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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WTOP: Streetcars Pushed Back to 2013

DSC_0005
Streetcars are running late, but construction is almost complete

No big shock here, but the streetcars are delayed. Basically they are getting pushed back a little more than a year to fall of 2013. I  think most people have expected this news for a while. Just hang in there, at least the construction is mostly gone. Full coverage from WTOP.

39 comments:

ro said...

Not surprising at all, you can see where this is headed.

Gonzo said...

Bummer. I'm hoping the business community and residents can mount some pressure to speed things up, but that might be like arguing against gravity. Anyone have a sense of what the real hangup is? Is it the Amtrack/Hopscotch bridge issue, or is this just glacial speed public works happening?

While I wish we had the speed and determination that China is exhibiting with high-speed rail and other transport innovations, I think I'll still take democracy.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem like anybody with actual power is behind this from what I hear...which is I guess is nothing, that is the problem.

Sorry, but the Mayor needs to get involved to push things along.

charles said...

The only big shock will be if a streetcar ever runs on these tracks.

Campy said...

I get the feeling that everything in that whole area is waiting in a holding pattern until Amtrak comes out with its master plan due sometime next year.

2x capacity of Union Station, highspeed rail, New H ST bridge, greyhound/intercity bus station, 3 million FT2 burham place, louis dryfus mixed-use bldg, streetcars through to downtown. In about 30 years this is all going to be awesome but until then we're going to be consistently let down unless there is a serious turning of political tides in DC (and a boatload of federal $$ coming with it).

Anonymous said...

Yea, leadership is the real issue. Up until last year we had a mayor and agency administrators who were really gung ho about this project and were willing to broker deals, twist arms and scrape together funding to see it through, even with that enthusiam, things still moved slowly.

Now, the streetcar isn't a priority under the current government and won't be for the next 3-1/2 years at a minimum. Gray couldn't care less about the project and a large part of his voting constituency is strongly opposed to it. Combine that with the city's need to trim its budget, as well as DDOT's foot dragging and, well...

Maybe this is opportunity for Tommy Wells to finally man up and exert some influence.

Kanye Northwest said...

Vince Gray doesn't care about white people.

Anonymous said...

Very disappointing. Where is the leadership on this issue? Why do I get the feeling that DDOT knows a lot more about what is actually happening than they are letting on?

I'm feeling misled. At the springtime streetcar meeting, they said late 2012. A couple of months later, and it's another year?

I think they need some damage control on this one. Public reassurance that this project is still happening, and happening sometime in the foreseeable future. I mean, great job on the streetscape, but this is very disappointing news dropped right on the eve of the ribbon cutting. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

what public reassurance do you want? It's not a priority, hasn't that been made clear by his actions? He doesn't have the type of vision or energy to see this through. there will be no streetcar running down H, at least not during Gray's term, period. At least we got a new streetscape out it. Hopefully the private businesses that have set up shop here will be enough to keep commercial development moving in this area without having to look to Gray for help.

Dave B said...

"D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has fast-tracked the project."

...

East_H said...

Oh great. Vince Gray shows up tomorrow, cuts the ribbon on the streetscape, and chortles to himself knowing full well that he couldn't care less if the streetcar ever actually runs.

I would be shocked if he said something about leadership on/pushing for the streetcars to run within a reasonable time frame. I have been a steady believer in this project, but this latest delay is a blow that I will need some time to absorb.

LoLo said...

No, not surprising, but still disappointing. Inked, when do you predict streetcars will actually run on H?

The article has me most worried because of the quote along the lines of "now we're telling people 2012." So that's what they're telling us, but I expect next year they'll be telling us 2013...

lolo said...

Ha, getting way too optimistic. I meant 2013 and 2014, respectively.

inked said...

LoLo,
I generally just say the next two or three years when I talk about streetcars. The big thing with tge streetcar for me is that I think it will make it easier to attract office space, and occupants for that office space. Once we have that it will make retail WAY more feasible. We are really going to need that daytime foot traffic. Know what else we get when we have more small offices? Bigger weekday happy hour and dinner crowds (good for local bars, restaurants, theaters, yoga studios, ect.).

Dave B said...

inked, where do you envision offices? it seems like most of the big planned projects are residential

Anonymous said...

Why can't they just have dedicated bus lanes instead of spending tons of money on obsolete streetcars?

inked said...

Dave B,
I'm not talking large office space like the SEC building. I was thinking more like small companies, and probably not stuff going into existing space. But there is office space above the Star and Shamrock, and we do have small law firms, a property management company, real estate agencies, translators, ect. on H Street already. So you really could put more things into existing spaces. Ideally you could still have retail on the first floor of many spaces.

Anonymous said...

@anon 4:03

Check these out for more info:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-opinions/2010/05/why_streetcars_are_better_than.html
http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/06/03/36-reasons-that-streetcars-are-better-than-buses/

BTW - You would probably seem less trollish if you did not post the same comment on here and GGW...

4th and G said...

Why isn't anyone more upset about this? Every time I look at H Street, I see millions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent putting in tracks, but there has been absolutely no return on investment. Each day that the streetcars are delayed, the tracks become more expensive because they are generating no revenue.

The entire project has poor management written all over it. If the DC Council and Administration worked in the private sector, they all would have been sacked long ago.

