The rehabilitation of O and P Streets in Georgetown, a project meant to improve the historical character of the neighborhood, is well underway, leading to transportation woes for neighbors and students alike.

The repairs, which are set to conclude in fall 2012, include the replacement of 100-year-old water mains and local water service connections, the pavement of the roadway and the restoration of streetcar tracks dating back to the 1800s.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission District 2E Chair Ron Lewis stressed that the repairs are meant to highlight the historical significance of the streetscape.

“The streets are in terrible shape, and the trolley tracks have great historic significance. This has to be done right,” he said. “They’re doing this to a high historic standard, which is great.”

John Lisle, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, said that the project was undertaken in light of community safety concerns and a widespread desire to preserve the historical integrity of the tracks.

“The condition of the roads [is] considered to be dangerous. The street is not level anymore, and it’s slick, particularly when it’s wet and if it snows. Residents wanted the roadway to be redone, and at the same time, there were some folks who were concerned about preserving the tracks,” Lisle said.

Lewis said that the rehabilitation has been painful for neighborhood stakeholders because of the disruption it has caused commuters during rush hour. He also acknowledged that it inconveniences Georgetown students because it diverts the G2 Metrobus from its normal route. The construction has also led to service cuts at several corners along O and P Streets, including the bus shelter near the front gates.

“[The contractors] are doing their best to only work on a couple of blocks at a time. But scheduling with so many interests is just very difficult. It’s a very complex project, but when it’s finished, it will look great,” Lewis said.

Maria-Theresa Sanchez (SFS ’14) said that her commute was disrupted by the construction.

“Last week it took me a lot longer than it should have. The construction has been a bit of a pain for me,” she said.

According to the DDOT website, the project is slated to cost $11.1 million.

Lewis said that the federal government will foot up to 90 percent of the project cost.

“That is a usual arrangement for projects of historical significance,” he said.

The conduit-style streetcar tracks on O and P Streets are the only remaining vestiges of this type of system in the United States. The D.C. system ceased operations in 1962.

In addition to the core repairs to the roadway, the rehabilitation will improve the streetlights and drainage system, install new crosswalks, curb ramps, tree boxes and tree rails and reinstall boxes that allow pedestrians to call police and fire departments.

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