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Streetcar timing, funding, spacing, bidding

DDOT officials answered questions and provided more information about DC's streetcar plans at last night's Columbia Heights streetcar meeting.


DDOT’s model streetcar vehicle, on display at the Columbia Heights meeting. Photo by BeyondDC.

What we already know:

  • DDOT is planning 37 miles of service, in 8 lines.
  • 7-10 years to construct the system.
  • Three phases of planning and construction.
  • Estimated cost: $1.5 billion (compared to $5.1 billion for the Silver line).
  • They're looking at something like the hybrid solution for the overhead wire issue.
New info:
  • I asked for a clarification about what that 7-10 year timeline really means. I had assumed it meant 7-10 years of construction after planning is finished and funding is in hand. That was an incorrect assumption. DDOT says the 7-10 year number includes planning, and starts today. When they say they want to have the full system in place in 7-10 years, they mean by 2016-2019. That's an incredible commitment, and would be an amazing achievement if they can do it.
  • So far the Anacostia and H Street lines have been paid for using DDOT money. To build such a large system in such a short timeframe, the city will likely have to consider additional funding mechanisms. They are considering several possibilities, from tax-increment financing to parking fees to a Federal New Starts application.
  • In order to open the door to Federal funding, DDOT is going to conduct a NEPA review. Unfortunately the existing K Street review (which is being fast-tracked to increase its likelihood of receiving a TIGER grant) doesn't cover streetcars.
  • DDOT intends to plan and build the three phases as "projects", rather than each corridor individually. This means that they'll do a NEPA review and award a construction contract for each phase as a whole, rather than line-by-line.
  • When it comes time to award contracts, the city intends to award a single contract to design, build, operate and maintain each phase. This allows for more rapid planning/construction. I neglected to ask about bidding or potential contract awardees, but presumably WMATA would be a prime candidate.
  • They plan to have streetcar stops every 4-5 blocks, rather than every 2 blocks. This means that operationally the streetcars will be like an express bus rather than a local bus.
  • Streetcar stops themselves will be raised slightly to make ingress/egress easier, but won't have full length platforms. They may or may not have platform strips.
  • The LRVs themselves can be coupled into trains, but DDOT doesn't plan on doing so very often, and isn't designing stations with multi-car trains in mind.
  • Potential coordination issues with Arlington over the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcars, and with Maryland over the Purple Line, have not yet been seriously considered, but will be so in an upcoming WMATA interoperability study.
  • For the most part DDOT is planning to operate streetcars in mixed traffic with automobiles. However they are considering potential dedicated running ways on Rhode Island Avenue and M Street, SE, in addition to the K Street transitway. These issues will be worked out in the NEPA phase.
  • Despite some problems with traffic signal priority on the existing Georgia Avenue bus pilot project, DDOT says they are working the kinks out and expect that signal priority will play a significant role in many of these lines. That would be great.
Overall the meeting was very informative, and very optimistic. I really hope DDOT can meet its objectives here.

There are still six meetings remaining, so there are plenty of opportunities to attend and comment.

Cross-posted on 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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Great stuff.

I hope this gets some other jurisdictions in gear as well, as there are some great opportunities for cross-border operations here. Kudos to DDOT for pushing the issue.

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 10:36 am • linkreport

Wait... so are these going to be low-floor cars? How much of a difference will there be from the platforms?

by цarьchitect on Oct 27, 2009 10:44 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure these will be low floor cars, but as you can see from the model, you've only got two doors on each side in the middle of the car. That means a short 'platform' (which really doesn't have to be anything more than a high curb) will provide level boarding.

At least, that's my read.

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 10:53 am • linkreport

NEPA? TIGER? LRV?

by Jasper on Oct 27, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

NEPA - National Environmental Policy Act - that's the law that requires EIS's (Environmental Impact Statements) and EA's (Environmental Assessments) for projects built with federal money.

TIGER - The transportation arm of the stimulus package - stands for "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery." Kudos to some congressional intern for coming up with that one.

LRV - Light Rail Vehicle. Basically, the streetcar itself.

