H Street, NE Street Car Deployment Delayed Until “Fall 2013”

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

Thanks to everyone for sending links to yesterday’s WTOP story:

The earliest any streetcar will roll through the streets of the District is now expected to be 2013 — and late 2013 at that, WTOP has learned.

“2013 is what we are telling people now,” John Lisle, spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Transportation, tells WTOP. “We’re probably looking at the fall of 2013.”

A source also tells WTOP that the Anacostia segment of the streetcar system — which was supposed to be the first segment running — has now moved in back of H Street. An environmental review process is currently underway on the Anacostia line segment, and service on that line now isn’t likely until somewhere nearer 2014, or possibly even later.

So I guess that makes 2033 for Georgia Ave…

55 Comment

  • I’m shocked!!!

  • God Hate Streetcar

  • God Like Streetcar
    Gray Hate Streetcar

  • I understand laying the tracks down while road work was peformed to reduce the disturbance on businesses, but why wouldn’t they have more urgency to work out a deal for the connection at Union Station. Considering it is the first part of the planned streetcar network that’s not a good sign for the future.

    • Because V Gray doesn’t want streetcars. Streetcars bring wealth and he thinks that means fewer black people will be around.

  • Ugh. I was disturbed to hear about this delay yesterday, but can’t say I’m really surprised. What I want to know is why DDOTDC just said two months ago that it would be finished next year. I’m forced to believe that they are holding back real information or are incompetent. I’m not sure which I’d prefer.

    At least the streetscape is completed (as of this morning). It looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It was mentioned during the ribbon cutting that 55 new businesses opened on H during the last two years, during the construction. Just imagine what’s going to happen now.

    • It looks OK, but the space required by the streetcar system has destroyed the little greenery on H St and leaves very little space for trees.

      • There are new treeboxes all up and down the new H street. It’s just that the new trees haven’t had time to grow.

        I agree that it will look a lot better when there is more greenery.

        • it’s going to be the best looking commercial stretch in dc.

        • “Best looking.” You must own property on H St. Stop with the hyperbole, please.

          • dude, bugger off with your assumptions. i don’t. i live in nw. my statement was clearly an opinion. you don’t share it? fine. but people can like an area they don”t live in.

          • I don;t live near H street either and I think it looks real swell.

  • From the WTOP story:

    “D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has fast-tracked the project.”

    My dictionary must be out of date. I didn’t know “fast-tracked” really means “tried to kill.”

    • How has he tried to kill it?

      • http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/5967/breaking-gray-cuts-streetcars-now-restored/

        Gray took the funding out of the budget, only put it back in after a veritable shitstorm was raised by nearly everyone

      • He tried to kill it last year, slipping it into the proposed budget at 2 a.m. when he thought no one would be paying attention. When faced with the ensuing s—storm of opposition to this move, he changed course and then blamed it on a staffer.


        Somehow, this guy got elected mayor.

      • wait… so why dont you guys also talk about the 100mil he put in THIS years budget? Not just something that didnt actually ever go forward in LAST years budget? Sounds like you have more of an anti-gray agenda than anything to do with the street cars?

        • Don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a mayor who makes the right decision, instead of having to be forced by the electorate to make the right decision. Is that a fair statement, or would you also call it partisan?

          The only reason Gray is doing anything positive for streetcars was because of the public outcry associated with his trying to kill it. Had he gone forward and not reversed his position back then, he’d not be mayor today. If he does anything now besides the people’s will regarding streetcars, he will *certainly* be recalled.

          • His position on street cars explained in a nutshell.

          • I think you vastly over estimate the popularity of the street cars and i think you are cynical about the motivations of Gray and do not offer the same level of cynicism to his predecessors or future successors.

          • It’s not about popularity. I don’t really care about street cars in and of themselves, but I understand that killing the project would have caused home values to suddenly plummet along the H Street corridor. If that’s not political suicide, nothing is.

            This isn’t anything more than judging a man by his actions. Do you have a problem with anyone judging Gray by his actions?

          • ‘The only reason Gray is doing anything positive for streetcars was because of the public outcry associated with his trying to kill it.’

            Gray’s FY12 budget contained $99 million for streetcars over the next 5 years, despite the severe budget shortfall – it doesn’t exactly sound like he is being forced to do anything positive for streetcars, but has himself chosen to. I’d also like to see data to indicate what exactly is the people’s will on streetcars in the first place – you assume it is a bigger priority than is probably the case. I would suggest focusing more on the reality of the mayor’s policies and less on any distaste you have for the mayor himself.

          • “I’d also like to see data to indicate what exactly is the people’s will on streetcars in the first place”

            Now I’ll quote myself:

            “It’s not about popularity.”

            It’s not about the popularity of the cars. It’s about the consequences of killing/underfunding, which would be severely depressed home prices along H — a sort of localized real estate bubble pop. If you polled people on whether they desired housing collapse on H, they would universally say “no”. If prices on H did sharply drop, even the strongest Gray supporters would vote him out. The people’s will is to avoid economic catastrophes.

            “it doesn’t exactly sound like he is being forced to do anything positive for streetcars, but has himself chosen to.”

            Yes, he did change sides, but the motivating force behind that flip flop had nothing to do with anything besides political self preservation. Can you point to the moment where he had some internal awaking regarding streetcars, and then the next day called a press conference to announce it? You can’t, but I can certainly point to the day he realized he couldn’t do anything but support streetcars *and* have a political future. Quickest and most severe backpedal in local politics ever. It was an embarrassing day for everyone.

