Monday, October 26, 2009

Streetcars to Columbia Heights? Meeting today!

Just saw this interesting post at Greater Greater Washington about streetcars -- it looks like DDOT is planning a number of new streetcar lines, two of which will go through Columbia Heights.

One line, part of the second phase, goes from downtown up 7th Street and Georgia Ave all the way to Takoma, while a line in the third phase goes from Brookland to the Washington Hospital Center through Columbia Heights to Adams Morgan and Woodley Park. There's also one from U Street that goes through the H Street NE corridor, which would be nice. These are long-term plans, so there's no timetable so far, but I'll be searching for more on them.

It also looks like these would be actual streetcars, rather than bus rapid transit or some other kind of vehicle. Here's what the DC Streetcar looks like (being tested in the Czech Republic) and here's the full map (pictured on the right as well). That sounds good, but I can imagine traffic tie-ups during construction too.

DDOT is holding open houses around the city, with one today at the Columbia Heights Education Campus from 7 to 8:30 pm. It's not really a meeting per se, so it seems like you can come whenever. I plan on going, looks very interesting.


  1. Wouldn't it be more useful and less invasive to go up Sherman Ave instead of Georgia? After all, there was one on that street a long time ago.

  2. will: gabe klein (head of DDOT) said at the ward 6 meeting that part of the intent of bringing back streetcars is to help drive economic development. placing them on georgia will put potential customers eyeballs in front of more businesses than a line on sherman, i'd wager.

  3. IMGoph: Yes I understand the business aspect. However, Sherman Ave is wide and was designed to be a corridor when Pleasant Plains was originally developed. Running it down Sherman Ave would be less disruptive to businesses and Howard University. Georgia Ave is already too hectic now. Right now many residents of Pleasant Plains and Howard students already walk down to Sherman to catch the 63 bus to downtown. It is an old but good route that is in the spirit of the neighborhood.

    Also what about the businesses that are trying to come into their own on 11th and Sherman?

  4. i hear you, will, but there's just more commercial space on georgia, and better chance for a positive impact there.

    the fact that georgia avenue is hectic, as you put it, is all the more reason to run streetcars there. they will help decrease congestion, because they can carry more people than buses or cars.

    DDOT has done feasibility studies on all these corridors, and i'm sure they have good reasons for choosing the routes they did. make sure you go to the meeting in your ward and ask the questions you have here to them, see if they can answer them satisfactorily.

  5. When were streetcars on Sherman? All the maps I've ever seen have them on Georgia/7th from downtown to Georgia & Alaska. (they were also on 11th St, up to 11th & monroe). Take a look at

  6. James: Actually you are correct. I was thinking of the 11street line that is the 64 bus route now. Although I still disagree that Georgia is preferred over 11th Street or Sherman Avenue. The original 11th Street line was meant to move people to downtown. There should be a line to do that again.

    There are many businesses that are developing on 11th. What about Red Rocks on 11th? Does it not exist? Unfortunately all of the Sherman examples have failed (remember the coffee shop and cafe on Sherman and Harvard?). Not to mention the little grocery store that failed and became yet another liquor store.

    Is it me or does Pleasant Plains sit in a void surrounded by Metro stops all 4 or 5 blocks away but nothing going through it. Maybe Pleasant Plains needs to have its own City Council person or least a vocal spokesperson. The ANCs in the area can't even bother to fight off the spread of liquor stores that are popping up left an right.

  7. Will, there is a Pleasant Plains Neighborhood Association:

  8. I have a selfish question: Will the streetcar decrease the value of my townhouse on Irving?

  9. no. they will raise the value - they will lower congestion and reduce noise from buses


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