Streetcar for Georgia Avenue? And Lots More at DDOT Public Meetings for the North-South Corridor Planning Study

by Prince Of Petworth February 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm 55 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

From DDOT:

“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is in the middle of a planning study to examine opportunities for public transportation improvements in the North-South corridor through DC. Over the next year, DDOT will be working in collaboration with the community, area businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders to identify and evaluate above-ground, high quality transit service.

The study area is focused on a 9-mile, North-South corridor that connects the Takoma/Silver Spring area to the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area. The study area extends east to west from about 14th Street on the west to approximately one-quarter mile east of Georgia Avenue.

Your involvement and feedback is essential to helping DDOT and other partnering entities plan, build and operate the best streetcar system possible. We look forward to seeing you there!

(Buzzard Point to Downtown)
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

From 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm
(Presentation at 4pm and 7pm)
DCRA- 2nd Floor Community Room
1100 4th St SW
(Downtown to Petworth)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm
(Presentation at 4pm and 7pm)
Banneker Recreation Center
2500 Georgia Ave NW
(Petworth to Silver Spring/ Takoma Park)
Thursday, February 20, 2014
From 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm
(Presentation at 4pm and 7pm)
Emery Recreation Center
5701 Georgia Ave NW
(Entire Study Area)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

From 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
901 G St NW

For more information and project updates please visit here.

Public Meeting #1 Summary is now available online!

  • I’m sorry, you want to talk about north/south connections in DC linking Silver Spring to anything and you’re not including 16th St?

    • Anon

      there’s much more development potential east of 16th st, i think that’s why the focus is like that. but 16th st should have it’s own line.

      • Yes, there’s definitely more commercial development potential east of 16th, but transit on 16th is woefully lacking. I think improving 16th St transit would be like opening a pressure release valve on DC traffic beyond the immediate 16th St area.

        In terms of catering to residents and improving retail and housing, then yes I think 14th and Georgia are great targets. If they had a clearer intent for this project it would be easier to evaluate the options, but I guess that’s what the meeting is for.

        Either way, I would love to see more north south options and the growth of commercial areas on 14th and Georgia. But I do think there needs to be a focus on cross town transit to. That is geared the most towards residents rather than commuters and would fill a huge gap.

        • gotryit

          From what I can tell, DDOT is more interested in drumming up support for streetcars, which you (and they) wouldn’t want to add to 16th street. For buses on 16th street, we’d do better with more service and a dedicated lane. Ask CM Bowser why she opposes a dedicated bus lane on 16th street.

          • Oh, I didn’t mean transit to translate directly to street cars. It would be nice to see some dedicated bus lanes.

        • Anonymous

          16th is too narrow on it’s upper portions to accommodate both street cars and regular cars/buses. Georgia Ave is very wide all the way up into MD and will also drive development to more marginal parts of DC. The 16th Street corridor does not need to be gentrified. My guess is that 16th Street will get priority rush hour bus lanes at some point.
          This is all about development.

        • Anonymous

          its not going to happen on 16th.

    • Anonymous

      16th is mostly residential.

      • Anonymous

        16th street has already maxed out capacity on the current bus system. Street car or Not, something needs to change

        • Anonymous

          actually moving people is not the point of the streetcar.
          development. thats been it’s stated goal from the beginning.

  • Anonymous

    As someone who lives between metro stations (i.e its not faster to metro to where i work downtown because the walk and i would have to transfer). I ride the s-bus line every day and without a doubt it needs its own bus lane. I think cars should welcome this becuase no longer will they have to compete with busses swerving in and out of lanes. For busses its a win because the frequency can increase without having to spend addtional $ on busses. Its true during rush hour that you might have to wait a few minutes, and a few busses might go past you that are packed, i understand that. but creating a seperated lane will make things better for very little cost. If the cars have an issue, they can take 14th or 18th or any other number of streets

  • Concerned Citizen

    Please keep these roadblocking nostalgia relics off GA Ave… The overhead wires are unsightly, They can’t swerve around double parked cars, they don’t work well in snow. It will be a true disaster that shouldn’t have even been placed on H street. There’s a reason why they ended – because buses were invented. PLEASE KEEP THEM OFF GA AVE!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Couldn’t disagree more. Bring them on!

      • Anonymous

        Pearl clutching about overhead wires. and people wonder why I think DCers (including suburbanites) are whiners.

    • Low Headways

      Why don’t we get rid of street parking? And give the streetcar dedicated lanes that jerkoffs like you can’t use?

      It’s a war on cars and I intend to win.

    • stop trolling

      Snow? When is the last time you’ve seen Georgia Avenue covered in snow? Stop concern trolling…

  • textdoc

    I thought it was a given that the streetcar was going to go along Georgia Avenue. I guess it isn’t and I need to voice my support for that route.
    Strongly disagreed with Concerned Citizen. Look at everything that the streetcar has spurred in the H Street area, and it’s not even running yet!

    • Georgia Ave neighbor

      This is subtle brilliance: “Look at everything that the streetcar has spurred in the H Street area, and it’s not even running yet!”

