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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Reminder: Streetcar Meeting Tonight

What: The Mayor and various transportation officials will provide a progress update on the streetcars, and also gather audience input.
Where: The Atlas (1333 H Street)
When: 7-8:30pm tonight

50 comments:

Dave B said...

Progress? Has anybody seen any construction?

Is this going to be like Extreme Home Makeover: Connect a Street Car to Union Station Edition?

MOVE! THAT! BRIDGE! (and tunnel! and parking garage! and...)

Anonymous said...

@Dave B

There's a lot more to "progress" than just installing tracks, power, etc. This meeting will discuss a lot of the other planning and contract progress.

Derek said...

I won't be able to attend. Can someone please post notes of what was said and discussed? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

NO STREETCAR! NO PEACE! NO STREETCAR!! NO PEACE!!

Dave B said...

Is this meeting BYOB?

Trinidaddy said...

I plan on being sufficiently drunk for this.

Anonymous said...

i'm gonna bang heroin

Anonymous said...

Tommy Wells, in one of the first times I ever agreed with one of his positions, says the streetcar going down 3rd Street NE is a non-starter.

https://twitter.com/#!/TommyWells/status/144109907866693632

Anonymous said...

This meeting filled up quickly and only one Gray staffer was there to turn people away. Never gave his name or business card just shut people out. Then the mayor arrives and ignores the voters being turned away. Poor planning and poor judgement...just par for the course with this one termer.

Apple Pie said...

Ink can we get an update asap!

inked said...

Apple Pie,
I had to work, but I hope that readers can help up out.

H Street Landlord said...

agreed apple pie.

can't wait to hear from folks that were there!

ohSnap said...

it was ROUSING!!!

@HStreetDC said...

Hey, Anon 9:52. Not much they could do about closing the auditorium off to late-comers. Fire code limits the capacity. Just the rules.
When the standing room space inside was full, they stopped allowing people to enter, but they did let more in as some attendees left early.
The Lang Theatre at the Atlas is the largest hall with A/V capability available for such a meeting.

Anonymous said...

Here are some updates from the meeting
- They did look at a number of options as due diligence, but finalized on going up the Hopscotch Bridge
- There is a good chance that a half a block on 3rd St (either N or S of H) will have a bit of track for an emergency pull out
- Construction (both on the bridge and the substations, car barn) will begin Spring 2012
- Test runs should start Spring 2013
- Goal is to be fully up and running by July 2013
- There are more details and a survey at http://www.dcstreetcar.com/

Anonymous said...

There will be another street car meeting on December 20 at the Atlas to just discuss the terminus. It will be at 6 pm. If Robby is reading this, I know he has concerns about the car barn at Springarn. This is one of the meetings that he should attend for sure.I think that we need to make sure that they keep their promise to make this a technical training school and that the car barn is not only attractive but safe.

Since the streetcar isn't going down 2nd street, there should be plenty of seats available. No doubt that was the best organized group of nimbus that I have ever met. They showed up in numbers and were even joking about sitting by house number.

City Paper has an excellent recap of the meeting.

Tom A. said...

ugg,. I had a lenghty recount of the meeting, but forgot I can't post using firefox... so lost it all.

here are the highlights.

At least 30% nimbys in the audience concerned bring "those people" on public transit by their homes. I'd like to know when the last time any of them have taken a bus in DC.

My concerns: Streetcar will be run more like the circulator rather than WMATA. (presenters words) This is RAIL, not a bus line on tracks. Why spend millions on a fancy bus line?

10-20 minute headways. 10 is fine, 20 is crazy, and will severely impact ridership. The streetcar should run on the same frequency as the metro.

I skipped most of the Q and A.

oboe said...

Hey tom a:

Thanks for the write-up. I was curious about this, though:

Streetcar will be run more like the circulator rather than WMATA.

Not sure what that means (since I don't have any context). I'm probably missing the point, but isn't Circulator better than WMATA buses?

Or are you comparing Circulator vs Metro Rail? Or something else?

OhSnap said...

militant capitol hill nimbys make such good people-watching! Not in front of my house rah rah rahhhhhh

Anonymous said...

