but Moran appears determined to push it forward more rapidly than most expected. Falls Church had asked Moran for only $100,000, but he wants to spend $500,000 on the idea.
He touted the idea when he came to Falls Church to address the City Council in March.
Falls Church’s Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester, who is the City’s point person in contact with Moran’s office on budget as well as federal stimulus allocations, said that Moran is excited about the idea, in part due to its inter-jurisdictional nature and the obvious need for public transit in the fast-growing region. She said he’s also supporting the regional Council of Governments’ (COG) push for federal stimulus money to study the feasibility of rail along Route 50.
Any initial studies of Route 7, she said, would take into account just how a light rail could fit along the narrow stretch of, in particular, W. Broad Street, which currently has new, large-scale mixed use projects located near the street on either side, leaving no room for new left-turn lanes.
Moran has an extensive list on his web site of all the projects in the 8th District he hopes to move forward with the Fiscal Year 2010 budget that lawmakers are optimistic might actually get buttoned up on schedule by Oct. 1, Mester noted. The complete list is at http://moran.house.gov/appropriations_requests.shtml.
Other big chunks Moran hopes to deliver to Falls Church are: $800,000 for a variety of traffic calming and pedestrian-friendly measures throughout the City, including bicycle lanes and bus shelters; $500,000 on top of the $500,000 already in the current budget for daylighting sump pumps and other storm water improvements; and, $500,000 on top of the $190,000 in the current budget for a geothermal HVAC heating and cooling system for the Falls Church Housing Corporation’s City Center South Apartments affordable housing project.
Moran did not ask for any of the $3 million the City sought for a “park master plan” to include a master plan implementation and watershed improvement. He also did not include $500,000 sought for new sidewalk construction, but did include the $50,000 requested for upgrades to the City’s e-communications network and broadband capabilities.
Funding that Moran is seeking for the Arlington Transit System (ART), the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation System (WMATA) and Four Mile Run will have regional impacts that will also impact Falls Church.