      Indeed. And look how the puddles created the rain.

      • stop trolling

        There is study after study showing how streetcars encourage development along their route.

        Even if you don’t believe those studies, the DC government will be assessing properties along the streetcar routes at a higher level, so the increased tax revenue will eventually pay for the streetcars. Additionally, increased property tax rates will lead to even greater vacant property tax rates (which are marked up from ordinary property tax rates), further encouraging owners to develop vacant properties or sell them. This process on H Street has led to many of the remaining vacant storefronts being sold, particularly on the east end.

        In short, your puddle/rain metaphor is inapplicable.

        • Ed. Request – “stop trolling” is not an appropriate user name please stop using it. Thank you.

    • Steve

      As far as I understand it, Georgia Ave was the original idea. However, it makes sense that they would include the surrounding area as part of the study. It would suck if they spent a year laying track and suddenly we all realize that it would have made more sense going up 14th St or some smaller street. I think it’s more about due diligence. With that being said, I really hope it ends up on Georgia Ave as well.

    • theheights

      While I agree that the streetcars are more of a gentrifier toy than a necessary transportation medium, if they’re going to be built, GA Ave. should get one. GA Ave. could be a major commercial thoroughfare and deserves some major infrastructure & development. I believe that bus rapid transit could do the trick, but if DDOT is set on building these streetcars, then at least put them in the most advantageous locations.

      • Rich

        There may be more practical places for the streetcars that also could jumpstart development–11th Street below U is wide and could serve this purpose, while serving people are not close to the Green Line. I suspect that lower 14th Street would be less practical. It would be relatively easy to jog over at some point from 11th to 14th or to georgia.

  • Georgia Ave neighbor

    This is such a foolhardy idea. The streetcars are too slow and small to be serious transit. Bus Rapid Transit would deliver significantly better service (due to branching abilities) for half the cost. Tramlines work on touristy shopping streets (e.g. New Orleans) with moderate #’s of people going short distances in both directions all day. They are terrible at commuter transit. Georgia Ave (or, even better, 13th St) could benefit from Bus Rapid Transit. But please leave the antiques in the museum!

    • gotryit

      Actually, short distance would be great to get me to the GA / Petworth metro. It would make that metro station accessible to a lot of us that can’t afford to live within close walking distance of the metro. Think of all of Petworth / Brightwood / Sixteenth Street Heights that now has one more option to get to the metro.

    • Anonymous

      Don’t forget that rapid buses are much MUCH cheaper than the streetcars

      • Anonymous

        not in the longrun.

        • Georgia Ave neighbor

          Um, definitely in the long run. Ever noticed how much work metro rails take? Imagine if the metro rails were also having cars & trucks rumble over them at every cross street. At least a bus can safely use an imperfect roadway.

          Also, in the long run, usage patterns and densities change. See: DC from 1994 to 2014. BRT is flexible, streetcars are locked in.

          • Anonymous

            have you actually researched this issue? it sounds like you have not.

      • Eric comments

        Bus Rapid Transit means providing a dedicated land just for transit. Like an elevated road with no other vehicles. Tickets would be purchased off site at a transit station, not at the fare box from the bus driver, boarding would be at a station or a platform. I can’t imagine that anyone would propose anything like that for Georgia Avenue. Bus Rapid Transit is very different from regular city buses.

    • jcm

      I guess you’ve never been outside of the US? Because tram lines work very for commuter transit all over the world. Also, streetcars are bigger than buses, so I’m not sure why you call it small.

      • JJ Mayer

        Trams are not streetcars

      • Georgia Ave neighbor

        I’ve lived in the Netherlands and I’ve taken graduate-level transportation planning. I’ve also lived in Boston, where the Green Line (tram) is everybody’s least favorite line. But hey, what do I know?

        Where trams work well, they have dedicated rights of way with few cross streets. A Georgia Ave tram wouldn’t have that. At best it would have a dedicated lane, making it an equal to Bus Rapid Transit. But that wouldn’t make it superior. And since the trams cost twice as much, that means BRT is a much better option.

        The real advantage of BRT is that you can branch the lines. So Georgia is the trunk, and there are bus lines that branch out to different side destinations (Takoma, Hospital, CoHi on the north; various downtown destinations on the south). That means one trunk route lets you get to half a dozen destinations without transfer.

        I’m not opposed to transit. In fact, I dislike streetcars because they waste so much money for so little benefit that they turn people against transit!

        • jcm

          If you’ve lived in the Netherlands then it’s surprising you would say “Tramlines … are terrible at commuter transit.” Because they work really well in for commuter transit in the Netherlands. Now you appear to be revising your opinion to trams working best with dedicated lanes, but BRT also works best with dedicated lanes (and dedicated signaling, too).

          And I’d love to see an actual study that found a 2x price differential.

        • Low Headways

          Actually, the whole point of these hearings is so that we can raise issues like the neccessity of dedicated lanes. Come and join me! Let’s insist that we make the streetcars a good option.

