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DDOT picks streetcar transitway for K Street

DDOT's final alternatives analysis for a premium transit route from Union Station to Georgetown calls for a streetcar using a dedicated transitway along K Street.

The analysis recommendations confirm earlier planning that had included K Street in DC's proposed 37-mile network, and long-time plans for a K Street Transitway.

Other alternatives that were analyzed and rejected would have followed I and M Streets, or used buses rather than streetcars.


Streetcar route. Image from DDOT.

The selected route begins on the Hopscotch Bridge as an extension of the H Street streetcar. From there it runs west along H Street, New Jersey Avenue, and K Street, until it reaches its end at Wisconsin Avenue under the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown.

From 10th Street to 21st Street NW the line runs as the K Street transitway, in dedicated lanes fully separated from cars by medians on most blocks. Although the transitway has been planned for years, DDOT did consider other options.


K Street section through downtown. Image from DDOT.

Since federal rules prohibit overhead wires in most of the L'Enfant City, DDOT's analysis included a report on wire-free propulsion. Wire free technology is improving, and seems possible for segments of up to 2.5 miles long.

Since the route from Union Station to Georgetown is a little over 3 miles long, rapid battery recharge stations may be necessary, unless the technology improves or overhead wires are allowed.

Construction is still a couple of years away, and will most likely move forward after DDOT hires a private firm to design and build its 22-mile premium transit system.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a professional transportation planner for the Arlington County Department of Transportation. He has a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Colorado, and lives a car-free lifestyle in Northwest Washington. His posts are his own opinions and do not represent the views of his employer in any way. He runs the blog BeyondDC and also contributes to the Washington Post Local Opinions blog. 

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Wow, dedicated surface transit ROW at last!

Personally, I've always liked K Street as a relatively well-functioning multiway boulevard (the access lanes were, until the L Street cycletrack, the best bike route across town, and useful for loading/drop-offs), but I'm even happier to see K as dedicated transit with parallel cycletracks.

Seems like fast battery recharging could be integrated with longer dwell time station stops, e.g., Mount Vernon Square or Farragut Square.

by Payton on Oct 29, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

This can't happen soon enough.

by Andrew on Oct 29, 2013 10:35 am • linkreport

Why can't they do a third rail instead of overhead wires? A system that uses batteries would cost so much more due to having to replace and maintain batteries.

by BK on Oct 29, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

Why does there need to be a rush hour restricted parking lane? Just make it a 24/7 parking lane with the appropriate bulb-outs and crossing nubs. Safer for pedestrians, who greatly outnumber people driving anyway.

by Michael Perkins on Oct 29, 2013 10:39 am • linkreport

@BK

Third rails are restricted access areas, from what I've seen. Therefore, 3rd rail is not feasible since they're not going to fence in the transitway. As I currently work on K St, I can tell you there are not really any amazing views that would be impacted by the more modern smaller overhead wires that are used today. The prohibition should be removed in light of today's smaller wires.

by GP Steve on Oct 29, 2013 10:46 am • linkreport

This is fun. This could lead to momentum behind removing the Whitehurst.

by drumz on Oct 29, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

@BK, you can do a third rail, but you have to be able to turn it on and off based on whether there is a vehicle covering the rail. Otherwise you have hundreds of volts DC exposed at street level where there are pedestrians crossing.

by Michael Perkins on Oct 29, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

Very dissappointed it's not the M St alignment but I'll take what I can get. I really hope they consider adding a Wisconsin ave route in the next round of long range planning.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

So they're going to have to tear up the brand-new K Street from MVS to New Jersey Ave. Nice.

by David Edmondson on Oct 29, 2013 10:54 am • linkreport

I'm very skeptical of going underneath Whitehaven. While I love the Georgetown waterfront, the majority of the people activity is on M St. Forcing people to walk up / down the big hills from K to M will discourage ridership. Also, the elevation change from K St to G'town Univ is probably too steep to climb up there to add an extension to the university.

by GP Steve on Oct 29, 2013 10:55 am • linkreport

Will buses be able to use the dedicated transitway as well? Seems like that would be a remarkable improvement in bus service in the project as well, if it happens.

