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With Transitway, Alexandria And Arlington Not On The Same Track

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In Virginia, elected officials from Alexandria and Arlington will gather today for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new transitway that will eventually connect the Pentagon City Metro in Arlington to the Braddock Road Metro in Alexandria. But the neighboring jurisdictions are moving in different directions.

Alexandria is set to open its portion of the transitway next month, although Arlington is just now breaking ground on its side. That means the complete four-mile transitway won't have the bright blue Metroway buses rolling up and down dedicated lanes until next spring. What happens after that, though, is still a matter of debate.

"Right now there is a mismatch in planning and state of direction," says Alexandria Councilman Justin Wilson. "At some point we will reconcile all that."

Arlington plans to upgrade its bus rapid transit system to a streetcar in 2020, although Alexandria says it won't even consider upgrading to a streetcar until 2021. So when passengers arrive at Four Mile Run, the border between Arlington and Alexandria, they'll have to get off the Arlington streetcar and onto the Alexandria bus. Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette says riders will adapt.

"You may have to transfer and get off and go somewhere else," Fisette says.

Elected officials will set aside their differences today as they take out the ceremonial shovels to break ground on the project, which is expected to be completed in 2015.

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