Barry Backs Off on H Street Streetcars; Don’t Bet on Local Lines

by June 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,834 0

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT] and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

DCist reported Monday that Councilmember Marion Barry has withdrawn his opposition to finalizing the H Street NE streetcar project. The initiative, which will place trolley-like cars along the up-and-coming H Street commercial district, was put in limbo last week by Barry’s disapproval of the final $50 million contract needed to complete construction.

"DC Streetcar"

Don’t bet on streetcars for Borderstan. (Luis Gomez Photos, file photo)

Those involved with the project feared Barry’s opposition would delay a planned July 2013 inauguration of the streetcar system, and are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief at this news.

The last DC streetcar line stopped running in 1962, and their return is perhaps one of the city’s most covered public works topics in recent years. In addition to the H Street line, The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has started construction of streetcar service in Anacostia, with service expected in fall 2012.

The original streetcar system plans called for lines on 14th and U S Streets NW, with plans showing a 14th Street line that would connect to lines on K Street NW and U Street NW. However, the U Street Streetscape work underway makes no provisions for streetcars, nor does the dormant 14th Street upgrading. In other words, don’t bet the house on streetcar tracks in Borderstan any time soon.

Not to say Barry is against progress, of course. In a statement released this week, Barry defended his now-ceded stance on streetcars, saying the projects puts undue emphasis on “newcomers” and take funds from the most neglected parts of the city (including his own Ward). “I am attempting to protect the tax-payer,” Barry insisted.

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