by Evan on Oct 29, 2013 10:58 am • linkreport

@GP Steve

While I agree with you on M st in georgetown it's basically impossible as it's currently configured to have streetcars on M st. The place is a stalled out traffic sewer during most rush hours and weekends. Short of banning car traffic and turning it into a pedestrian mall/transit way through georgetown (which I would love) it just wasn't going to happen.

by jj on Oct 29, 2013 10:59 am • linkreport

@jj

There are a few options.
1) Ban passenger cars during rush hour on M St in G'town. I'm not sure if mixed use speeds are fast enough other times so this may not be good enough.
2)Ban passenger cars always on M St in G'town.
3) Remove parking and have the street cars have their own space with passenger rail on the edges. This could be limited to have some single track dual direction and some double track segments such as stations depending on space constraints.

They should do this right and not cement a decision that will last decades to make the streetcar inferior to other surface transportation.

by GP Steve on Oct 29, 2013 11:05 am • linkreport

My pipe dream plan would be to remove the whitehurst and basically make it impossible/annoying to get from the Key Bridge to M street.

Instead, Cars either turn left or right onto canal/K respectively and travel on while the streetcar/buses cruise up and down an M street in Georgetown that no has wonderfully wider sidewalks

by drumz on Oct 29, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Ah something to look forward to. Very far forward...although I'm glad to hear about the dedicated lanes. I fail to see the benefit of streetcars unless they have dedicated lanes.

Also, I'm wondering what the appetite for this/patience for the project will really be. Many people argued that building the H St line was more about revitalizing the corridor than actually building a functional streetcar system. K St isn't in need of the same sort of revitalization. When the going gets tough--which it will with inevitable cost overruns, years-long delays--will the city and residents see the same value in the K St line? I don't know the answer.

by MJ on Oct 29, 2013 11:11 am • linkreport

Yeah, people are going to have to cross K street, the same as they always have. I cannot see a mass of people crossing a 750 volt third rail safely.

Further I dont know if cars and bikes can cross a third rail safely either. Rubber tires are great though.

by Richard on Oct 29, 2013 11:12 am • linkreport

With this streetcar line alignment ending at Wisconsin Avenue, I'm assuming that would eliminate any possibility of extending the line northward or to the Georgetown University campus since the grade on the Wisconsin Avenue hill north of K/Water Street is likely too steep for streetcars.

Otherwise, a dedicated transitway on K Street is great. Utilizing the Washington Circle underpass is great, except for the difficulty of placing a streetcar station there. If a station could be sited at Washington Circle somehow, it'd only one block from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metrorail station. It's not the end of the world, but the intermodal transfer limitations at Washington Circle are unfortunate nonetheless.

Also, I would probably have two stations between Union Station and Mount Vernon Square instead of having only one. I'd shift the Third Street/Fourth Street station to Fifth Street and add another one at New Jersey Avenue & H Street. But I'm sure there are good reasons for having only one station in the heart of Mount Vernon Triangle.

by Michael_G on Oct 29, 2013 11:13 am • linkreport

Good to see a route chosen, but only 1.16 miles of the recommended 3.41 mile Alternative 1 route will be in the K St transitway. Would be desirable to see a more aggressive approach with more of the route in transitways or dedicated lanes to reduce the chances of the streetcars getting stuck in traffic gridlock. H St is pretty wide; why not a transitway from Hopscotch bridge to the turn onto NJ Avenue?

There is also a longish gap in stops between the Hopscotch bridge and Station 7 at 4th & 3rd Sts at K St.

by AlanF on Oct 29, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

@MJ

As someone who works and takes buses on K St, I can tell you this is definitely needed. Every day during rush house, the street is packed full of cars. Whether it's streetcars or just a transitway for buses in the middle of K St, a dedicated ROW is definitely needed on K St.

by GP Steve on Oct 29, 2013 11:16 am • linkreport

Would it ever be feasible to go up Wisconsin between K and M? It's stuch a steep incline. I'd love to see the K st Streetcar end up in Rosslyn, it would be such a useful route assuming you could figure a place to put it on Key Bridge. I realize Arlington has enough streetcar projects at the moment but this would be relatively little track within the county and it could replace a lot of car trips across the bridge.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

Agreed there needs to be another station at H and NorthCap or New Jersey to connect to all the buses and the new Walmart, not to mention to avoid the steep walk up the Hopscotch Bridge.