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 11:01 am • linkreport

Do these these streetcars stop at every stop, or will be there a signaling system like on a bus to request a stop?

by Erik on Oct 27, 2009 11:05 am • linkreport

I think the most thing they could do is make sure as much of the tracks are separated from traffic. Not just so much that they run on time during rush hour, but more importantly that the lines don't get jammed when some IDIOT decides its ok to double park to pick up food/dry cleaning/people/etc.

I understand that they can't make the whole system separated, but at least 50% of it?

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Oct 27, 2009 11:12 am • linkreport

Great job getting more details on this. Of course, this early in the process everything is subject to change, but at least we know the current plan.

Express stops and signal priority, but not exclusive right-of-way (with perhaps a few exceptions) -- as long as nothing goes wrong, streetcars should move a bit more quickly than buses.

I'm still concerned about reliability, though. What happens when a car breaks down in the streetcar lane? Or someone decides to use it for some "quick" unloading? Unlike a bus, the streetcar can't pass it in another lane.

I'd rather see exclusive or semi-exclusive right-of-way (e.g. shared with buses and taxis, reserved during peak hours, etc.). I guess my actual expectation was to have the streetcar in exclusive lanes in the middle of the road, like Boston's Green Line.

by Gavin Baker on Oct 27, 2009 11:14 am • linkreport

ADA will require level boarding and wheelchair ramps on an entirely new system (there's nothing being grandfathered in).

by Simon on Oct 27, 2009 11:17 am • linkreport

I think people are far less likely to double park in a streetcar lane. Reason being, they know the streetcar can't go anyplace else. They also know that in the event of a collision, they lose.

I'd prefer exclusive and semi-exclusive rights of way wherever possible, but that's not going to be possible everywhere. That's no reason to derail (pardon!) the project.

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 11:18 am • linkreport

Alex B., right: better something than nothing. If it ends up being a problem like I'm afraid it may be, you can convert the right-of-way later.

by Gavin Baker on Oct 27, 2009 11:26 am • linkreport

DDOT better get political buy-in for some steep penalty for parking on the tracks. Something like immediate tow-away and $500 fine ought to do it.

by Michael Perkins on Oct 27, 2009 11:30 am • linkreport

Cameras mounted on the front of streetcars for blocked vehicles - with a $500 penalty for parking in the right-of-way.

by цarьchitect on Oct 27, 2009 11:33 am • linkreport

ADA Compatibility:
The three vehicles already owned by DDOT are the same as the majority of the Portland Streetcar fleet.

These vehicles have three segments (each seperated by an articulation). The center segment, which has two doorsets on each side, is low floor. The floor matches the level of the sidewalk/platform. In Portland, there is a little bridge plate that quickly extends to allow for the boarding of wheelchairs.

The segments on each end of the car are a little higher and are accessed with two steps.

Portland is the best place to look to see how DC's streetcar system will likely appear and operate.

<<a rel="nofollow" href="arel="nofollow"href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Streetcar">arel="nofollow"href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Streetcar">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Streetcar
<<a rel="nofollow" href="arel="nofollow"href="http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=portland+streetcar#page=0">arel="nofollow"href="http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=portland+streetcar#page=0">Flickr photos
<<a rel="nofollow" href="arel="nofollow"href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL7QEQuRqq0">arel="nofollow"href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL7QEQuRqq0">YouTube videos

by Matt Johnson on Oct 27, 2009 11:39 am • linkreport

Sorry about those url tags.

Here are the links again, without any html:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Streetcar
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=portland+streetcar#page=0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL7QEQuRqq0

by Matt Johnson on Oct 27, 2009 11:42 am • linkreport

@цarьchitect I was thinking the exact same thing as they already have them on the street cleaners. Also, make the fine higher the second time it happens.

by Rob on Oct 27, 2009 11:51 am • linkreport

Camera-enforced $500 fine for private double-parkers is fine, but what about FedEx/PEPCO/Verizon/etc.? Towtrucks (sturdy enough to lift a FedEx package truck) is the way to go.

