Housing Complex

Streetcars Won’t Be Arriving on H Street Any Time Soon


In late August, constructions crews temporarily closed down sections of H Street NE so streetcar tracks could be laid down, prompting a number of people–like me–to go "Huh? What? Streetcar? Since when?" Or as one commenter to put it:

"I’m sorry, but how on earth does this make sense? It’s not going to connect to Union Station (red line, Amtrak & MARC). Nor is it going to go across the river to Minnesota Ave (orange) or Benning Rd. It’s a waste."

The jury's still out for me. If H Street becomes the new U Street–and really is there a better contender in D.C.?–then maybe a street car makes sense. Plus, a street line will likely stimulate further development.

But the answers to these questions won't be arriving any time soon. According to a story in yesterday's Washington Post, the streetcar plans are barely hatched.

Late last month, the District closed two intersections to cross-traffic along H Street NE to install tracks for a separate streetcar line. Klein said his department decided to lay that track because other work was going on in the area.

Engineers still need to find a way to power the cars on H Street and find places for the streetcars to turn around, said transportation spokesman John Lisle. They also need to find a place to store and maintain the cars on that line.

Image by NCinDC, Flickr Creative Commons

  • DB

    Street cars sound cool and all,

    ...but it's basically a bus trapped on an unmovable rail line, right?

    Why not just buy buses that look cool.

    Is there a benefit to using less-versatile technology? More energy efficient or something?

    It's like when folks say "let's replace chronically broken metro escalators with stairs." Chronically broken metro escalators ARE STAIRS already. Why spend the money?

  • jcm

    Your commenter is wrong. The proposed alignment is from Minnesota Ave station to Union Station.

    DB, the theory is that people who won't take buses will take streetcars. Streetcars are meant to spur development more than buses because ofthe decreased stigma and because they can't be moved.

  • G

    The headline is misleading considering the what the Post article actually stated. I don't think anyone is expecting the cars to be running overnight anyway. As Gabe Klein said, this is a decades-long project.

  • dbh

    Such a poorly written and researched piece. The city is installing streetcar tracks while H Street NE is being torn up for other work. It's actually a rare act of forward planning on the city's part. And yes, the line will connect with Union Station. It's not like these plans haven't been circulating for several years now.

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