The Arlington County Board voted Tuesday to further reduce costs for the Columbia Pike Transit Stations project by choosing a design concept that includes the option of the stations being partially assembled in a factory, rather than built in place. The Board reaffirmed a “kit-of-parts” design concept, which offers high-quality design and materials for the 23 planned stations.

The larger, more accessible transit stations will serve the planned Premium Transit Network for the Pike with near-level boarding, longer platforms, real-time bus arrival information and off-vehicle fare collection. The premium network, included in Arlington’s recently approved 10-year plan for improved bus service, will offer service that is fast, frequent, reliable and easy to use, with features including simplified bus routes, increased weekday and weekend service, and a new direct “one-seat ride” from Skyline to Pentagon City-Crystal City.

Design and construction of the transit stations will be coordinated with the County’s plans for Columbia Pike street improvements and utility undergrounding. Construction of the stations is expected to begin in 2018 and proceed in phases through 2021.

During the transit station review, the County Manager initiated a staff working group to look at placemaking on Columbia Pike. The transit stations improvements provide an opportunity to incorporate elements that further define the Pike’s identify.

The Board approved the placemaking initiative as a separate project running parallel with the Transit Stations project. County staff will organize the effort and resume a dialogue with the community on placemaking ideas for the station areas and the pathways to transit between the stations.