Has anyone read the full report yet? What reasons were given against a routing on M Street through Georgetown?

by xmal on Oct 29, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

Re: Steepeness of streets.

The limitation is likely the length and articulation of the vehicles. PCC Streetcars used to rumble up and down streets as steep as Wisconsin Ave in Pittsburgh successfully for decades. Throwing down sand on the rails, plowed streets and the weight of the vehicle made climbing hills pretty easy.
However PCC streetcars aren't nearly as long as the modern articulated Skoda vehicles DDOT will use, so while actually climbing the hill would probably be a breeze, the transition between the flat of K Street/ Water Street to the grade of Wisconsin Ave would be very difficult.

by Chris on Oct 29, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

Anyone else think that the two stations near Farragut are two close together? 20th street and 18th street.

by Richard on Oct 29, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Super excited for this, and it will (of course) tremendously increase the utility of the H St - Benning line. As for costs etc - not really an issue. The 6 year budget has over $400 million allocated for this project and in case you haven't heard, DC is pretty flush right now. This will continue the theme of higher tax valuations, higher city revenues, increased quality of line, more people living without cars and improving the pedestrian experience in the District. Win win win!

by h st ll on Oct 29, 2013 11:31 am • linkreport

@Richard - Agreed. That in addition to the fact that the stations at 25th/26th and 19th/20th Sts are too far from the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, in my opinion (although I acknowledge the logistical problems with putting a station under Washington Circle).

I'm also curious to see (concerned about) how the streetcar transitions from being in the far left lane between 9th and 10th Sts and then gets to the far right lane around Mt. Vernon Square. I hate to be pessimistic, but I think this project is really only worthwhile between 20th and 10th. Otherwise, you're just an expensive (but novel) high capacity bus sitting in traffic.

by 7r3y3r on Oct 29, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

Historically, streetcars had gone across P Street from Dupont over to Georgetown University. That may be preferred instead of trying to get streetcars up Wisconsin Avenue. Though, there may be just as much opposition from homeowners who just had their streets torn up for years as DDOT rebuilt the cobblestone streets.

by Adam L on Oct 29, 2013 11:37 am • linkreport

There is no view to protect on K street. The wires for streetcars are pencil thin these days. I suggest an experiment of throwing up some temporary poles and the streetcar wire and see what viewshed damage it actually causes.

by NikolasM on Oct 29, 2013 11:42 am • linkreport

It looks like there isn't going to be a crossover to connect with the H st line at the bridge, I would think they would make that possible (or am I misreading the plans?). The tunnel under Washington Circle was a good choice, traffic around there is brutal.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 11:43 am • linkreport

Random thought: if the streetcar stop is built under the Whitehurst Freeway on K street and the Blue Line re-route is built through Georgetown under M St with a station there, could a pedestrian tunnel be built from the Georgetown streetcar stop to the Georgetown Metro station mezzanine? There are long term benefits in keeping the E-W streetcar line on different streets from Georgetown to NJ Ave from the proposed Blue Line re-route. Less disruptive to the streetcar line if the Blue Line re-route is ever built for one.

by AlanF on Oct 29, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

The station at 25th & 26th looks a bit awkward and out of the way. The proposed alignment runs right under Washington Circle, why not build a semi-underground station under the bridge?

It wouldn't be super expensive. They'd need to excavate a platform on either side of the roadway and put in stairs/elevators.

by Bill on Oct 29, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

20th is probably a 7 minute walk from Foggy Bottom, that's a minor hassle but doable. I doubt a lot of people are getting on at 25th just to go to K and 31st, not that it woudl be a fun trip on foot.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

So what if there's not a convenient transfer from the street car to Foggy Bottom station? Farragut West station is next to two (2) proposed street car stations and is only one stop away.

by patrick on Oct 29, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Although we would all love to see dedicated lanes all over the place, I urge everyone to remember that any attempt to remove auto lanes and set them aside for transit on arterial streets will generate so much vocal opposition that Jack Evans will be promising to stand in front the bulldozers himself in 10 seconds flat. If any approach has a chance of succeeding, it is the incremental one - build now, then try to reassign the lanes later.

