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Washington - March 2010

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Washington, DC ― Streetcar Land Use Study Planned

Rail Transit Online, March 2010

The Council of the District of Columbia is planning to conduct a two-year, $2-million master land use study along 37 mi. (59.5 km) of proposed streetcar lines. The analysis will examine three blocks on either side of the rail routes and will include possible alternatives to the use of catenary to power the streetcars, as current laws prohibit any type of overhead wires in the historic center of the city.

The original streetcar system used an underground conduit for traction power pick-up accessed through a slot between the tracks. However, D.C. Planning Director Harriet Tregoning has indicated that an exemption may be sought for modern streetcars. "Those laws were created when the propulsion system was a lot more visually intrusive than it would have to be now," she told a city council committee. Several European cities have recently installed short sections of wireless tramway using various types of energy storage devices or induction pick-up.

Streetcar tracks are already being installed for two lines, a short demonstration project in Anacostia that cculd be operating within two years and another along H Street, the latter as part of the thoroughfare's reconstruction; there are no firm plans to build any additional infrastructure beyond the tracks.


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