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Thursday, August 25, 2011

HC: Streetcar Conundrum

End of the rails by Kecko
End of the rails, a photo by Kecko on Flickr.

Housing Complex's Lydia DePillis delves more deeply into the question of the streetcar's western endpoint.

18 comments:

Tom A. said...

No one talk about the eastern terminus. Is it just going to stop where the tracks stop- which is sort of in a no man's land?

or will tracks be built to Minnesota Ave in the next year?

East_H said...

Another strong piece by DePillis.

DDOT needs to figure out the east and west endpoints, and they need to do it quickly. It's obvious that there aren't any good choices on the west end, and I'm afraid without a strong tie in with metro this initial system is going to fail, and fail spectacularly.

I still think the Amtrak tie in is the way to go. DC folded like a wet watermelon when they showed resistance. If we are serious about streetcars for DC, we should go out and get that space, and make that tie-in work. There's always a way, if you aren't weak willed and truly have strong political support.

Anonymous said...

It's probably too late, but if it'll make you feel better, do what I just did and visit www.amtrak.com/contactus.html
to let Amtrak know that you are disappointed about their unwillingness to cooperate with the District on streetcars. For the line to really work, there must be a convenient link to Amtrak's services at Union Station and to Metro's Red Line. Amtrak has the space to allow such a link under its tracks, but has refused to so for less than convincing reasons. Amtrak is an important citizen of the District; it needs to act like it.

Anonymous said...

We should tie this somehow to the development of the air rights over the union station rail yard.

Also, can someone post instructions (illustrated preferably) on how to fold a wet watermelon?

Campy said...

This initial phase of the project has to be successful and connection to metro is paramount.

Here's what I would do:

Take a right at 3rd & H up to M ST NE, connect directly to NY Ave Metro. Continue on M Street westbound and terminate at Convention Center on the underpass.

That takes the streetcar to the door steps of both Red and Green/Yellow lines and is supplementary to the purpose served by the X2/X9 bus lines for folks coming from EoTR/Benning/H ST into the city and out.

It would also help alleviate the congestion at Gallery Place (one of the more crazy metros) as well as help integrate NOMA (and its growing number of employees and residents) to the city further. Hey NOMA paid for their metro, maybe they want to pitch in a little for streetcar! DDOT would need to reconfigure M Street NW a little but that seems like small potatoes compared to all the Union Station engineering ideas.

East_H said...

^^^interesting idea, Campy. Anybody know if DDOT has considered this?

Anonymous said...

It's funny that people are criticizing Amtrak over its interest in reserving the space where they already have right-of-way for a high speed passenger rail line along the Northeast Corridor of the U.S. I don't know what's more likely - High Speed Rail in the U.S. or streetcars in DC, but I know that I would MUCH rather see High Speed Rail, especially if along the East Coast.

The streetcar project in DC is a bogus, ill-conceived pork-barrel project.

Campy said...

@east_h I dunno if this route has come up before or not, I would hope so!

It doesn't jive with the 37-mile map but really that master plan is worthless if this line isn't a grand success, right? DDOT is now in a situation where they have to act swiftly on their feet (public momentum/patience for this project is in a dive) and this type of streamlined solution directly to major transit hubs could actually work (IMO).

Though I'm sure someone's going to harp up about the overhead wires approaching downtown..

Jason said...

@Tom A., in the short-term, DDOT is planning to build a temporary turnaround on Benning Road NE near the intersection with Oklahoma Avenue (and without access to Union Station will also plan to build a streetcar maintenance and storage facility off of Benning Road). In the longer term, the plan is to extend the line across the Anacostia River and connect to the Benning Road Metrorail Station. DDOT previously applied for federal funding for such an extension but was unsuccessful.

Dave B said...

Re: Convention Center Idea

Just looking at Google Maps, M St is one way at points. That might complicate things. Is it a busy road? If it isnt as busy as H St, it could make up for the fact that it is three blocks out of the way.

Another idea:

Is it that crazy to run the street car up the little one way F St incline by Ebeneezers then drop off in front of Union Station with the buses. It is a pretty wide one-way street and doesn't get much traffic. It could probably be regulated with a traffic light and the car might be able to operate on battery for a short time so overhead wires won't have to be installed. You might even be able to single track it if the street cars arent running very frequently

Anonymous said...

I don't think that running up 3rd St. is viable. Between Senate Square and the new Giant/apartment development, the road is already fairly narrow, and no way to widen it with those two large structures there.

Anonymous said...

Building on Campy's post...

What about westbound cars turn north on 3rd (I personally don't think it's too narrow if the street car traffic is only one way on that street) than turn West on M for one block (this intersection tends to be pretty calm) before turning back S on 2nd to run parallel with the train tracks. Then continue past H down to F by Ebeneezer's than turn east for block east before turning back north on 3rd to rejoin H going east bound.

Pros:
1)This route could include stops @

-K & 3rd NE
-NY Ave metro by Uline
-F & 2nd to serve Union Station
-3rd & H to pick up the eastbound leg.
2)No need to construct a western terminus/turnabout
3)No known "viewsheds"
4) incorporating another red line stop @ NY Ave for those heading toward SS could ease some of the crowding on the US platform.
5)route brings in other designated development areas aside from H
6) Uline or one of the other underutilized facilities around there could provide a home for the power station/Maintenance
7) it is all single track, so less crowding of other traffic by street cars

Cons:
1) Substantially more track
2)3rd & F NE are mostly residential so you'd have to win over the neighbors

KM

Anonymous said...

Run it up the bridge and then transfer to a parking garage courtesy shuttle.

Anonymous said...

"The streetcar project in DC is a bogus, ill-conceived pork-barrel project."


So dumb...

Gonzo said...

Yea, I don't really see how purchasing loads of tram cars from the Czech Republic counts as pork. Seems like an odd conclusion.

Dave B said...

The Czech streetcar company is a subsidiary of Che Brown's Partners in Learning company and is run by a third Brown brother, Jaroslav Brown, and Harry Thomas' cousin, Petr Tomas.

Anonymous said...

Then again, the streetcar purchase isn't the only expense in the project, and the tracks can't easily be moved to benefit other wards in the city.... porker.

boats said...

I don't understand why DDOT doesn't eminent domain the space and just do it.