          • Tres, I dont think you understand dc politics very well or the sentiment that brought Gray into office in the first place. All the people who cared about streetcars voted against him in the election. He still won.

          • Because streetcars were able to proceed, a lot of voters were able to grasp onto the One City theme rather than dwell on the streetcar debate. Had he killed streetcars and put the lie to centerpiece of his campaign, the cognitive dissonance would have been overwhelming — and all the creative class voters who were critical in electing him would have jumped ship. It would have turned from an embarrassing headline into months-long debate that would have driven a wedge between him and the folks in Wards 1 – 3 who voted for him.

            You can’t win DC in the twenty-teens with one demographic. Gray himself knew this, and that’s why he chose to run on a “unifying” concept: One City. He knew he had to win some Ward 3 folks, as ridiculous as they are sometimes.

          • I can agree with you that Council Chair Gray was made aware of the political support for streetcars, and reversed the poorly-handled decision to delay funding. But I agree with Anon at 5:25 that streetcars, or even H Street housing price changes, aren’t the main priority of DC voters – certainly not to the extent that would lead to a recall (even if streetcars may have garnered him some votes in the last election). Polls show education and the economy to be our top priorities.
            “If you polled people on whether they desired housing collapse on H, they would universally say “no”.”
            But, if you polled people on whether they desired more affordable housing options, they would universally say “yes”.
            People in this city are motivated by different interests.

          • Tres, you are vastly overestimating the power of the H Street Gentrification Brigade. There was nearly an internet riot when David Alpert endorsed Gray. Also, your claim that Ward 3 Gray supporters somehow give a damn about street cars reveals your mistaken perspective on DC Politics. Ward 3 is the epicenter of the elite’s anti-street car movement.

            Gray got support in Ward 3 because some high profile Ward 3 residents endorsed him. Fenty stepped on a lot of toes and some of those toes were well-heeled.

            I voted for Fenty, but I had to hold my nose to do it. The ONLY reasons I did revolved around transportation planning, development, and education reform. I didnt think Gray would outright damage these, but I did think he was far too process oriented and would get bogged down in compromise and details and he wanted to make everyone happy, which would never happen.

            However, as far as compromise and leading with consensus goes, Fenty was absolutely one of the worst politician I’ve seen, on par with Chris Christie or Scott Walker.

            There’s a time for building consensus and then there’s a time to act boldly to do whats best, regardless of the political capital spent. Neither Fenty nor Gray knew how to strike this balance.

            As far as cronyism and corruption goes, I cant see any light between them on that issue.

  • msmaryedith

    What the hell are they going to do that will take 2 1/2 more years? This is already a ridiculously slow-moving project and those of us living in the neighborhood have suffered throughout the construction process. It’s pretty unfathomable that it could be so poorly planned.

    • Seriously, we have suffered. My car has suffered from trying to navigate those horrible roads during that construction.

    • They are going to deal with the Hopscotch Bridge turnaround (negotiations & construction). This is what is taking the longest time. They also need to get all of the substations up and running, figure out what streetcars they are going to use, and install the Oklahoma Ave turnaround. This is actually the first projected end date that sounds accurate to me, but it’s going to take a lot of community pressure to even meet this.

      I mean, not three months ago they were still saying the street car system would be ready in ‘early 2012’. Very, very disappointing.

  • 1/4 of 8 years????????

  • It’s goons like Gray and the dysfunctional DC Council that make our entire system of government look absolutely pathetic. Meanwhile, China gets shit like this done…in 4 years.


    • All to save 20 minutes travel time…. Wow that is freaking impressive.

      Could you imagine the increases in productivity and efficiency if the DC Metro area could reduce commutes by 20 minutes?
      I bet all of NOVA would simultaneously orgasm, then fix healthcare in the afterglow.

      • me

        It’s a lot more than that- imagine all of the federal workers that are working or are being transferred to the Bolling AFB / St. Elizabeth’s area within the next few years. This would have helped SO MUCH. Not just for 20 minutes.

  • I’m really bummed this is taking so long cause I want streetcars and I want them yesterday. I also want streetcars going up and down Rhode Island Avenue and that’s not going to happen till H is long done.

    Didn’t the article imply that some other group would build the next phase after this?

  • Why is everyone so shocked? I mean, c’mon, they still have to purchase streetcars (the couple of now nearly 10-year old cars aren’t enough), design electric network, build substations and electric lines, figure out how to build the terminal at Union Station, negotiate agreement on said terminal and use of right-of-way, rip a hole in the hopscotch bridge, etc. etc. etc.

    I’ll be surprised if the cars are running before 2014.

  • Honestly, I’d blame Fenty for this. The logistics of this whole thing were f’ed from the start.

    I mean, they bought the cars before the first track was laid.

  • Yeah. I put the onus on DDOT and the previous administration.

    Klein handed Gray the ability to kill this, by planning it so damn poorly.

    2013 is the new never.

    • Klein was a self righteous goober that in way over his head. Sorry, GGW fan boys, but thats the truth.

  • Can somebody please explain to me the allure of streetcars?

    • They’re just somewhat more permanent buses that white people will ride because they’re perceived as retro & slightly cooler. Bottom line is DDOT f’d up bad on this, and if you think Klein was over his head you should see the two folks who manage the streetcar program for DDOT now. I’d be shocked if these things turn their first wheel by 2014.

    • Streetcars represent a higher level of commitment to an area (unlike busses that can be pulled from a route) due to the significant investment in infrastructure. This should in turn attract serious business development. Plus they are cool! 🙂

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