The Washington Post

Did the D.C. council put the brakes on more streetcars?

Last Tuesday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) announced, fewer than 24 hours before the only vote on D.C.’s budget, that he was proposing slashing funding for the streetcar. The money would pay for, among other things, a package of tax cuts. What does this mean for the streetcar?

It’s been difficult to answer that question, because Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s (D) budget office and the D.C. Council budget office don’t agree. Especially last week, with little time to understand the change, dueling analyses clouded the picture. It’s starting to come into focus, though questions remain.

There is funding to build streetcars at a slow to moderate pace. And D.C. could fund more lines once a few lines get done. But the Gray administration says Mendelson’s change may halt exactly the mechanism the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) hopes will get the project to move faster, stop having so many delays and get out of the mire it’s been in: a partnership with a consortium of companies to design, build, operate, and maintain the streetcar.

Does this affect the H Street streetcar?

It doesn’t appear so. The first segment of the streetcar will run from behind Union Station, along H Street and Benning Road to Oklahoma Avenue, near the Anacostia River. That is under active construction and will open — sometime. I’m hearing maybe the end of 2014 year. That’s frustratingly long and disappointing since until the very end of last year Gray was promising it would open in 2013.

DDOT has already done studies to continue the line to the Minnesota Avenue Metro. According to information from Gray spokesperson Pedro Rebeiro, the budget still has funding that would pay for that segment.

What about the rest of the system?

[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.


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