by Simon on Oct 27, 2009 12:02 pm • linkreport

7-10 years seems very optimistic. Much less complicated highway projects in rural areas take at least 7 years to get through the NEPA process:
http://dc.streetsblog.org/2009/10/26/gop-senators-protest-evaluating-the-climate-impacts-of-transport-projects/, federal transit funding remains weak:
http://dc.thecityfix.com/tiger-grants-nt-a-transit-panacea/

DC would be much better served by going going this alone and raising the funds themselves. But the past is prologue. Even when DC went it alone on what should prove to be a comparatively less controversial alignment, they are still 3 years delayed.

by David Daddio on Oct 27, 2009 12:07 pm • linkreport

thanks for laying this out.
will phase I be totally completed before Phase II starts up?
if the bidding process is separated, it seems likely that we could have concurrent projects, no?

how do the placement of stops get decided?
( please let their be stops close to my house)

by reflexive on Oct 27, 2009 12:33 pm • linkreport

"Cameras mounted on the front of streetcars for blocked vehicles - with a $500 penalty for parking in the right-of-way."

They will definitely need this, as well as tow trucks nearby on-call. There should also be large, clear signage that fines are issued immediately and that there is expedited towing.

While I agree that people will be less likely to double park when they see rails, some people truly do not care.

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Oct 27, 2009 12:44 pm • linkreport

If the streetcars will not travel in an exclusive right-of-way and will not have platforms with pre-payment and turnstiles, I find it difficult to see a material advantage over buses.

I know they emit less than diesel buses (but what about the new hybrids?), cost less to operate and maintain, and have a certain je ne sais qoui, contributing to their supposedly greater development and ridership potential, but I already live in a gentrifying neighborhood and ride transit. Perhaps some of the commenters can tell me how streetcars will benefit me and my neighbors in comparison to dedicated bus lanes with more frequent service? And will that benefit be worth the years of construction and billions of dollars in capital investment?

by xmal on Oct 27, 2009 12:45 pm • linkreport

Street cars need an absolute right of way. Nobody is allowed in their way. Give them a ringer to warn traffic. Cameras on front of the street cars will catch anybody in their way, and send an automatic ticket of substantial size (>$100 and points). Cameras will constantly be recording the last minute, and when street car drivers hit a button, that minute will be stored, and a ticket will follow.

by Jasper on Oct 27, 2009 12:45 pm • linkreport

Cow catchers are the obvious solution to solve the double parking issue.

Thanks for the writeup, Dan M. I planned to attend last night and got stuck at work. Did they mention what kind of frequencies they're planning?

by jcm on Oct 27, 2009 12:59 pm • linkreport

I'm sorry, but this is just incredibly stupid. For the amount of money being spent, we could double the number of circulator buses, dedicate more bus lanes and still have $ leftover for "economic development" of a more direct sort. And that would take, what, a couple months to implement?

The map of proposed routes, if you think about it, is really, really limited. What % of the city population could feasibly walk to a streetcar line and then walk to their destination? About the same number that could do so on the metro, since these routes are pretty dang redundant with the metrorail lines. That leaves huge swaths of the city in the same place they started.

I say, expand the circulator project: overlap express routes with local, get them going E/W along, say, 6 routes, target market it to the constituents that wouldn't usually use it. Market it to lenders, developers, franchisees, greens. If it's all a total failure, at least you don't have useless infrastructure everywhere. You can just as easily sell buses to eastern europe as streetcars.

by NAB on Oct 27, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

The ICC destroys the trolley museum, DC builds a new trolley system. It's poetic.