Housing Complex has a good summary of the meeting: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2011/12/06/streetcar-going-up-the-h-street-bridge-after-all/

oboe said...

Ah, okay, "headways". Though perhaps that will increase over time...

Anonymous said...

I think that Bellamy was referring to the Circulator hours of operation more than anything else. DC has lots more flexibilibilty with the Circulator than the WMATA system. Hours can be extended, headways can be changed to meet demand, ; unknown is the transfer situation. The streetcar may require full fare.

Tom A. said...

Oboe- I was hoping this would be part of the metro system which is known and loved by people all over the world. No one has ever heard of the circulator until they get here. I want this to be treated like a train, not a bus. For example, the green line in Boston is actually light rail, not heavy rail. But it's treated like all of the other lines in Boston. It's on every subway map, etc. No one knows it's "just" a streetcar line.

Anonymous said...

What does "nimbys" stand for? I was at the meeting and thought it was a good presentation. The technical folks did most of the talking with the mayor not really saying all that much except the "not on 3rd street under my watch" statement. You could tell that folks were quite perturbed that there may be a small section of the track that runs on third street as a bypass if needed - but there wasn't any time left to address that point as that was the last question answered at the meeting. The Ward 6 council member also expressed concern over the fact that there would be wires run overhead supplying energy to the streetcars - despite the fact that the project manager stated that the wires were not the traditional wires that come to mind, but rather not thicker than a pen. I think there was also some concern about the power supply hub which would be located on 12th and H....

Tom A. said...

anon 10:27: He also satated the fares would be similar to the circulator. I'd like the streetcar to be fully integrated in WMATA, but sure if that's desired by the powers that be. Having it be a part of a regional transit system would also help with future linkages to Silver Spring and other non-DC sites. I'd like to hear from transit experts on that topic though.

Anonymous said...

Yep. The nimbys were something else. Clearly and loudly uninformed. It was a good thing that Gray and Wells caved so quickly, otherwise we would not have been able to discuss or listen to anything else besides how the world would end if the streetcar went down 2nd St. Too bad these folks are not working on ending DC hunger.

Anonymous said...

The union WMATA system would cost tons more money than the Circulator. Nor is WMTA responsive to customer needs. They have to hold a press conference when they ix a escalator. I think that we will be better off under local control.
I'm pretty sure that google and bing will be adding the street car to their map

Anonymous said...

NIMBY: Not In My BackYard

Anonymous said...

NIMBY: North American Man/Boy Love Association

Anonymous said...

i was one of the people that was told couldn't go in due to capacity issues, which was infuriating as I rushed to leave work "early" in order to get there a bit after 7pm. was told to come to dec 20 mtg, which starts at 6pm....um hello, it was hard enough to make a 7pm mtg, how is a 6pm one any consolation or more helpful??? however, after a few ANC reps and other electeds were welcomed in late as i stood there i made a bit of a stink in lobby about being let in if they were allowing those folks in. technically, those electeds should, and likely do, have more access to mayor/ddot folks than i do to get this info. the guy wound up relenting and many folks were let in from that point on. ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad that some people could not make it in but there are fire code regulations and Atlas could be fined for breaking them. Considering Atlas donated the use of the space and incurred the cost of paying at least two staff people to be there I think we need to be more understanding and have respect for the law and for public safety.
The room was packed, standing room packed and letting everyone in would have been dangerous.
It's unfortunate but the theatre can not be made bigger.

Tom A. said...

The 20+ DC employees sitting down front should have given up their seats. But now that the NIMBYs won't be back, future meetings should be smaller. I'm looking forward to a meeting where more potential riders will be in attendence. With all of us white folks in the room, I thought I must have missed a recent Groupon or something.

Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting last night... got there about 5-10 mins early and it was already packed. The Mayor commented that this was a very full meeting and it seemed that he was not used to seeing his community meetings quite this full. For those who didn't make it inside, it is a real, full-scale auditorium. Tommy Wells later jokingly commented that it was a great trick to say that the tracks would go down 2nd and 3rd streets as it increased public attendance.

I don't live near 2nd and 3rd, but do live near 12th street. I have supported the idea of trolleys/streetcars but was always under the impression they would be only along the commercial corridor. I was very happy to hear the Mayor immediately say at the begining of the meeting that the options for the streetcars to go down 2nd and 3rd were non-starters.

