Marion Barry Wants to Block or Slow Down the H St Streetcar

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Last week we learned that DDOT had selected a team to complete H Street/Benning Road streetcar line. Thanks to all who sent in links to the Washington Post article:

D.C. Council member Marion Barry has launched a last ditch effort to slow or derail the city’s planned street car line on H Street, arguing it’s not been well-thought out and is too expensive for the number of riders it will serve.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairwoman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation, said Barry’s resolution could delay council approval by at least 45 days. Cheh warns that could increase the price of the contract.

49 Comment

  • While I think everyone is in favor of expanded public transportation options in this city, I am bothered by the fact that all the media sources I have seen this in (dcist, WashPo, and now POP) gloss over the fact that David Catania from the council is a Vice President at the construction company that was awarded the contract to build the line. That is a SERIOUS CONFLICT ON INTEREST.

    • Just when I think it can’t get any worse.

    • What do you want the newspaper to say? They mention it. That is all you need to know to draw your own conclusion. That is why they mention it. It is a news article telling you what happened. Barry objected. Oh and Catania is involved with the company. Anybody can see the conflict of interest. End of story. Complain about it or don’t complain about it. The newspaper did its job of informing you. Its not their place to start jumping to conclusions at the end of the news article. Maybe later if a columnist wants to write an opinion. But do you really need someone to write exactly the same thing you and most are thinking.

      I would be interested to know how big this contract is in relation to the rest of MC Dean’s other business.

      • The point is, the entire article should be dedicated to whether or not Catania’s role represents a conflict of interest and the Barry story should be a sidebar. In light of current problems with ethics on the Council (two members arrested so far on different charges), any story with even the appearance of impropriety is WAY more newsworthy than Barry’s procedural move.

  • This is just a ploy to extract money for Ward 8.

  • There is a detailed history of Barry using these stalling tactics to extort (as said below) money in the budgeting process for his ward. By saying he needs to delay the project to estimate cost overruns, he causes the project to go over budget due to work stoppages.

    It is pretty disgusting politics and just more of the same from DC government. This is a slap in the face to anyone who favors DC statehood, or wishes they could, in some ways get out from under the authority of the fed govt in anyway.

    If you cant stop throwing and stealing food, DC Govt., you cant sit at the grown up table.

    • What a non-sequitor. Does any other corrupt city in America have their natural democratic rights stripped from them?

      • Thinking that the inability to run a stable local government that happens to house the nation’s capitol, and the pursuit of sovereignty are somehow mutually exclusive is why it will never happen.

      • No, but they oughtta consider it with Detroit.

        • If poor governance meant that a locality was stripped of its right to representation in a democracy, Congress would be pretty empty once you strip every House district with a scandal plagued representative and every state with a scandal plagued Senator of its vote in Congress.

  • Must be benefitting Asian businesses

    • I hear there’s a pierogi truck that parks down there, that the Mare For Life(rs) has it in for.

  • I have a better idea — How about if Marion Barry pays some of his back taxes to help fund some projects in Ward 8!

  • I’m just having a hard time getting past the intentional? pun “derail the city’s planned street car”

  • Maybe he realizes that streetcars are not all they’re cracked up to be.

    • Agreed, streetcars are nostalgia. They died because buses came along and they could operate where tracks didn’t exist… Just spending tons of money to install streetcars in this economy won’t benefit the H street corridor if you ask me… I don’t really think the city is broke with record revenues from speed cameras, raised taxes, and parking either, but spending so much on something so redundant seems that it will prove itself a failure. Remember how much money the city subsidized into the Nationals Stadium? It still really hasn’t take off… By this I am not in any way aligning with Barry’s actions or practices, nor claiming that he is a genius.

      • When is the last time you’ve been down to the Near Southeast/Stadium area? And I don’t mean that one block on half street….

      • “It still really hasn’t take off…” ——Huh?!?!?! What rock have you been living under??? That part of town is booming in development.