You all should be much more angry.

ro said...

I am angry. I'll use all caps next time.

oboe said...

Each day that the streetcars are delayed, the tracks become more expensive because they are generating no revenue.

Yes, and they're depreciating by the hour!!!

oboe said...

One observation: Has anyone else noticed how little clearance there is between the streetcar tracks where they run in the right-hand lane and the vehicles parked in the right-hand parking lane? Pretty much every single delivery truck I've seen parking on the curb lane seems to stick out into the streetcar right-of-way.

Thoughts?

guy said...

great strategy, though. Keep saying the project is on time while tearing up the street. Once the street is fixed, announce that the project is late. The same exact day. I feel like I'm supposed to think this is progress.

guy said...

Oboe, i have definitely thought of this as well... I hope they plan to have one tow truck patrolling H St for each streetcar the first few months of operations... and a street sweeper than can pick up side mirrors. Seriously though, good parking will have to be enforced better than it is i think.

John said...

ANON 4:03 -- I agree with you. Dedicated bus lanes would have been very sensible.

ANON 4:54 -- Why is it "trollish" for someone to ask a legitimate question about dedicated bus lanes in lieu of a streetcar? A bus would have been far more sensible given the short distance and very frequent stops that the trolly like is planned to make.

OBOE -- I agree with you, too. There seems to be very little clearance for delivery trucks, SUVs, bicycles, etc. -- all of which are currently on H Street.

The only reason why I are not upset about this, 4th and G, is that I saw this coming a very long time ago. Without a clear idea of how the cars would be powered or where they would connect to on the west end, it is absolutely no surprise that this spending spree will be put on hold indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

lol. inked, how is this 'not surprising'? i guess you missed them saying 2012 just a couple months ago.

Salamander Jones said...

2013? We may as well just wait around for Doc Brown to come chugging through with his modified futuretrain on them thar tracks. Seriously though, Hill Valley had way better infrastructure. I think we need to reelect Mayor Goldie Wilson ASAP.

LoriG said...

ANON 11:17: It's not surprising, because we could tell the project has a long way to go before it's finished. Also, this is DC, and things getting done in a competent, timely manner is generally the surprise here.

4th and G: we're not bad, we're just disappointed. *sigh*

Tom A. said...

anon 4:03 and others:



http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/06/03/36-reasons-that-streetcars-are-better-than-buses/

Anonymous said...

off with gray's head!!! off with his head!!!!!

inked said...

11:17,
I didn't miss it. I just thought it was too optimistic a deadline.

Gonzo said...

I think the dedicated bus point is a good one and think this should be considered in many areas of the city. I'm not flatout opposed to streetcars - they are electric and could be sourced with renewable energy, but failure of management and leadership on this does give me pause. Streetcars have been successful in some other US cities and nearly all European ones, so one would think it would be achievable here. Regarding the parking - I presume this is simply a reflection of poor planning and negligence on the part of the project leads. If this snafu requires cutting up the streetscaping again... FML.

Gonzo said...

That should have read "dedicated bus lane".

lou said...

@4th and g:
They were doing renovations to the street anyway. They figured it was easier to go ahead and lay the tracks now, rather than rip up the street in the future and go through this process again. Makes sense to me.

And I suggest naysayers go visit the Embarcadero in SF, New Orleans, or Largo Argentina or Trastavere in Rome. Trastevere only became a popular destination after the streetcars (or trams as they're called there).

walker said...

The idea of the such narrow parking spaces is perhaps to prevent big delivery truck double parking and obstructing the street cars. In fact the street car lines would ensure that most lazy people will not be double park on H-street.

East_H said...

@oboe

the car tracks do come close to the parking lane. I've assumed that is why the street parking spots are boxed in on all sides with stripes, to show the area your car needs to be in to avoid getting towed. I have no idea what the delivery trucks will do.

As for the delay, can we get something done in the interim? Like make the right lanes 'bus only' for the next two years? I would be a happy camper if the X2 had a priority lane, or if we could get a dedicated circulator running to bridge the gap.

wylie coyote said...

they'll need an individual traffic infraction for blocking the streetcar line. that way, people who double park *and* block the streetcar will get hit twice (and hopefully towed) to prevent such behavior.

Anonymous said...

Sad news but im still optimistic about the future of the streetcars. Im gonna say 2015. The segment under the hopscotch bridge seems to be the last hurdle, fingers crossed!

BTW- You would seem less trollish if you didnt visit every ''dc'' blog and proofread every comment of every post (most of which are the same) and comment about a comment that someone posted here and GGW. I would suggest that getting a life might be a good idea.

T said...

4th and G

I'm angry that they spent the money in the first place or that the only reason they're giving attention to the area is because of the street cars.

I truly hope that it works out now that our money has gone into it but the area isn't really made for a high volume of people. When I go by the places that are there are normally packed and if anything the area will have far more traffic than it needs when these cars are put in some time in the future.

Apparently, some people aren't so snotty that they think buses are only for the downtrodden and manage to make there way there just like they make there way to Adam's Morgan, which is about the same distance from a train station.

I rode around San Fran on the street car and they're cute and all but I mostly ended up taking the bus because it wasn't as loud and it stopped where I needed to go.