It sounded like the Mayor may have attended the Logan school when he was young as he knew how narrow those streets are and that no way could they support a streetcar. He was essentially saying no streetcar on those streets on his watch. I don't know about the turn around mentioned on the above posts as I left just after Tommy Wells began to speak. Maybe someone else can comment to that?

The Engineer in charge, Nich Nicholson, said that the Mayor made clear that the streetcar would go to the top of the hopscotch bridge. Pedestrians would then walk to metro from there. From my understanding it is not possible to arrange for a turn-around in the garage and that the streetcar conductor would just walk to the rear of the car and drive it from that position. The Mayor did say that this is what he envisioned the conductors doing.

I really hope the December 20th meeting is re-scheduled for a different date. We need participation. The Engineer and this team seem very interested in public feedback. Input could really make any buildings, the new carbarn, or transformer building, much more estetically pleasing and perhaps even useful so that other businesses could be located on the same property. We don't want the carbarn area to look like the rail tracks behind Union Station. Bethesda did manage to put their bus garage under an office building. It would be great to see the land use for the carbarn done well.

Alan Page said...

Not sure whether Mayor Gray attended Logan, but my understanding is that he grew up around 6th & L St NE, so he should be quite familiar with the neighborhood.

oboe said...

Oboe- I was hoping this would be part of the metro system which is known and loved by people all over the world. No one has ever heard of the circulator until they get here. I want this to be treated like a train, not a bus. For example, the green line in Boston is actually light rail, not heavy rail. But it's treated like all of the other lines in Boston. It's on every subway map, etc. No one knows it's "just" a streetcar line.

I can see where you're coming from on this, but I think you're overstating the case a bit. People who live in the DC area have a much more gimlet-eyed view of Metro than "people around the world." In fact, as far as DC residents go, I don't know many people who take a metro bus when a Circulator is an option.

Not to be a "doomer" but one could make the argument that Metro is in a state of slow collapse. It's resurgence is going to be dependent on the whims of political interests in Richmond, Annapolis, and the feds. Currently the Metro board has eight members, two of those represent DC. The interests of the other six do not necessarily line up with the interests of DC.

If Metro is going to continue to be allowed to fall apart by suburban and down-state interests, it's going to be more and more critical to DC's interests to have a system that is focused on getting DC residents around town rather than predominately getting suburban commuters into town.

Coupled with the Circulator, and CaBi, the streetcar fits in nicely.

Tom A. said...

Oboe: Well said, despite the doom and gloom. But most everyone I know takes metro daily, even the people who actually live in DC! Metro is not going to fail, although it's going to continue to decline.

Do you see a day when DC becomes like SF with the suburbanites taking Bart (WMATA) and city folk taking MUNI (DC Streetcar)?

oboe said...

I suck at predictions, but that doesn't stop me from making them. I think it's largely dependent on the political climate of the suburbs.

One scenario is that we're going to see a continued ascendance of more urban residents in the suburbs as places like Tysons Corner, Rockville, and Gaithersburg grow more and more dense. If that cohort gains the upper hand in elections, we'll likely see a greater emphasis on maintaining transit to complement smart-growth policies.

If the proponents of suburban smart-growth fail to execute we could well see political support shrink, and shift towards throwing yet more money to suburban roads at the expense of "discredited boondoggles" like transit.

We're kind of at an inflection point.

While DC residents will continue to use Metro for as long as (and whatever level of service) the system exists, I can see how austerity measures might impact the level of service to the extent that it's largely a de facto commuter service. You already see slashed hours of operation and headways off-peak. It's not inconceivable that the suburban majority decides to close more stations, cut hours further, etc...

And service cuts have a tendency to further erode popular support. It's a vicious cycle.

andrew said...

Why spend millions on a fancy bus line?

People tote this line out, as if non-fancy bus lines don't cost millions to operate. Buses are expensive to purchase, expensive to maintain, and expensive to operate.

They also don't last very long, use expensive diesel fuel, and put a not-insignificant amount of wear on the streets.