@GP Steve

Also, the elevation change from K St to G'town Univ is probably too steep to climb up there to add an extension to the university.

It would be possible, but only if you removed the Whitehurst. The Whitehurst is at its lowest point when it ducks under the Key Bridge - you could have a ramp up from Water Street level that would connect up to Canal Road at the higher grade and then continue to the University.

@BTA

Would it ever be feasible to go up Wisconsin between K and M? It's stuch a steep incline. I'd love to see the K st Streetcar end up in Rosslyn, it would be such a useful route assuming you could figure a place to put it on Key Bridge. I realize Arlington has enough streetcar projects at the moment but this would be relatively little track within the county and it could replace a lot of car trips across the bridge.

At present, the requirement that the streetcar not use overhead wires makes the grade unmanageable. The traction issues are difficult but not insurmountable, as Chris alluded to. In 5 or 10 years, battery and other traction power technology should advance to the point where the grade change is no longer prohibitive.

My understanding is that Key Bridge is unable to support a streetcar absent a complete overhaul. Something about the roadbed not being able to handle buried rails.

@Adam L

Historically, streetcars had gone across P Street from Dupont over to Georgetown University. That may be preferred instead of trying to get streetcars up Wisconsin Avenue. Though, there may be just as much opposition from homeowners who just had their streets torn up for years as DDOT rebuilt the cobblestone streets.

As has been made abundantly clear during the battles of rerouting the University's GUTS bus, the powers-that-be in Georgetown consider P Street (and O, N, etc.) to be 'residential' streets and therefore inappropriate for noisy, obtrusive mass transit. The only reason the G2 continues to run there is because WMATA answers to no one, not even CAG and ANC2E.

@AlanF

Random thought: if the streetcar stop is built under the Whitehurst Freeway on K street and the Blue Line re-route is built through Georgetown under M St with a station there, could a pedestrian tunnel be built from the Georgetown streetcar stop to the Georgetown Metro station mezzanine? There are long term benefits in keeping the E-W streetcar line on different streets from Georgetown to NJ Ave from the proposed Blue Line re-route. Less disruptive to the streetcar line if the Blue Line re-route is ever built for one.

You're not alone in thinking about that possibility. It shouldn't be impossible, although it would be very expensive.

by Dizzy on Oct 29, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

Regarding the Georgetown terminus:

1) I hope the K Street route leads to momentum to remove the Whitehurst freeway,
2) There is admittedly more activity on M Street but K Street has Washington Harbor, the waterfront park, and the heating plant is close by (with another public park planned)
3) A K Street alignment might make it easier for passengers to walk across the K Bridge to Rosslyn, providing an alternative to metro-rail and improving regional connectivity.

by 202_cyclist on Oct 29, 2013 12:33 pm • linkreport

@202_cyclist

Bad News: The K/Water Street to Key Bridge connection is absolutely abysmal

Good News: Remedying this is high on the Georgetown BID's list of improvements

Bad News: Accomplishing this would entail extensive cooperation from the National Park Service. The frogurt is also cursed.

by Dizzy on Oct 29, 2013 12:37 pm • linkreport

MJ:
"Also, I'm wondering what the appetite for this/patience for the project will really be. Many people argued that building the H St line was more about revitalizing the corridor than actually building a functional streetcar system. K St isn't in need of the same sort of revitalization."

One of the benefits is that this will help reduce crowding and capacity issues on the Orange/Blue and Red lines.

True, K Street is mostly built out but if the Height Act is relaxed, I would like to see the right to build taller buildings on K Street auctioned and the revenue used to finance this streetcar alignment. This could both encourage more impressive buildings on this important street, increase density along the route, and provide revenue to build this transit investment.

by 202_cyclist on Oct 29, 2013 12:40 pm • linkreport

They really should have a stop on H Street after it goes off of the bridge going westbound. A stop should be at North Capitol & H Streets to allow users to transfer between buses that travel along North Capitol.

Will buses be able to use the lane on K Street ? Otherwise you aren't really fixing the problems of K Street, as the buses will most likely run more often over the coarse of 24 hours and be stuck in the regular car lanes vs the streetcar if its anything like the Circulator will end at 9pm

by kk on Oct 29, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

God forbid someone disabled or a senior citizen tries to take this to Georgetown and has to climb that hill.

