Metro

An inside-the-Beltway jurisdiction is working to get its hands on cash designated to ease congestion outside the Beltway. But for the Arlington officials who are proposing it, there is a method to the seeming madness.

Arlington County Board members have authorized their staff to seek nearly $30 million in funds from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), a pool of cash designed to ease congestion for commuters and others living along the route of the Interstate 66 from the Beltway to points west.

The request seeks a portion of the $500 million available to government agencies, part of the agreements between the Virginia Department of Transportation and a private firm to add and operate toll lanes on the portion of the highway outside the Beltway. (Toll lanes also are coming inside the Beltway, but will be operated by the state government.)

Arlington’s request seeks improvements to the East Falls Church Metro station, with the lion’s share – $23 million – to provide design and engineering of a second entrance to the station from Washington Boulevard. The overall project cost is estimated at $96 million.

County officials also are seeking an estimated $6 million for the addition of two bus bays in the current bus loop at the station, along with miscellaneous upgrades to shelters and pedestrian access.

How do the updates jibe with the stated goal of improving the lives of those outside the Beltway? In a letter to NVTA’s executive director, County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said the projects demonstrate “a clear and compelling nexus” to help transit riders from points west (whether by bus or Metro’s Orange and Silver lines) get east.

June 28 was the deadline for localities to formally request funds from the $500 million pool. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority is expected to forward its list of recommended projects to the Commonwealth Transportation Board by October.