In early December, the County admitted that the estimated costs of the Columbia Pike streetcar had been estimated to rise to “between $242-$261 million”. Critics, including this blog, pounced. Supporters defended.
But a careful analysis of the press release and the proposed federal funding reveals a potential bigger problem for the County’s prayer for federal funding. The same press release notes that the County plans “to seek funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts/Small Starts Program”. The slash here is the catch – these are two related programs, with different rules to qualify. The Small Starts program offers a streamlined criteria and approval process, but only for projects under $250 million. With the revised cost estimate, it looks like the project will not be able to qualify for Small Starts.
Moreover, the funding for the New Starts/Small Starts program has been slashed.
Thus, it looks like the problems facing funding for Pike Streetcar are growing. And the Democratic Board Candidates seem to be taking notice, save Melissa Bondi.