Housing Complex

Council Showdown This Afternoon on Overhead Wires

Old streetcar line photo courtesy of DDOT.

Old streetcar line photo courtesy of DDOT.

Councilmember Tommy Wells' bill to allow overhead wires to power the planned streetcar network is set for a hearing this afternoon in the Wilson Building. Twenty-eight people are signed up to testify (full list after the jump), from preservationists to environmentalists to H Street-affiliated groups that most need the overhead wire technology available now, rather than the wireless technology that is in development.

One of those signed up is George Clark, president of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, with whom Housing Complex spoke last week for a separate story. Here's a preview of what we can expect from his testimony:

"We’ve always been public transportation advocates. But we’re not advocates of doing things in a slipshod manner. We’ve just become terribly disappointed in what we’ve seen as a lack of planning on the H street route," Clark said, criticizing the state of planning for the terminus of the route at Union Station. "That’s the kind of thing that ends up with the city wasting tens of millions of dollars. We’ve said, let’s do streetcars right."

"When I look down Pennsylvania Avenue, I see a vista. I don’t see overhead wires, utility or otherwise. I see clear views. I think someone was pretty smart back in 1889," Clark continued. "By the time this system could be fully built, streetcar technology is going to be wireless. Quite frankly, I don’t see why there should be wires in H street and Anacostia, and wireless downtown and in Georgetown. One of the things in the committee we’re always trying to do is be more inclusive and citywide."

Housing Complex will be getting a root canal during the hearing, but remains confident that recaps will abound. If you'd like to tune in during work, the webcast is here.


Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on Public Works and Transportation
Agenda and Witness List



B18-823, the “Transportation Infrastructure Amendment Act of 2010”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20004





Panel 1
1.    Rich Bradley, President, DC Surface Transit, Inc.
2.    Jason Broehm, Chair, Transportation Committee Sierra Club – Washington DC Chapter
3.    Anwar Saleem, Executive Director, H Street Main Street
4.    Alison Reardon

Panel 2
5.    Bradley Green
6.    Tom Metcalf
7.    Ellen McCarthy
8.    Brett Rodgers

Panel 3
9.    Liz de Bagara
10.    Kenneth Archer
11.    Tony Richardson, Commissioner ANC 6C05
12.    David Holmes, Commissioner ANC 6A03

Panel 4
13.    Meg Maguire, Committee of 100 on the Federal City
14.    Monte Edwards, Capitol Hill Restoration Society
15.    George Clark, Chairman, Committee of 100 on the Federal City
16.    David Alpert, www.greatergreaterwashington.org

Panel 5
17.    Andrea Ferster, DC Surface Transit Inc.
18.    Crystal Sullivan
19.    Mark Bradshaw, Rappaport Management Company and Parcel Services Associates, LLC
20.    Martin Schroeder, American Public Transportation Association

Panel 6
21.    Scott Leonard
22.    Michael Stevens, Executive Director, Capitol Riverfront BID
23.    Jeff Oser
24.    David Bernhardt

Panel 7
25.    Jerry Clark, Chair, DC for Democracy
26.    Jen DeMayo,  Communications Director, Atlas Performing Arts Center
27.    Samuel Swiller, Associate Director, Real Estate Development Gallaudet University
28.    Lance Brown


Gabe Klein, Director of the District Department of Transportation

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    This whole streetcar thing has been a GIANT screw-up from the beginning, YOU TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, Ha!

  • DC Citizen

    Wow that George Clark has some serious obfuscation skills. He manages to conflate all roads with Pennsylvania Ave., throw out vague accusations of waste, and finish up with a completely bullshit claim that they're actig in the interests of poor people by standing in the way.

    When I stand on H St. I don't see vistas. All I see is potential. Oh and maybe if I squint I'll see all the overhead wires that are already there. Clark has no interest intransit. His group is nothing but a small group of formerly influential people who want the city to stay as it was in the 80s and for all these damn people to get out of their cars' way. The Committee of 100 doesn't want a city, they want a dollhouse.

  • Eric

    Rick, clearly you haven't been paying attention. Or you just don't like streetcars. You also imply that they're not YOUR tax dollars at work, so you must not even live in the city. I appreciate my tax dollars being spent wisely on this project. If you could shut your trap, please. Thank you.

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    'Eric', My father had a saying, "It's better to remain quiet and let people assume that your are stupid, then open your mouth and remove all doubt". Since you have OPEN YOUR MOUTH, I have lived in this city for over fifteen years and I am tired of paying taxes for stupid ass projects that have not been thought thu, this boondoggle is a disrace! Why don't you go to the business owners along H street and spill your line of crap to them and see what happens!

  • ibc

    We’ve just become terribly disappointed in what we’ve seen as a lack of planning on the H street route...

    Always find this argument entertaining. The whole point of installing the tracks on H Street now is to leverage the construction that's currently ongoing as part of the Great Streets initiative. That construction would be happening whether streetcars were on the horizon or not.

    For once, someone in DDOT showed a bit of foresight, and rolled the installation of the tracks into the larger construction effort, rather than tearing everything up again in 3, or, 5, or 10 years.

    Is it the official position of the Committee of 100 to block any streetcar on H Street? Or just to pressure for better planning? If the latter, they should say so. If the former, then they should STFU.

  • ibc

    Oh, and Rick Mangus: You sound like one of the shining lights of DC's circle of serious intellectuals. Thanks for gracing us with your insights. Seriously.