    • Anonymous

      While I agree with you in principle, one of the factors not being mentioned is staffing. Who is going to drive all of those new buses that we’d all like to see? No one ever mentions whether Metro could ever find enough drivers for all of them. The obvious benefit of streetcars in this light is that you can have multiple cars on a streetcar, and only need one operator.

    • Low Headways

      Not true if they have dedicated lanes. And that opens up the possibility of real light rail down the line.

    • stop trolling

      Streetcars are not “small”, they hold more passengers than a Metrobus. SMH. Do some research before you start trolling.

    • Niko

      100% agree with you. Streetcars are a gimmick in a city that hasn’t grown up with them. Everyone thinking otherwise isn’t looking for a practical solution.

  • Anonymous

    Count me on the side who thinks this is a great idea. I would love to see them use “retro” cars similar to the street cars used in San Francisco. It would help maintain some of the history of the area. The design of the cars on H street are pretty awful…

    On a side note, I hope that this helps Georgia Avenue regain some of its glory. It is the longest commercial strip in the city. However, large patches of it have fallen to ruin. We need to help revitalize this important area for the betterment of DC and the families that live nearby.

    • Chops

      There is zero chance of cute historic streetcars. And there is zero chance of Georgia Ave becoming a hot spot for tourists. It’s an area of high residential density. The shops serve local residents. The residents work downtown. We need quick, cheap, flexible transfers to Metro rail, not a long-haul tram that takes 45 minutes to get to downtown.

      • textdoc

        Anonymous wasn’t talking about making Georgia Avenue appealing for tourists; he/she was talking about it improving for the people who live along it.
        As for “the shops serve local residents””: There are many empty storefronts along Georgia Avenue. So many, in fact, that recent community beautification efforts have made a point of putting up artwork in the vacant storefronts.
        And as to the stores that aren’t vacant: In the wake of the 1968 riots, most of the stores that remained (or came) to Georgia Avenue were the ones appealing to the lowest common denominator: mini-marts (specializing in junk food, lottery tickets, and alcohol), liquor stores, check-cashing joints, etc. The area may be changing demographically, but even if it weren’t, people who live in the area deserve better-quality retail and places that are looking to serve them, not exploit them.

        • Anonymous

          Well said, agree 100%.

      • Anonymous

        zero chance? ha! the same was said of 14th street.

      • Eric comments

        A number of years ago, I would agree that H St NE or U St NW would not become a destination for tourists. Look at what happened to U St. after the metro opened. I can easily see the day when Georgia Ave and Rhode Island Ave NE become tourist destinations because they will become filled with great shops, bars and restaurants. The streetcar will only speed that development along.

  • David G.

    Streetcars only work as a viable transportation system if they have dedicated lanes. Every option but Georgia includes streets that are too narrow to accommodate dedicated lanes. Georgia Avenue all the way up to Silver Spring is the way to go!

  • JL

    I think Georgia Ave would be a great place to put the street car. It really is a central and direct route straight downtown and up to Silver Spring. It’s large and has a lot of potential.

    I think a lot of people are also forgetting that the city is probably also thinking of this being able to service all of the new development about to happen at Walter Reed. Walter Reed will add a lot of retail, housing, schools, etc…

    • textdoc

      Yeah, I thought a big part of the rationale for the original (now apparently up for debate) Georgia Avenue route proposal was having good transit that would serve the Walter Reed site.

  • Anonymous

    Can people submit public comment online?

  • C

    Well, I’d really like it if it were easier to get to the Catholic/Brookland area from the Hill – a direct bus line or something. But I don’t really trust any DC transportation projects ;)

  • Anonymous

    About 16,000 people used the S buses up/down 16th street in 2012. This was the most used route and beat out the Hst/Benning routes by a couple thousand riders. In total, 8% of all metrobus rides were taken on the S buses. In 2012 about the same number of people used the mcpherson sq metro station as rode the S buses.

    IMO, the 16th street corridor would not be a good fit for the streetcars. They are in desperate need of long-term fixed transportation and the city should consider adding a new metro line to fill the gap between Red and Green/yellow.

    • textdoc

      The tricky thing is that DDOT =/= WMATA.
      I have to say I’ve been impressed with the Circulator bus system, which is run by DDOT rather than WMATA. Not sure if the rationale has changed, but my recollection from a streetcar-related meeting a few years back is that part of the reasoning behind the streetcar routing was the same as for the Circulator routing — providing direct links between places that otherwise required transferring between Metro lines and/or weren’t served by Metrorail.

  • Confused

    This is meant to be a serious question….
    Is this really a community meeting? Why would a community meeting start at 3:30 on a weekday? Most people are working. Why don’t they have these meetings on the weekend? Or start them later and have more than one meeting? Seems like they really don’t care if people can attend or not, they just want to check the box that they had a “meeting.”

    • CommMember

      I’m guessing for seniors. Look at the time frame- from 3:30pm UNTIL 8pm, with a presentation at 4pm AND 7pm for people that work. There are also 4 meetings, if you read through the post.


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