When this is eventually done will there still be a Cicrulator if so that might ease the problem of the hill?

by kk on Oct 29, 2013 12:50 pm • linkreport

Unless I'm radically mistaken. Buses will use the transitway and will likely do so before we actually see streetcars running up and down.

by drumz on Oct 29, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

I don't see how the same streetcars could run on both wires and a battery portion unless the cars had both systems installed. (Battery power is certainly the way to go though).

by Tom Coumaris on Oct 29, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

I always kinda considered the circulators DC's test run for the streetcars lines. They should still be able to run the ciruclators along there in theory though. Dedicated transit lanes should be able to handle dozens of vehicles an hour. Maybe they could stagger the stops along K to provide better coverage.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

In my talks with DDOT reps at the public meetings, two things came up that might clear up a few issues or at least make the plan seem more sensible.

@drumz: It seems that DDOT's priority along the M Street corridor in Georgetown is to improve pedestrian conditions. The DDOT reps said that if any width came available on M Street from a road diet or removing parking it'd probably go towards widening the sidewalks, which in my opinion really makes a lot of sense. Dedicated transit ROW is at best second on the list of priorities.

@7r3y3r: They expect most of the streetcar-Metro transfers west of the Convention Center to happen at Farragut, potentially as part of an improved Farragut Crossing. Most of the people getting off near Foggy Bottom are expected to be going to the GW campus, not Metro, so the convenience of that transfer isn't as important as decreasing east-west travel time.

by Peter K on Oct 29, 2013 1:10 pm • linkreport

Instead of demolishing the Whitehurst Freeway, would it be feasible to use the structure as an exclusive transitway for streetcar and bus service between Foggy Bottom and Rosslyn via Georgetown? Maybe even route the streetcars onto the Whitehurst Freeway and have them turn right onto Wisconsin Ave via a ramp to avoid the steep incline of Wisconsin between the C&O Canal bridge and Water Street.

Pedestrian connections to M Street from the elevated highway would obviously have to be well-designed -- otherwise the transitway would be isolated and useless.

http://binged.it/1chnuFL

by Tyler on Oct 29, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

Streetcars should be able to go up the Wisconsin hill form K/Water St to M - old Skodas that still ply the streets of L'viv Ukraine navigate a pretty steep hill in Lichaviska cemetery and they make the climb pretty easy even in a two-car tandem setup.
If they allow overhead wires from Wisconsin along K Street till 9th street NW then there should be ample (pun intended) time for a battery to charge to take them up the hill till overhead wires can be reintroduced at around the Social Safeway on Wisconsin & 34th.
Tommy Wells - please make this a District Priority Project when you are elected mayor.

by andy2 on Oct 29, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

@andy2

I'm afraid Tommy Wells would need to be elected District Dictator in order to make that happen. You've seen what the reaction was to installing a painted median in Glover Park - imagine what the reaction would be to putting a streetcar on Wisconsin.

by Dizzy on Oct 29, 2013 2:10 pm • linkreport

Peter K,

Re-reading my original comment I see there is a typo where I typed "no" instead of "now" about sidewalks.

Anyway, yes. Georgetown needs wider sidewalks. You could get them by making M transit only (and providing an exception for delivery vehicles if there is not other access for businesses.

The reason you remove the whitehurst is so that you could still have access to the Wisconsin corridor from the Key Bridge.

by drumz on Oct 29, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

I like how multiple people here say that 3rd rail power is impossible at grade because of pedestrians...

.....ignoring that DC streetcars used to have 3rd rail power.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground-level_power_supply

by JJJJ on Oct 29, 2013 2:34 pm • linkreport

A few thoughts:
-There is WAY too much shared lane operation
-There is good station spacing, meaning that it's not stopping every other block.
-It's good that much of it is median aligned, to keep the streetcar away from double-parked cars on the curb
-Some of the stations look like they'll be very hard to access for pedestrians(26th & K)
-Some sections show 4' bike lanes, which is pitifully small for a bike lane

by TransitSnob on Oct 29, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

Stoked for my great grandchildren!

by Kev29 on Oct 29, 2013 2:50 pm • linkreport

Looks like we are going to need a funicular.

by Greenish on Oct 29, 2013 2:53 pm • linkreport

M st and lower Wisconsin in Georgetown make a good case for having underground structured parking in the area and removing street parking on the downtown blocks. Will never happen though.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

My understanding is that the streetcar cannot scale the grade up to M Street, so lower K Street will be the terminus. Regarding extending up Wisconsin, the 37-mile system plan shows the line ending in Georgetown, so this recommendation is consistent with earlier planning.

by Jonathan P on Oct 29, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Bad behavior or poor planning by drivers attempting to get across K St frequently brings rush hour gridlock, i.e., traffic immobilized in all directions through three stoplight sequences.

