District Department of Transportation officials announced plans this week to construct a $1.5 billion network of eight streetcar lines that will connect the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., and make the Metro more accessible for Georgetown residents.

Construction has begun on a line in Anacostia, that is scheduled to open in 2012, and tracks are being laid on H Street and Benning Road in anticipation of future service.

In all, 37 miles of track are planned. The closest line to campus would run from K Street and Wisconsin Avenue to Benning Road Metrorail station.

The streetcar lines would supplement the Metrorail, Metrobus and Circulator bus options currently available as modes of public transportation. DDOT is implementing the street cars in an effort to improve transit time and reduce crowding on public transit. Accommodation of population and employment growth are also factors.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is to reach neighborhoods that are underserved or not served at all by Metrorail or other transit,” DDOT spokesperson John Lyle said. “[Georgetown] has no Metro stop, as everybody knows, so it’s a natural corridor to put a streetcar line.”

[According to DDOT](http://ddot.dc.gov/ddot/cwp/view,a,1250,q,648119,ddotNav_GID,1746,ddotNav,|34060|,.asp), many Metrobus and Metrorail routes are operating above capacity, and congestion on two Metrorail lines will become “unmanageable” by 2013.

Lyle emphasized that there remain a number of questions that must be answered before construction on the rest of the streetcar lines can begin, including how the cars will be powered, how they will be stored and maintained, and how they will turn around.

The operator of the streetcars has not yet been determined, according to DDOT’s Web site. Three options are being considered: DDOT management, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority management or community-based management.

While the initial segments of the network would be funded with local money, DDOT plans to pursue private and federal sources of funding, according to the department’s Web site.

The SmarTrip card, currently used on other modes of public transportation in the District, would also be used on the streetcar lines, Lyle said.

Streetcars ran in the District until 1962, when the last lines shut down.

The city is attempting to make a distinction between commuter transportation and movement within and among the neighborhoods of D.C. While some lines might eventually connect to those in Maryland or Virginia, officials want the focus to be within D.C.

In addition to improving transportation options throughout the city, officials hope streetcars will spur economic growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The project will undergo a National Environmental Policy Act review next year, which will ensure its compliance with environmental standards.

DDOT officials stressed that final plans for the streetcar lines are far from complete and that they are soliciting input from city residents by holding open houses in all eight wards of the city.

While a date for completion of the final streetcar project has not been determined, it would be approximately seven years after funding for the project has been identified and final plans are established, Lyle said.

**Correction:** A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that Anacostia is in Virginia. It is in Washington, D.C.”

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