Streetcars on Track, but Not to GU
Published: Monday, February 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 02:02
While segments of D.C.'s new streetcar system are expected to become operational by 2013, it is unlikely that routes will ever be expanded to Georgetown.
According to John Lisle, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, the ongoing project to restore 150-year-old streetcar tracks on O and P Streets in Georgetown will serve purely historic purposes.
"The tracks we have on O and P Streets can't be used again. … They're really there because of their historical value," he said. "I'd be very surprised if we tried to run a streetcar down O or P Streets like we did before."
The new tracks being installed in other parts of the city are part of a scheme to build up to eight streetcar lines with 37 miles of track. Proposed segments include a route along the H Street-Benning Road corridor in Northeast, a K Street transitway and a corridor between Adams Morgan and Congress Heights.
All of the projects currently underway use new track because it is more cost effective than rehabilitating tracks left over from D.C.'s old streetcar system, which ceased operations in 1952.
Though Georgetown will not benefit from the project, DDOT hopes that the streetcars will provide other neighborhoods without Metro stations improved access to the rest of the city.
"We want to provide more transit options for people to better connect neighborhoods, connect people to their jobs and fill in the gaps in the metro system," Lisle said.
The H Street-Benning Road corridor, which is due to be operational by summer 2013, will be the first of the new routes, although Lisle cautioned that several steps still remain in the project.
"A lot is still happening to get that lined up," he said.
Lisle added that streetcars are a useful alternative because they are less disruptive to install than underground rail networks but more permanent than buses.
"[Streetcars] have been shown to have more economic development impact than buses because they're more permanent," he said.
Lisle expressed enthusiasm about the return of streetcars to the District.
"We wish the [old] service had never stopped," he said.