The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) originally planned to place tracks on the local span of the new 11th Street bridge. This would allow future streetcar service to span the river, like that planned in D.C.’s streetcar plan, without an expensive construction project tearing up the just-completed bridge.

That plan fell apart earlier this year, when officials from FTA told DDOT they can’t put the tracks in the project, which uses federal funding.

DDOT spokesperson John Lisle confirmed that the tracks will not be in the project, but noted that it is being made “streetcar ready,” so that tracks can be added in the future without major changes to the bridge.

Lisle says that D.C. will save some money, at least $1.5 million, of the $300 million project for not putting in the tracks, but it will cost more to install the tracks later. DDOT doesn’t have figures on how much, exactly, it will cost in the future to add tracks.

Adding them later will also force DDOT to close down lanes on the bridge. Right now, the bridge is being built next to the old bridge, allowing all of the traffic that currently uses the bridge to keep doing so during almost all of the construction. Once the new bridge opens and the old one demolished, a track project will require interfering with existing traffic.

So why couldn’t DDOT include the tracks? Environmental review rules, federal officials’ interpretations of those rules, and DDOT’s eagerness to move quickly all mixed together.

[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.