Friday, January 20, 2006

Streetcar Tracks Coming to H Street!

The big story for today is streetcar tracks are now definitely coming to H Street. The tracks are still in the design process. DDOT will be soliciting construction bids in late spring, or early summer. Construction will likely begin this fall. This is really huge news. There has been plenty of talk of an H Street streetcar line in recent years, but the original plan called for nothing to be done in this regard until well after the completion of the H Street Streetscape Project (part of Great Streets). Thanks in large part to pressure from the local ANCs DDOT is now planning to carryout the two project simultaneously. Not only does this mean that we won't be looking at a torn-up streetscape any longer than possible, it may also mean that we could see actual streetcars sooner than originally thought. The streetcars would connect Union Station to the Minn. Ave Station (running much of the X2's route). The hope is that by connecting Union Station to the Minn. Ave Station, the streetcars can reduce parking needs & traffic congestion on H Street (as using public transportation becomes more attractive). The streetcars will not reduce the current number of parking spaces because each streetcar will share one lane with car automobile traffic (and there will still be one additional lane in each direction devoted entirely to automotive traffic). Under the H Street Streetscape project, $20-23 million dollars will be invested in our H Street (NE) Corridor (approx. 1.25 miles).

The H Street Streetscape Project is one of three pending projects (the other two are the Starburst Plaza & The Benning Road Refurbishment) that will cost around $42 million & begin next year. Get more info on the H Street NE Transportation Study here (especially check out the public realm section). Also check out this link.

If you are interested in serving on a Transportation Committee, contact the rep listed below for your ANC:

William Shelton, ANC 5B, Chair
1355 New York Ave, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Mark Dixon, ANC 6C, Chair
P.O. Box 77876
Washington, DC 20013-7787

Angela Murphy, ANC 7A, Chair
4310 Texas Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20019

Dea Varsovczky, ANC 6A Chair
(I'm not sure about the contact info, but check the website, or your Commissioner)

*Most of this info came from an informational email sent out by ANC6A Commissioner Joe Fengler


Anonymous said...

Great news for H St!

Anonymous said...

How likely is it that we'll see a ground breaking on any of the H Street/Great Streets initiative in 2006?

Klav said...

We got the tracks, but any mention about the streetcars? When is the projected completion date?

inked said...

No mention of a completion date (and I guess this new committment would render any earlier end estimates pretty worthless). Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link to a depiction of the streetcars? Are they going to be trolleys? Where will the stops be?

inked said...

I'll add the link to the main post.

Joseph Fengler said...

The request for proposals will go out this spring. DDOT expects to award the contract in the summer. With some luck, construction will start this fall. So, I would say we have a 70% chance of having the ground breaking this year.

As to the actual streetcars...that remains a work in progress. Had to tackle the challenge in two parts - first the infrastructure (rails) and then the cars.

Alan Kimber said...

This is all fabulous news, and the affected ANCs have all served our interests well.

On the cars, it would be nice if they ended up being a sort of "public art". Perhaps a city-wide competition could be held to select an art design honoring the H Street that once was--the bustling destination shopping district for a large portion of the city. Even if limited to a single color on a white background, it would be nicer than looking at typical drab railcar style cars.

Another interesting way to go would be to arrive at a design that while modern and economical, closely mimics the streetcars that used to run on H Street.

Any other thoughts?


Rob said...

That's fantastic. They also need one that'll make a left on Florida and go to U St/Adams Morgan.

Anonymous said...

Why is this a good thing?

I am not against it but what is the advantage to H Street community if it just travels the same route as the bus.

It sounds like a HUGE investment. How is this a better use of funds then some other project?

Rob said...

Some people don't like the bus. Streetcars seem more timely, permanent and attractive. Streetcars don't get stuck in traffic as easily as cars.
They're also a plus in the "charm" category. It's one of the things that people love about Europe, San Francisco, New Orleans.