        • I was JUST remarking to someone about how quickly the Near Southeast development has been coming along! It’s really incredible.

      • Jack5, where have you been? There are a couple of condos that have not been built, but look at the Navy Waterfront and compare that to a few years ago. That area is completely transformed for the better.

      • They died because buses came along and they could operate where tracks didn’t exist

        No, jack5. They died because companies like GM bought up electric rail companies so they could tear out the rails, replace streetcars with buses, and push automobile sales.

        • austindc

          That’s correct. Most of the streetcar infrastructure in the country was bought and then dismantled by auto companies. New streetcars work great as viable transit options in lots of cities like Portland and Amsterdam. Other cities are benefiting from them because of their nostalgic appeal–I’m thinking of San Francisco and New Orleans.

    • HAH! Cracked…

    • Am I the only one who saw, “cracked”?

  • Sad…. The first phase was intentionally planned for an area that needs economic development while knowing the ridership would be low at first. If the first phase was planned for somewhere in Ward 2 where ridership would have been greater, Barry would have thrown a fit because it was benefiting the whities. Now, he plays this card…..Sad!

  • While I actually agree with Barry that the streetcar is not a good idea at all (he is right that buses are better and already there), this is not the time to throw a fit. The time to throw a fit was before they bought cars and laid tracks. So it seems it must be him just trying to bargain… Sad. There is nothing good in politics.

    • The buses that are already there can be re-routed and those businesses along the route will lose their customers who can’t get to them anymore.

    • Give Marion a break! He was in jail for smoking crack when the streetcar vote was taken.

    • I ride the X2 or X9 (up and down H st) twice a day, 5 days a week…and we need more transit. Quite often the double length busses just blow by the bus stops because they are already filled to the brim with riders. You people pish-poshing this project because busses already run on the same route don’t really know what you are talking about…..what a surprise.

      • Yes, I caught one of the X buses for the first time a couple weeks ago, and I was surprised by A) how long it took for one to arrive and B) how completely packed it was.

  • Isn’t the first phase also planned to run through Anacostia to better connect Ward 8 with the stadium district? If so, why not agree to cancel that segment?

    • That was originally planned to be the first segment, but it got pushed back and H St. became the first part of the streetcar project.

  • Marion Barry is a crook, he is trying to stop that to get money under the table from Catania. Why he did not stop it before they started. He needs to be send to a nursing home.

  • Riding that train, high on cocaine ….

    • When cocaine is involved, “riding the train” takes on an entirely different meaning.

  • I don’t think the streetcar system was a good idea from the beginning, but this stalling tactic does nothing to change things for the better. Finish the H St. line and let’s see how the gentrifiers’ dreams match up to economic reality. If the demand isn’t there, end the experiment.

    • I hope you’re not forgetting to take note of how the “gentrifiers’ dreams” are matching up to reality in Dupont Circle, Logan, 14th street, NOMA, Brookland, Stadium District, Mt. Vernon Triangle, Petworth and Capitol Hill. It’ll be interesting to see if these places end up safer, cleaner and more economically dynamic — which gentrifiers dream of — than they were when the long time residents ran them.

      • As long as “money taken from us by local youths in after-hours muggings” counts as economic activity, the NOMA project has been a windfall for the city’s economy.

        Plus hey, it’s somewhat safer than Trinidad…

        • You’re probably right. The high end condos, Harris Teeter, restaurants and relocation of NPR’s headquarters don’t count as economic activity.

  • Dang, it’s tough when you have to admit Marion Barry is absolutely right about an issue.

  • Despite the fact that he is perpetually reelected, I think that a lot of people overestimate Marion Barry’s political power in this day and age. If you ever watch Council proceedings on TV, it’s painfully clear that his colleagues no longer take him very seriously.

  • Fret not, once the final reclamation is complete and the old guard is thrust into PG county, Marion Barry will fade to black.

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