I'm not saying that streetcars are necessarily cheap, although they are known for lasting much, much longer than buses, can carry more people with fewer vehicles (lower labor costs per passenger), and run on cheap electricity. I also believe that they're easier to work on from a maintenance perspective (steel wheels instead of tires; electric motors instead of diesel engines, no transmission).

Oh, and if you've ever rode on a modern streetcar (or even an old one), you'd know that they're nothing like a bus. No climb to board, several doors to board through, and a very smooth and quiet ride in a reasonably spacious vehicle. The complete opposite experience from riding a bus.

oboe said...

if you've ever rode on a modern streetcar (or even an old one), you'd know that they're nothing like a bus. No climb to board, several doors to board through, and a very smooth and quiet ride in a reasonably spacious vehicle. The complete opposite experience from riding a bus.

All of this is, of course, true.

I think that eventually it's a bit like bikeshare: There's no way to really explain it to some people. You just have to go ahead and implement it, people use it, and then, like bikeshare, a year goes by and it's pretty much uncontroversial.

Heck, forty years ago, these same people would be wringing their hands about what a stupid idea commercial jet travel is. Then you implement it, it makes everyone's lives marginally better, doesn't break the bank, and the naysayers pretend it was never controversial.

I think it was Blue Oyster Cult that once observed, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

emo said...

@Anon-11:16
hahahahahahaha, omg, hahahahahaha, sign, NAMBLA

Anonymous said...

:D you're welcome

Logan Parent said...

Some of those you refer to as NIMBYs were parents of Logan students, concerned about 32-ton streetcars literally driving in a big-ass circle around their school every 10-20 minutes. The original plan was to turn left on 3rd from H, then right on G to cross in front of Logan, left on 2nd to go down that side of Logan, left on F, then left on 3rd to make sure to circle the last side of Logan. There was also the concern for all the trees around the school being cut down for the height clearance and overhead wires (when Logan kids have been busily planting new trees and gardens), not to mention the basic elimination of the Safe Routes to School program at Logan--how are 3-5 years supposed to bike and walk safely while dodging 68 foot streetcars? I'm pretty sure most people on this site have learned to NEVER drive on 3rd, G or 2nd between 7:30-9a.m. when it's a giant clusterf*!* for Logan drop-off since the streets are so narrow. Throwing streetcars in would have been a disaster.

Anonymous said...

If Logan is. Neighborhood school, why the traffic jam for drop off? Don't kids walk to school any more?

wylie coyote said...

3 to 5 year olds would only be "dodging" streetcars if they were riding in traffic. Otherwise, they will be crossing at the crosswalk when it's safe, like they have to do in front of cars.

No one is ending vehicular traffic on 3rd because of Logan, so a streetcar is unlikely to cause much additional vehicular threat (the streetcar I have rode on, in New Orleans, went slow enough to jog in front of).

The main problem I see with using 3rd is how narrow it is, but if you get rid of on street parking along the route, that problem is solved.

wylie coyote said...

ps: for those who worry whether the laying of streetcar tracks would destroy the historic homes on 3rd street, how'd the homes around the eastern market metro survive that stop's construction? anyone have anecdotal evidence?

Anonymous said...

We should give a medal to the first public official with the balls to say that the Streetcar to Nowhere is total boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

"if you get rid of on street parking along the route, that problem is solved."

...and there we have the real concern behind all this BS.

H Street Landlord said...

Agreed. Public transit is much, much safer than riding in a car, for adults and children.

Anyway, I think if it furthers going to H st/K st downtown the H Street entrance could be better. Especially with an improved pedestrian entrance.

oboe said...

We should give a medal to the first public official with the balls to say that the Streetcar to Nowhere is total boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money.

Why is that? You might just as well give a medal to the public official who's willing to promise free off-street parking to every DC resident.

There's really no heroism in telling uninformed reactionaries the pleasant untruths that they desperately want to hear. Heck, Newt Gingrich is the GOP front-runner.

Anonymous said...

Logan is not actually a neighborhood school. It is a DCPS Montessori that was housed for many years at Watkins elementary and moved this year to the Logan building. It is open to all DC residents, should there be enough available slots.
Therefore you have families from all over the Hill and other neighborhoods attending the school. Hence the freak out about parking.