Housing Complex

What’s on the Table for North-South Streetcar? (Everything)

The District Department of Transportation has kicked off its planning process for the second major streetcar corridor, following the H Street-Benning Road line that's set to open next year and then extend westward to Georgetown. The north-south line is planned as a nine-mile route from Buzzard Point to Takoma or Silver Spring, aimed at connecting the planned D.C. United soccer stadium, the Southwest Waterfront, the National Mall, downtown, Howard University, the redeveloped Walter Reed Campus, and Metro stations along the way.

So what route will the line take? Well, according to DDOT, here are the potential routes it's considering:

streetcar zoomed out

Let's zoom into the central section of the corridor:


The north-south roads under consideration are, from west to east: 14th Street, 13th Street, 11th Street, 9th Street/Sherman Avenue, and 7th Street/Georgia Avenue. In other words, every continuous north-south road within the study corridor—plus a whole bunch of east-west streets to connect them, in case DDOT wants to go for more than one.

One thing DDOT officials say they'd prefer to avoid is traffic circles, given the mess of trying to navigate streetcars, buses, cars, and bikes around them. That would theoretically eliminate routes solely along 14th and 13th streets. 11th Street probably isn't a great candidate, since it terminates at Spring Road in Columbia Heights (and its old trolley line ended at the turnaround that's now the 11th and Monroe Park). Nor is Sherman Avenue, which was recently reduced to one lane of traffic in either direction as part of the traffic-calming streetscape project. That leaves Georgia Avenue as perhaps the most attractive option, since it (with its 7th Street extension) runs the length of the corridor. Indeed, DDOT says on its website that "some residents refer to this as the 'Georgia Avenue Line.'"

But Georgia is already a highly traveled bus corridor, making a streetcar somewhat duplicative. And there's always the chance of a line that cuts east-west between two or more north-south streets. As DDOT is making clear, everything's still on the table.

Maps via DDOT

  • ACommuterInTheCity

    that there is already heavy surface transit usage on Ga sounds like an argument FOR putting the street car there, since the street car can handle high volumes well.

    Its also got lots of development potential.

    IIUC the arguments against Ga ave are A. it duplicated the Green line and B. its too far east of the principle employment center downtown.

    A - well for one the kinds of short on off trips street cars are best for are not the same as the ones metro is best for. Plus there are sections in between the metro stations that are not well served (and of course the area between Petworth and Silver Spring). And that line, if not already overburdened, will become more crowded with growth in DC and PG.

    B- the center of employment seems to be moving east.

  • noodlez




  • Dave

    While I realize the previous comment is a joke, In all seriousness they should consider Wisconsin Ave before 2099. It is a totally underserved area generally with no alternative transportation methods other than bus. While construction would be a pain, it would help alleviate the traffic bottlenecks there and I think the white folk would actually approve of it (some vocal NIMBYs would oppose virtually anything however).

  • tntdc

    Other than the very popular circulator, there's a big need up and down the hill between U and Columbia heights. I'd say run the line up 14th to CH and then to Ga Ave and terminate in Silver Spring.

  • Corky

    You mean they are actually going to plan this one out insteadof just shove a half baked idea down the peoples' throats like they've done so far?

  • Will

    While Georgia Avenue from Petworth to Silver Spring is definitely the right alignment for that segment, I'm really glad you raised the issue of the right alignment in the center city to Columbia Heights stretch. I would say it's got to be either 11th Street or 14th Street purely for right of way and economic development reasons. If the traffic circles are out of the question, then 11th becomes the best choice.

    Try out this alignment from downtown headed North, 11th to Vermont to Florida to Sherman to New Hampshire to Georgia.

    There's a lot of transition between streets, but it covers an underserved area of the CBD, covers Logan Circle and the western part of shaw - both underserved by transit, hits the U street metro east entrance, hits the new Atlantic Plumbing developments at Florida and Sherman, heads up the least steep hill (Sherman), covers eastern Columbia Heights and Park View - both underserved by metro, makes another then makes another Metro connection at Petworth before continuing along Georgia Ave to hit all the spots that are hurting because of Walter Reed closure, and primes the area for a redevelopment.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/one-killed-in-officer-involved-shooting-in-southeast-dc/2013/04/09/c1802102-a0fc-11e2-be47-b44febada3a8_story.html Owen

    Silver Spring Metro then south on Georgia Ave (past Walter Reed)
    SW on Colorado Ave to 14th St
    S on 14th to Columbia Heights Metro
    E on Columbia Rd to Sherman (2 blocks W of HU)
    SE on Florida Ave to North Capitol St
    SE on Massachusetts Ave (past Union Station)
    S on 1st St NE/SE to National Stadium and new DC United Stadium

    Then returning N on 6th St (past Mall)
    To reconnect with southbound tracks at Florida Ave

    I live on 14th not far from the Petworth Metro. There's no reason for it to connect with both CH Metro and Pet Metro.

  • Bob See

    I guess space and right of ways will magically appear at the SS metro, for free. The "no-brainer" SS terminus of a streetcar line DC is paying for sure is being heavily lobbied for.

    How about keeping the terminus in DC as originally planned? Metrorail already gets people to and from the burbs.

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  • DC Guy

    Yes on Wisconsin Avenue Line.

    Yes on 11th Street Alignment.

    Why not run a spur, so alternating trains go to SS and TP?

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  • noodlez


  • Yo Yo

    noodles, google is your friend: https://www.facebook.com/groups/264242402429/

  • muskellunge

    noodlez: your comment is on point. But it is dated: GA Ave is no longer the hood, but is on its way to Disneyification.

  • Sherman Circle

    They really need to give the street cars an exclusive-use track. Busses can dodge in and out of traffic. These things are on a track and are not going anywhere. Can't wait for someone to put on their flashers so they can run into Starbucks during their morning commute.

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