Thanks for addressing those issues, Dan. Rhode Island Avenue is a great place to give the tracks their own lane. It's the only major road I can think of that actually gets wider crossing into DC from Maryland.

by Dave Murphy on Oct 27, 2009 1:05 pm • linkreport

Looking forward to the first Escalade doubleparked on the track so that the driver can use the ATM just for a minute then WHAM!

by monkeyrotica on Oct 27, 2009 1:23 pm • linkreport

they used to have snow sweeper streetcars back in the day. I wonder if they will need those again for the new lines, or if they can do the same thing properly with the equipment they already have for the streets? Any comment on that?

by Lee Watkins on Oct 27, 2009 1:47 pm • linkreport

I love the aggressive timetable. I know that people are going to say that it can't be done, and if DDOT promises too much and can't deliver, that the public will lose faith, but this kind of optimism is definitely needed. There HAS to be a big push for this kind of large scale proposal. Maybe it will take 15-20 years to build out, and some of the lines may be in very different places. But if we approach it with the expectation that it will take 20 years, then odds are it will actually take 40. Yes there will be obstacles (such as the overhead wire issue), and problems (any number of unforeseen things), but that is precisely why this plan must be tackled head-on, full-force.

by kinverson on Oct 27, 2009 1:51 pm • linkreport

Headways
According to DDOT, the projected service frequency is 7-10 minutes, but is subject to change as studies move forward.

by Matt Johnson on Oct 27, 2009 1:51 pm • linkreport

now would be the time to update the city code to add heavy fines for blocking or hitting a streetcar...

by Lee Watkins on Oct 27, 2009 1:51 pm • linkreport

7-10 minute headways on each line? Or on each section of track?

Any way you want to craft services on those tracks, there are several spots with interlined portions of track that would see substantially shorter headways...

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 1:57 pm • linkreport

First-time poster, long-time reader. Thanks for a great site.

Anybody have any insight on the design-build contracting proposition? DC has some experience with this process now, e.g. the stadium and the convention center. Will it be to the city's (by which I mean all of our) advantage to do transport projects this way?
The timeline is wonderful - will we get infrastructure that lasts for an appropriately long useful life?

by pinkshirt on Oct 27, 2009 2:11 pm • linkreport

I don't know the layout of the cities services very well but it would make sense for new transit to not follow another line of transits established route. Someone said these tram lines cover the same territory as the metro.

I honestly don't see car drivers in the city _not_ blocking the tram lane if it's left open and up to their 'best behaviour'. I agree it should be $500 fine and 2 points on their license.

by James on Oct 27, 2009 2:51 pm • linkreport

While I think a streetcar system in DC would be valuable, I think it is pretty disingenuous to say its a 1.5 billion dollar project, while comparing it to the Silver line cost in an effort to give it some fiscal credibility or value.

This street car thing is going to cost more, much more than the 1.5 billion the junior interns down at DDOT are discussing. All public works, infrastructure and transportation projects all exceed their "initial" estimates by a minimum of ~50%. Back in 2002, when the environmental assesments were being completed, the Silver Line was a 2.6 billion dollar project. It has literally doubled since.

The ridiculous stadium, again doubled in cost in only 24 months.

Mixing bowl, Wilson Bridge...I could go on for hours.

If the street car thing happens, it will be much closer to 3 billion in cost than it will be to 1.5.

by nookie on Oct 27, 2009 2:53 pm • linkreport

Parking on streetcar tracks is not really a problem in other places, so I don't expect it would be here.

Forget big parking fines and towing for vehicles parked on street car tracks. Just give the trains big bumpers and shove those miscreants' cars out of the way. And change the liability laws so that the idiot that left the car there is financially liable for all damage done when a streetcar moves the vehicle. After having a car pushed into a fire hydrant a few times, even lunkheads that collect dozens of speed camera tickets will learn.

by Stanton Park on Oct 27, 2009 3:01 pm • linkreport

Pittsburgh's T system has been running streetcars for 25 years, and I have never heard of a major delay caused by someone parking on the tracks.

Still, if you park on the streetcar tracks and then leave your vehicle, the city should do the same thing that it does to the occassional nutjobs who lay down in the middle of the street -- arrest them for creating a public disturbance.

by tom veil on Oct 27, 2009 3:25 pm • linkreport

So what happens if there is an accident at an intersection it could be bus/car car/car streetcar/bus streetcar/car bus/bus or if a streetcar were to derail; the streetcar line would be disabled until everything is moved and investigation is over at the scene with a bus you could travel onto another nearby street or something what are the plans about stuff like that.

