GGW Reports: Streetcars Could be Cut

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Thanks to all who sent links to the below report:

Greater Greater Washington is rallying the troops:

Last night, Council supporters and DDOT officials went to sleep with the understanding that the final budget negotiations had preserved the streetcar.

The line had been approved by the Committee on Public Works and Transportation last week, but the final proposed Budget Support Act removes it and returns funding to some of the Great Streets streetscapes which DDOT said they could backfill with federal funds.

Gray’s office is saying that the program isn’t “cut” because the budget hasn’t been voted on. It’s true that this proposal is a substitute amendment to the budget, which has to be approved by Council, but since Gray is the chairman, it’s essentially the baseline that they’ll be using to modify today, and unless the Council overrides this part to reinstate streetcars, they’re cut.

36 Comment

  • Greater Greater Washington is often so ridiculously one-sided in their reporting that it’s really hard to take them seriously as a news source. But if they’ve gotten the scoop this time, I for once commend them.

  • I don’t think Gray is really this stupid…at least I’m hoping he’s not this stupid.

  • Does Vincent Gray remember or even know that he is running for Mayor? Any reservations I had about voting for Fenty just went out the window. Gray shows zero leadership and stands for nothing except “It’s my turn and I want it.”

  • If true: Fucking stupid.

  • speaking of the Great Streets streetscape projects. Does anyone know when they break ground in adams morgan? Thought it was supposed to be this summer.

    As for the streetcars. Investing in them takes a lot of money up front but they will ultimately be able to replace a lot of buses which are loud and create carcinogen smog. Investing in infrastructure upfront is hard to justify but always pays off in the end. Just look at the metro. DC wouldn’t be half the city it is now without it.

  • And it’s actually putting businesses in vacant storefronts on H St. You can count the money coming in from increased tax revenue.

    And the feds are paying for a huge portion of the project. It’s like giving away free money.

    • ah

      When you count it does it exceeed the expenditures on street cars?

      • What’s the cost of not doing the project? What’s the cost of delaying the project? The answer isn’t -zero-.

        The street cars themselves are sitting in storage already partially purchased. I can guarantee you that canceling the contract will have a huge upfront cost a la the mess with the Metro rail car finances a few years ago.

        • what contracts are being canceled?

          • All the ones that depend on funding…how are you going to fix the street that’s torn up if the funding is gone? How are you going to pay for car storage if the funding is gone? If the project is being canceled because of the lack of funding, what are we going to do with the cars we’ve purchased? Did we purchase them in one lump sum? No, we didn’t. We financed them.

  • And where the heck is Tommy Wells? Why isn’t he out on the airwaves condemning this decision?

    Grow a sack Tommy.

  • Streetcars on H Street: Officially dead.

    I really hate to say it, but this is a told-you-so moment if there ever was one. Putting those tracks down was jumping the gun. There was no way in hell the necessary infrastructure could be completed in the short amount of time in the plan.

    Hopefully the funds and the will to complete it will get here before those tracks are paved over.

    • you haven’t been following this since the beginning, huh?
      guns weren’t really jumped. it just seems like it for those late to the table.

      • No, I’ve been following it for years. It’s very unfortunate that so many people such as yourself were fooled into believing that there would be a functioning streetcar line between Benning and Union Station just a couple years from now. I especially feel sorry for the fools who overspent on property in the area on speculation that the streetcar line would actually be built.

        • Well, breaking ground is actually a pretty good sign that the project is going to move forward.

          Unless you live in a banana republic.

          This is anti-gentrification at it’s best.

        • what exactly do you think i was fooled into? i was just saying that if you understood the chain of events you’d know why decisions were made. if you think decisions were made on the two-year-from-now projections, you are missing information.

          • I don’t know about you, but I’d call spending millions laying tracks before establishing a concrete plan for power/maintenance facilities and clearly not having a clue about how the Union Station terminus might work out is jumping the gun. It’s like building an enormous bridge when you don’t even know where the road is going.

  • Streetcar down Georgia Avenue would have been huge for Petworth peeps. Sad news.

  • Someone has posted this Craigslist ad:

    It’s pretty obvious that forgetting about this project isn’t going to negate the loss of money from buying these cars and never using them.

    • Whoever posted that isn’t too bright. Those streetcars will be used on the Anacostia demonstration line, which is under construction and fully funded.

      • i didn’t post it so i won’t take the blame BUT i am curious. is there any more info on the Anacostia line’s progress? i assumed that, given that project is already running half a decade behind, it would be canned along with the others.

      • I think this is an unfortunate decision, though I haven’t been following this closely.
        Were the H St streetcar tracks already put down? – I thought this was only going to happen pending funding.
        Also, aren’t the streetcars that have been purchased still going to be used on the Anacostia streetcar line? Or does this cut funding to both lines?
        If it cuts funding to both lines, does it make sense keeping the purchased streetcars?

        • About 2/3 of the street has tracks. The rest of the street is completely torn up. Most of the sidewalks aren’t walkable anymore. It’s a 6 lane road with ~2 passable lanes.

  • They need to park the street cars in front of the District building and tell the council “good luck” with them. So stupid.

  • What will become of the 49 million Gray rerouted from streetcars?
    from dcist:

    The money that had been meant for streetcars would be distributed among a variety of other programs, including playgrounds in Ward 8 and Georgetown.

    to that I say. If a dog park in Mclean Gardens costs half a million. you can bet a playground in Gtown costs 2 or 3 million. I’d LOVE to see Gray publish updates on where this money ends up daily on his website.

  • We need a streetcar tax, a rail tax, and an irresponsible politician tax to keep this moving forward. Do it for the kids, the elderly, and the sick.

  • Does anyone have any idea where the money for the Sherman Avenue Streetscape project stands amid all of the budget fights? Is the funding related to the Great Streets streetscapes, otherwise secured, or still subject to change?

    I dream of the day that driving down Sherman doesn’t feel like an obstacle course!

  • If the city can’t get this thing going, is there a possibility to sell off the rights to a private organization?

  • Gray made a decision that he can live without Ward 6 Voters.

  • Gray just cemented my vote for Fenty. Idiot.

  • Someone mentioned on DCist that Jim Graham voted with Gray to strip the funding.

    Please don’t re-elect this guy, please!

    • I take it back. Update: Graham voted with Wells and Evans.

      • According to Greater Greater Washington, and the latest PoP post, the vote was 11-2 to strip funds from streetcars. So I think Graham did vote to strip the funds.

  • I wish I knew about this when the Gray people were canvassing our neighborhood yesterday.

  • i think people still need to weigh their choices and not write off vinny so flippantly. his decision allows for the planning to continue, with the hopes of finding a more fiscally responsible way to do this. few of us DON”T want street cars, but many of us don’t want to dig ourselves into an even bigger financial hole to get them.

    • This planning BS is a red herring. The only “planning” is that the Committee of 100 didn’t want overhead power lines and was bound and determined to cancel the project. They found a sympathetic ear with V Gray’s Chief of Staff apparently.

      So now we’ve just flushed $10-20M down the drain. Great use of funds; I’ll bet you want more money too.

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