Monday, March 09, 2015

Washington DC's new streetcar lines may never open at all

News sources in Washington DC report that the new streetcar line on H Street NE may never run at all.  That’s the gist of a WJLA7 news story here.

NBCWashington reports that the entire project is in jeopardy, with only a small portion (H Street) likely to open.

The H Street project is important since the area is targeted for real estate development as NorthEast DC attacks its former blight.  It would provide additional service between areas served by Orange and Blue lines.  There would seem to be less reason to extend it to Georgetown, although Georgetown, for mysterious reasons, never got a Metro stop (the closest is Foggy Bottom).

Street cars were common in Washington until the 1950s, when tracks were pulled up. My own mother used them to commute to work in the 1930s after moving to Washington DC and living in the Y. 

Michael Laris reports on the issue for The Washington Post, here.   It seems that facts are lacking on resolution of safety incidents in testing.
Washington DC could consider constructed dedicated bus lanes, to supplement service (especially late at night, when Metro is down, or to handle track work). Other cities have them, like Cleveland (Euclid Ave. which gets it right).  But in the older DC areas getting right of way is very expensive.  Plans for light rail on Columbia Pike in Arlington were scraped, but the area badly needs an efficient bus line, but right of way would be difficult to purchase in this older neighborhood. 

A local LGBT paper, the Washington Blade, supports (in an op-ed by Mark Lee) ending the trolley completely, here. The new DC Eagle, on Benning Road, is near the end of the Trolley lone, but is best served from the Minnesota Ave Metro (Orange Line), which itself needs a lot of work (GLBT blog, Feb. 28). 
Second picture is from H Street fair in September 2012. 

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