Housing Complex

Where the Streetcar Ends

I'm going into a lot more detail on this in my print column this week, but since the Post went ahead and mentioned what the District Department of Transportation is thinking about vis-a-vis the H Street line's terminus at Union Station—after it came to light that the original plan for running it straight underneath Amtrak's tracks had been kiboshed—I thought I'd add a visual.

The first option, on the left, would put a stop on top of the Hopscotch bridge, requiring passengers to walk through the bus garage and down escalators into Union Station. DDOT has determined that the bridge is structurally sound enough to handle the weight, but would still need to complete planned reinforcements; they don't know whether streetcar service could continue simultaneously. Since the trolley can run in both directions, it would not need to turn around in the garage, which will soon be full of intercity bus services anyway.

The second option, in the middle, would punch a hole through the Hopscotch bridge and then turn south on 2nd Street NE, putting a stop right around Ebenezers Coffee on F Street. You can see the station from there, but it's still a little bit of a walk to Metro.

The third option would turn north to connect to the red line at New York Avenue, jog west along M Street, and come back down First Street NE to end right around Union Station's Metro entrance. Creating a no-fare zone between New York Avenue and Union Station could be a great way to integrate NoMa, especially during seasons when the ten-minute walk in between them is less pleasant.

All of these will be evaluated by the four firms bidding on on the design/build contract. And there are more complications to how this will all play out, which you can read about here tomorrow.

  • Alan

    Option 4 makes the most sense to me: turn toward NY Ave Metro and end there. Connections can be made either from NY Ave Metro or by walking from Union Station to H Street.

  • Alan

    Alternately, it could make a circle: turn south on 3rd, west on G, south on 2nd, then east on either F or G and back north on 3rd.

  • Option 5

    Spend 5 minutes figuring this and the enormous host of other obstacles out prior to ordering street cars and then paying to store them for what will be six years. Getting 4 years into this 1 mile long project and not knowing how these things are going to be powered, or where their alignment is, is simply embarrasing.

    I mean really folks...do you think CSX or Amtraks first step when they want to build a new line is "ordering trains"?

    The answer is no.

  • Skipper

    The DDOT "planning" is astonishing.

    If DDOT had been responsible for planning D-Day, it would look like this:

    1. Announce victory over Hitler will come in 3 years.
    2. Revise that to be victory in 2 years.
    3. Buy victory parade items.
    4. Go to community meetings telling them how great victory will be.
    5. Revise the victory timeline some more.
    6. Begin gathering an army.
    7. Begin negotiations with allies.
    8. Create nice pictures of what victory will look like.
    9. Plan how to fight the war.
    10. Revise victory deadline again.

  • MJ

    Talk of the streetcar depresses me...

  • CJ

    Right, because this is completely DDOT's fault. They spent 3 years negotiating with Amtrak to figure out how to get a train track into a train terminal. They were then told by the Train company that they can't do that, since the train company wants to keep their options open for future trains, instead of allowing this train to stop there.

  • CJ

    Am I the only one who thinks these three options make Union station look like a no fly zone for transportation? How crazy is that? Has Amtrak contributed one single useful iota of effort to get this transport mode into the station?

  • Steve S.

    Plus Amtrak will get money for it's precious 220 mph NEC service just about the same time Earth establishes a colony on the moons of Jupiter.

  • norb

    the hopscotch bridge option seems the simplest and one that can make the bridge and the back side of union station more integrated into the city.

  • Whoa_now

    Why can't the tram go completely over hopscotch bridge and either cut through the bridge to 1st. Terminus like version 3..or cut down east capitol. Has anyone considered whats best for phase 2 as well-so we don't have tracks a block away from each other (I wouldn't put it past DDOT). IMO, the streetcars will only be a success if they actually connect east/west/north/south with access points to different lines on the metro. So they basically need to do all three phases, or at the very least 2 phases. If the street car ends withit just being H street. then its a failure-and truly a bridge to nowhere. If thats the case-then it needs to end as close to the union station metro as possible if not in it(Gray needs to spend some political capital against Amtrak on this, if he sees it going nowhere after the HStreet line)...to atleast give it some utility.

  • That Guy in DC

    The train needs to go completely over hopscotch bridge. Why would DDOT build infrastructure on 2nd and/or 1st Street(s) when the long-term plan is to continue west to New Jersey Ave and then head north to K Street? Any infrastructure built off of H Street will be a waste of funds--unless DDOT has no intention of extending the streetcar further.

    Why not terminate nearer to New Jersey Ave--where at least there can be a tie-in between activities in Chinatown/Downtown and the H street Corridor?

  • Jack

    I've never really understood the point of the streetcar taking NJ ave up to K Street rather than staying on H Street through Chinatown/Metro Center and then cutting up to K (perhaps at the reopened 10th Street, through City Center).

    Otherwise, cutting up to K so early requires a big workaround at the Convention Center/historical society.

  • Hillman

    I like the 2nd Street option. Better than escalators and walking through parking garages.

    And 2nd Street is mostly businesses, not residential. Maybe with a trolley there a few would apply to become retail, serving the immediate community considerably better than the lobbyist offices that most of them currently are.

  • blkwrestl

    As much as I love trains and light rail,this whole endeavor is a complete waste. Similarly, can someone explain where the light rail at Bolling Airforce is going? I see tracks basically to nowhere. Why didn't DDOT look at Baltimore's light rail system for ideas and suggestions? The light rail system works very well, is safe and quite expedient. You can travel from Glen Burnie/BWI all the way to Timonium.

  • Hillman

    I'd also argue the 2nd Street stop would incorporate more of Capitol Hill into the trolley footprint.

  • Si Kailian

    are they taking burnham place into account when "planning"??

  • er

    i like the ny ave metro connection idea.

  • Pingback: NoMa Turnaround For H Street Streetcars « DC NoMa

  • Kyle

    It's best to connect to NY Ave Metro ... It adds more use for the streetcar, connects into NOMA, and is prime for further expansion when needed.


    I'd actually like to see it do a loop around Union Station using the drop off /pickup areas currently used by buses and cars along Mass Ave. It would be very cool to have a very prominent drop off for the trolley in front of the station.

    They could return on North Capitol to the Hop Scotch Bridge and then back down to H St. The only issue is the grade change between H St, F St and back up to Mass Ave. I'm not sure if the existing trolleys have the HP to climb that hill.

    That makes it a majority of right hand turns except for the initial left to go down 2nd. It also finishes the track on the hopscotch bridge for the connection through H ST NW to downtown in one project.

  • andrew

    Actually, Amtrak is reserving the space for employee *CARS.*

    That said, the original proposal to run the streetcar under the bridge wasn't great.

    However, we also need to consider the ramifications that the proposed routing will have on future streetcar service downtown. The H St Streetcar was originally supposed to travel all the way across town via K St. I maintain that this is still a good plan, as long as it takes a reasonable route...

  • Dave

    I hope if this is the plan we have been waiting 6-8 years for that the X2 and X9 are still running because those of us living in the Atlas district need a tram which runs to Chinatown. Without that the tram is almost useless for us. Why go to Union Station when we can get to Chinatown without having to walk or transfer.