DDOT to Unveil Proposed Streetcar System Plan

DDOT spokesperson John Lisle sent out an announcement yesterday that the agency will unveil it’s proposed streetcar system plan a series of public meetings scheduled in every ward. The meetings kick off next Thursday October 22nd with the Ward 6 meeting (our ward) at J.O. Wilson Elementary (660 K Street NE) from 7 pm – 8:30 pm.

Portland Streetcar image from flickr user KGradinger

During the tenure of Mayor Anthony Williams two disconnected streetcar alignments, one on H Street NE, and the other in Anacostia were planned and the trams were ordered from the Czech Republic based Inekon. The order was fulfilled by Inekon years ago but the trams remain in the Czech Republic as progress on the project stalled. Finally in 2009 with the appointment of new DDOT director Gabe Klein tracks have begun to be installed on Benning Road NE and in Anacostia along Firth Sterling.

In early August, at a public forum held in the Atlas Theatre on H Street NE, Klein pledged to place streetcars back on the front burner stating the sluggish progress on the project was unacceptable. These public meetings in each ward will give District residents an opportunity to hear about the current progress and view updated plans for future streetcar lines across the District.

What does this mean for the Mount Vernon Triangle? One goal DDOT has is to connect the H Street NE/Benning Road streetcar line to the K Street Transitway which will run from Mount Vernon Square to Georgetown. I pondered two potential alignments for that connection back in April. I have a reputable source that says we should expect when the system is unveiled the MVT segment will use New Jersey Ave and K Street then connect to the H Street NE segment behind Union Station on the Hopscotch Bridge.

That NJ/K alignment makes a solid sense as both streets have wide right of ways and streetscape money already earmarked in the coming years. I don’t have any information on timing or station locations but perhaps some of the details we crave will be shared at these public meetings.

UPDATED [10/15/2009 11:10AM]: Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy wells tells the Washington Business Journal the H Street NE/Benning streetcar line is his primary project.

For a primer on streetcars, visit my past profile of Seattle’s Streetcar

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  1. 1

    KimFromTheK says

    If this map is accurate it seems that this would be a very similar route to (or at least cover the same areas as) the Circulator. Would hours extend past the 9pm timeframe that the Circulator runs to allow people who go out on H NE in the later hours to have alternate means of transportation home? Would the Circulator potentially change its route as a result of this?

  2. 2

    FourthandEye says

    @Kim – My thought is that the H Street Shuttle that travels between Gallery Place Metro and the Minnesota Avenue Metro will disappear after the street car arrives. That shuttle currently runs after 5pm until the closing of the bars. The streetcar would likely keep the same hours (or atleast mirror metro hours).

    As for the Circulator, I doubt that goes away until the streetcar goes all the way to Georgetown. I don't think they want to eliminate the one seat trip between Georgetown and Union station. But this is all conjecture on my part.

    Keep in mind this will take until a few years to fully materialize.

  3. 3

    Tom Veil says

    I would prefer to see the streetcar get to the K Street Transitway by taking H Street to the old Convention Center parking lot, and then following the 10th St ROW to K St. Doing that would bring the streetcar right past the Yellow/Green at 7th & H.

    That said, the New Jersey alignment is quite fine, so long as they eventually do find a path around Mt. Vernon Square and down K to the K Street Transitway. It doesn't have to happen in a day or in a year, but eventually, we have to have a network, not just a couple isolated streetcars.