I know it might not happen that often but we need to look at all things the best expectations and the extreme worst case scenario and be able to provide solutions to anything that can happen.

Streetcars might not have problems with people driving in lanes; but there will be problems with intersections and the occasional person who wants to commit suicide by jumping infront of a train.

Fines should be way more than $500 i say start at $5000 for all types of fines in general any amount a person could pay is not enough to stop them from doing whatever.

I say the amount of blocks between stops should differ between areas; in some places we have very short blocks and in others we have blocks that should be broken into 2 or 3 blocks.

The stops should be based upon distance in feet or yards between stations not blocks because it will ultimately have some stations closer together than others. Take many of the major streets in some portions the blocks are only a few feet and others there the equivalent of 2 or 3 blocks.

Any areas with structures such as tunnels/bridges/highways/hills should not be based on any number of blocks, they should be based on the safety of people getting on and off the train ( if there is a busy highway/road or a big hill or drop there should be stops at both ends regardless of distance to provide a safer environment to people.

by Kk on Oct 27, 2009 3:25 pm • linkreport

KK: it's not that big a deal. The solution would be exactly the same as what happens if a bus gets into an accident and is undrivable: the trolley gets towed away and the trolleys behind it continue providing service.

by tom veil on Oct 27, 2009 3:33 pm • linkreport

Why are there doors on the left side of the streetcar?

by Tim on Oct 27, 2009 3:44 pm • linkreport

"This street car thing is going to cost more, much more than the 1.5 billion...All public works, infrastructure and transportation projects all exceed their "initial" estimates by a minimum of ~50%"

This is simply not true. Many rail lines/systems have come in well under estimates. I'm not as well versed in highway or 'other infrastructure' as in rail, but I know that projects routinely come in under budget. Of course projects of any type can wildly exceed their budget, but this is in many cases the result of a changing of the project, in other words, there have been additions/alterations (some politically motivated) that increased the final cost.

The recent financial crisis has thrown many projects into budgetary disarray, but to say that ALL projects ALWAYS exceed their initial estimates by a minimum of 50% is disingenuous.

One of the reasons that cities are pursuing streetcars is that the infrastructure costs are low. The point of streetcars is that, for the most part, they use existing streets. From what I can tell from this plan, the largest single cost is the new 11th St. crossing of the Anacostia, and I believe that is being paid for separately as a road/highway project. The usual suspects in cost overruns on projects of this magnitude are bridges and tunnels. This proposal appears to have neither (other than 11th).

The three streetcars that D.C. has purchased are identical to the Portland streetcars. There is a big difference between Light Rail cars and Streetcars, both length and weight. LRT requires almost two feet of subroadbed, or whatever the concrete track base is called. This almost always requires utility relocation, which is a huge cost just by itself. In Portland, the roadbed (I'm sorry I don't know the right term) for the streetcar is eight inches thick, and because of this, no utility relocation was required. I am certain that no relocation would be required in D.C., except perhaps for those hypothetical wireless areas around the Mall.

This proposal simply does not have the potential for large cost overruns, except for the streetcars themselves, and since this is a proven design, the probability of that is quite low.

'Why are there doors on the left side of the streetcar? '

The same reason there are doors on both sides of Metro cars. The trains just change direction at the end of the line, so the right side outbound becomes the left side inbound, and vice-versa. In the old streetcar days, there were often no left-hand doors, and the streetcars had to use a loop so that the doors would be on the right side.

by kinverson on Oct 27, 2009 3:52 pm • linkreport

@Tim:
It's usually beneficial to have the flexibility to run the streetcars in both directions (i.e. driver at either end of the car). In that case, having doors on both sides allows this. Also, the D.C. cars will be existing models of streetcars instead of custom builds. Nearly all streetcar models today are bi-directional with doors on either side.

by Kidincredible on Oct 27, 2009 4:18 pm • linkreport

@Kidincredible: Ah, makes tons of sense now. I figured that you only needed doors on the left if you had an island platform.

by Tim on Oct 27, 2009 4:35 pm • linkreport

Tim:

I also believe that certain sections of lines will run in the center/left lanes, with stops placed in large medians... Therefore you would enter/exit on the left side.

by Justin from ReadysetDC on Oct 27, 2009 4:39 pm • linkreport

From the looks of the model in the photo, there are no couplers, or at least they're hidden. This reflects the design in Portland, where a skirt covers the couplers, and they're only exposed to tow disabled cars. It also makes for less damage if the front/back of the car hit something or is hit by something.