Short of having cops on all corners to ticket scofflaws, the streetcars are going to need really big cowcatchers if they are not to get as stuck as the buses are now.

by Fearing Gridlock on Oct 29, 2013 3:24 pm • linkreport

Absolutely, Fearing Gridlock. In my mind, the biggest cause of gridlock on K Street is not people traversing K itself, but cars headed to the 14th Street Bridge, often on the streets crossing K.

by Dizzy on Oct 29, 2013 3:30 pm • linkreport

I'm sure that's point of having the dedicated transitway between 10th to 21st. I do think that is definitely warranted and DDOT deserves credit for supporting something that won't make everyone happy.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

And we can't blame it all on VA people, Wisconsin, Connecticut, 16th, NY, etc are all traffic sewers at rush hour.

by BTA on Oct 29, 2013 3:40 pm • linkreport

@BTA:

That's right, Maryland people are just as much - if not even more - to blame as Virginians are.

by MetroDerp on Oct 29, 2013 4:38 pm • linkreport

Walkable third rails aren't exactly a novel concept. I was in Reims, France last summer and rode their tramway... and walked along the wireless track in the city center. There's a third rail which inductively powers the trams through the segments without wires. Plus lots of the tracks are on grass, or on pedestrian malls. It's pretty great.

Though, that's not to say I support the idea. I'd much rather have overhead wires, which can pretty simply be made to integrate with the streetscape, especially as there will be wide medians with trees and light posts.

by ImThat1Guy on Oct 29, 2013 4:51 pm • linkreport

Also I'm loving that in much of the route they're adding sidewalks (except between 12th and 10th, which have faintly ridiculously wide sidewalks) and keeping dedicated lanes, but honestly I'd rather have a bit of solid separation between the transitway and travel lanes, even if it means a foot or two of sidewalk is lost on each side.

by ImThat1Guy on Oct 29, 2013 4:59 pm • linkreport

Though the Mt. Vernon Square - NJ Ave segment should really face the same treatment as the 12th-10th, but instead there'll be non-dedicated lanes and new parking :(. Also the currently empty triangle formed by 2nd NW, H, and NJ Ave could really be reworked... maybe add some lanes to 2nd, and make NJ Ave a dedicated transitway for that block? Better than a single shared lane plus parking.

(sorry mods for all the consecutive comments)

by ImThat1Guy on Oct 29, 2013 5:10 pm • linkreport

One more comment and then I'll go away (sorry!):

The tracks should really be on an inner-lane alignment over the Hopscotch Bridge. It would provide for easier connection to Union Station if you're coming from the H/Benning corridor, and easier track connection with said corridor. Something like this, (looking east) with dedicated lanes and 3 travel lanes would be best. That station pictured would be twice the *length* of normal stations, one half for westward trains, one for eastward. I made the south median slightly wider to facilitate crossing to Union Station, however, it might make more sense to make the platform wider instead, facilitating east/west pedestrian movement, and have people cross further west. Personally, I'd love to slim down the road to 2 lanes, but that's unrealistic considering it's the only crossing between Massachusetts Avenue (south of the station) and L street.

by ImThat1Guy on Oct 29, 2013 6:01 pm • linkreport

Normally streetcars are a complete rip-off when compared to buses but in this rare case saying goodbye to those crazy service lanes K Street has been saddled with for who knows how long is a great idea. Try not to spend another billion dollars on it though.

by AndrewJ on Oct 30, 2013 7:17 am • linkreport

If you got rid of the Whitehurst, how long would the ramps have to be to negotiate the elevation difference between Key Bridge and Water/K Streets? A proposal was floated years back to build a monstrous corkscrew ramp but I've never seen a more conventional solution proposed.

