Anthony Williams, the mayoral predecessor to Fenty, originally laid plans to build two pilot streetcar lines in H Street NE and Anacostia. Three streetcars had been purchased but have sat idle in the Czech Republic as the projects stalled. Klein wants to not only jumpstart those lines but build a network. How will it be different this time?
Although the Williams administration planned to build a streetcar network without federal dollars, as Portland, Ore. did with its model system, Klein said meetings with Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation secretary, have convinced him that the federal government will be a partner.
LaHood “is extremely supportive. I think he’s pretty excited about the possibility of it running right in front of the Department of Transportation headquarters,” which is on M Street SE, Klein said. He said the city plans to seek funding through the federal New Starts program, in which the Federal Transit Administration partially finances locally planned and operated transit. Klein said the program was being transformed under LaHood into an attractive option.
As we anticipated from our April discussion on a K Street streetcar, Klein would like to build a streetcar network that would include a route through downtown. The Downtown BID and other stakeholders have been pushing for the K Street line.
UPDATE [8/7/2009 12:10PM]: Greater Greater Washington recapped the DDOT public forum on streetcars that was held last night at the Atlas Theatre.
DDOT’s facebook page has a photo album of the ongoing track installation on Benning Road NE. If K Street will be part of the streetcar network our track installation should ideally occur the same time as the streetscape improvements so that residents and business only impacted by construction only once.