This would also fit in line with the idea that the DC system would never run coupled cars, similarly to Portland.

Any idea if this is true?

by Tim on Oct 27, 2009 4:42 pm • linkreport

DDOT needs to do some serious work on Florida Ave if its going to use it for two of the lines, with dedicated lanes, and a more strict prohibition on turns at major intersections like Rhode Island and Georgia. It's already clogged with traffic at all hours and very narrow between New York Ave and U St, but I love the idea of replacing the 90 and 92 buses with streetcars, especially with traffic light preemption. A much better option for crosstown trips to the H St Corridor and Capitol Hill than either the existing buses or Metrorail.

by Paul on Oct 27, 2009 4:46 pm • linkreport

David Daddio
7-10 years seems very optimistic. Much less complicated highway projects in rural areas take at least 7 years to get through the NEPA process:

Of course a highway project in a rural area would take longer for environmental review because you are greatly altering the environment. A streetcar project will not require as much of a review because it will be using city streets, not taking away grassland or anything like that. You don't need to do new(or maybe major) runoff studies or habitat studies.

by Rambuncle on Oct 27, 2009 4:54 pm • linkreport

kinverson,

Please name 1 rail project in around DC, heck...on the East Coast of the United States that has either come in on or below budget.

When you can't find one, the please name one transportation project in DC, or the east coast that has come in on or below budget.

by nookie on Oct 27, 2009 5:09 pm • linkreport

Rambuncle,

I've worked a lot with NEPA. There is far more involved in that what you'd think of as "environment". NEPA rolls in the entirety of the planning process including tons of social and economic factors, dozens of public meetings, engineering and alignment considerations, politicking, historical impacts, etc etc etc. This streetcar project will be one of the most complex NEPA projects ever initiated triggering literally thousands of stakeholders including different federal agencies.

by David on Oct 27, 2009 5:33 pm • linkreport

Great post on the matter:
http://www.planetizen.com/node/38721

by David Daddio on Oct 27, 2009 5:38 pm • linkreport

"Please name 1 rail project in around DC, heck...on the East Coast of the United States that has either come in on or below budget. When you can't find one, the please name one transportation project in DC, or the east coast that has come in on or below budget."

Well, you didn't say that ONLY D.C. or east coast projects ALWAYS exceed their budget, so I was going to cite some western LRT projects. But now that I know you only meant this area, then I will just start with the Ft. McHenry Tunnel. Projected at $825 million, actually cost $750 million. Look, the point that I was making is that extras are constantly added to rail projects (and other projects), whether it is street beautification, or sound mitigation, or other things that have nothing to do with the initial transportation proposal.

As far as east coast rail projects go, perhaps they are all over budget. This may be because, in general, east coast cities are more built up, property values are higher, and any construction is more expensive. Plus the fact that rail projects take so long from proposal to construction, that material and labor costs inevitably increase.

Anyway, it was not my intention to get into an argument about other projects budgetary overruns. My point was that this proposal, because it has few large, expensive elements, is less likely to have cost overruns.

by kinverson on Oct 27, 2009 7:09 pm • linkreport

Does anyone else have an issue with the plan to run the street cars up 8th Street in Capitol Hill? That street may be busier than many, but it is still largely residential. That will completely change the nature of that street, remove local parking, and bring more undesireable traffic to the neighborhood.

It's a simple case of "which one of these things is not like the other" -- 8th Street is not like any of the other proposed street care routes which tend to be super busy commercial streets. BAD IDEA!

by Local Resident on Oct 27, 2009 7:37 pm • linkreport

Local Resident:

I don't think streetcars will change the nature of that street. In fact, streetcars used to run down 8th St. You'd be restoring the historic nature of the street. It is somewhat ironic that progress-averse Capital Hill residents want to keep them away.