by jimble on Oct 30, 2013 9:21 am • linkreport

+1 to Michael Perkins comment: "Why does there need to be a rush hour restricted parking lane? Just make it a 24/7 parking lane with the appropriate bulb-outs and crossing nubs. Safer for pedestrians, who greatly outnumber people driving anyway."

cutting out two lanes to cross K St will also help signal timing for thru-travel a bit, and one less lane for walkers to traverse to get to tram loading platform

by darren on Oct 30, 2013 9:33 am • linkreport

Is 2 lanes enough space on the transitway? Seems for both streetcar and buses it wont be enough space.

by poncho on Oct 30, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

The proposed reconfiguration of K Street would be a huge improvement. I could see this initial route connecting Georgetown with K Street, the convention center, Union Station, the emerging H Street corridor as a massively popular way to get around.
Two big issues Dan, and other GGW writers are missing though... First, the streetcars DC is building this system around are based on designs and technology that are now 25 years old (those cars DC can't seem to stop testing - they were ordered in 2003, based a design from 1980s!). These older streetcars can only handle so many people, so it is likely the new streetcar system will soon be at capacity again, just like the popular DC Circulator is now. Modern streetcars using newer designs would solve the problem. Second, DDOT's track record with the initial H Street section should scare everyone. Taking forever to rebuild H Street (still working on it!) inconvenienced many people in that area of the city - but that was nothing compared to potential impacts we will see when K Street is rebuilt. If DDOT is going to pull this off they need to go out and recruit the A Team.

by Where Is My Streetcar? on Oct 30, 2013 2:29 pm • linkreport

(those cars DC can't seem to stop testing - they were ordered in 2003, based a design from 1980s!

You don't know what you're talking about. The streetcars DC has were introduced by that company in 2002. So this is basically the same as saying that a Ford Fiesta is based on a design from 1908 because Ford made the Model T as well.

by MLD on Oct 30, 2013 3:36 pm • linkreport

Streetcars should serve the front of Union Station and not the back end making transfer to Metrorail and RRs more convenient.
As mentioned there are now in street 3rd rail systems in Europe such as Bordeaux activated only when a tram is above that section.
K St. line should turn onto Penna Ave and enter Georgetown on M as previous. Maybe terminate at old carbarn at Key Bridge.
Line could be extended to Cabin John but build a Large parking garage there off Cabin John Pkwy so autos can park and pax can transfer to LRT into town instead of driving.
Make travel sensible and convenient and they will ride - that rules out buses.

by George B. on Oct 30, 2013 9:06 pm • linkreport

[Cross-posted comment]

Link glitch on "Alternative 1 Streetcar" map - s/b :

http://www.unionstationtogeorgetown.com/images/pdfs/AA%20Report/5_Ch%204-Description%20of%20Final%20Alternatives.pdf#page=7

(near bottom). Or you could go for the copy in the exec. summ. :

http://www.unionstationtogeorgetown.com/images/pdfs/AA%20Report/1_Cover_TOC_Executive%20Summary.pdf#page=14

by Ted K. on Oct 31, 2013 5:54 am • linkreport

Running the streetcar in Georgetown on K rather than M will in time shift the commercial center to K while M chokes in traffic. It would be nice to remove the canopy (Whitehurst Freeway) that currently keeps K in Georgetown shrouded in shadow. Continuing the streetcar across Key Bridge would be wonderful though. I'm excited about this city wide east-west corridor in general. The valid points people raise, especially the lack of dedicated streetcar lanes for much of the corridor length, are things that can be adjusted in time. But for now, start building.

by Jimg on Oct 31, 2013 11:03 am • linkreport

Re: Wisconsin incline, @alex_block and I were kicking around the notion of having the K Street car go into a tunnel under Wisconsin. That mitigates the grade, and creates a dedicated ROW under the most congested bit -- which can surface at Glover Park where Wisconsin widens to 4+ lanes. That way, a Wisconsin Ave. car has a dedicated ROW from Friendship Heights all the way to Union Station. It'll be like the MBTA Green Line.

Sure, it'll cost a fortune, but everything in Georgetown does!

by Payton Chung on Oct 31, 2013 1:02 pm • linkreport

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