It will make 8th St. nicer. Fewer cars and many fewer buses.

by Horace on Oct 27, 2009 7:55 pm • linkreport

I think 8th Street is a great place for running the streetcars through Capitol Hill. It's the historic route, it'll also likely mean the elimination of most of the buses along that route - or certainly a reduction in their frequency.

The thing is that the N-S connection through the Hill is a vital one, and there really aren't any commercial routes to do it on. 8th is located just about perfectly.

by Alex B. on Oct 27, 2009 8:32 pm • linkreport

As a Capitol Hill resident, I fully support the use of 8th street and I cannot for the life of me understand the aesthetic arguments about overhead wires. No one would say that Prague, Krakow, or Vienna are less charming due to overhead wires. If anything, the streetcars add to the character of these places.

I also applaud the 4-5 block spacing for stops. That should keep people moving.

Any idea if the streetcar will be bike-friendly? It's nice to know that I can always take my bike on the bus and mostly take my bike in the metro (I've been stopped by a station manager for trying to go in at 6:30 PM on a weekday) in the event of a flat tire, etc.

by MrTa on Oct 27, 2009 9:53 pm • linkreport

Kinverson,

You are completely wrong. The Ft McHenry Tunnel was more than twice over budget. Originally slated to cost less than 400 million, like all transportation projects, it's cost skyrocketed.

http://www.dcroads.net/crossings/fort-mchenry/
"As construction progressed, the estimated cost had more than doubled to $825 million, but the project was completed under budget at $750 million"

Claiming something was less than budget, after that budget more than doubled the initial costs only a couple years before is pretty ridiculous no? It's like saying the DC Stadium came in on budget, and we all know that didn't happen.

Construction projects with large elements are the ones exactly ripe for cost over runs. Keeping your head in the ground and claiming all will be lollypops and rainbows with the cost of this thing is juvenile because as we've seen time and time again, that just isn't going to happen. This thing will cost 100% more, at a minimum when its complete.

by nookie on Oct 28, 2009 8:28 am • linkreport

These streetcars will run on rails buried so that the top of the rail is flush with the street. But there's still the slot for the oversize rim on the wheel (the part that keeps the wheel on the track). It appears to me that this slot in the roadway will be utterly lethal to bicycles, easily capturing a narrow bike wheel and flipping the bike.

by Jack on Oct 28, 2009 11:50 am • linkreport

Large numbers of streetcars and bicycles live harmoniously together in virtually every major European city, not to mention Portland and San Francisco.

by BeyondDC on Oct 28, 2009 2:27 pm • linkreport

The streetcars I saw in Europe this summer all had dedicated lanes ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bordeaux-tram-aps-near-Roustaing.jpg

Sometimes they ran 'in the median' ...

www.world-guides.com/images/bordeaux/bordeaux_tram3.jpg

Other times they ran in squares and streets closed to motor vehicles ...

www.transportxtra.com/files/3721-l.jpg

by Lance on Oct 28, 2009 3:37 pm • linkreport

streetcar crash in SF
http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/08/03/six-injured-when-historic-muni-streetcards-collide-with-suv/
bikes and rails:
http://sf.streetsblog.org/2009/07/24/eyes-on-the-street-when-bicyclists-get-derailed-by-streetcar-tracks/

once they're installed, its gonna be rough for a while. i foresee lots of crashes.
at least i'll be in the streetcar, and not in my own car. ; )

by a on Oct 28, 2009 9:43 pm • linkreport

I read the Metro section of the Washington Post today and they're calling for the lines to be completed by 2030. From what I recall reading on here, DC wanted the lines up and running at least in 10 years.

Can anyone explain the discrepancy? Thanks.

by Zac on Nov 1, 2009 11:11 pm • linkreport

Zac: Please don't post the same comment on three posts. Once is enough. I've deleted the other two except the one here (since this is the most current thread and covers streetcar timing).

by David Alpert on Nov 2, 2009 12:35 am • linkreport

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