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Washington - June 2010

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Washington, DC ― Latest Streetcar Plan Revealed

Rail Transit Online, June 2010

Plans for a 37-mi. (59.5 km), eight-line streetcar system were formally unveiled by District Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and other city officials on May 5, the start of a four-day DC Streetcar Showcase. Centerpiece of the event was the first public display of one of three modern cars purchased by the city from Skoda-Inekon in the Czech Republic for the Anacostia demonstration line that's now under construction.

"In just two years — by this time in the spring of 2012 — streetcars will once again operate in the District of Columbia," said Fenty at the event's kick-off. "But this isn't a nostalgic trip down memory lane. The streetcar will be one of the pillars of a modern, multi-modal transportation network that will move the District forward, not backwards. We will be a leader in providing great transit choices for our residents."

Some track work has also been completed on a second line along H Street and Benning Road, and the city's fiscal year 2011 budget includes $63 million to complete the project and for the purchase of additional vehicles. The District's Department of Transportation (DDoT) has also applied for a $25-million federal Urban Circulator Grant to extend the route across the Anacostia River to the Benning Road Metro station.

Fenty also announced that the DDoT is issuing a Request for Information, seeking advice from industry experts and manufacturers on how best to design a streetcar capable of operating in the District's unique environment, which includes a ban on overhead wires in the historic center. The DDoT is committed to utilizing advanced technology that can operate a vehicle for limited distances without catenary.

The streetcar scheme was included in a report titled DC's Transit Future System Plan, that was completed last month. It outlines new, high-quality public transportation connections between neighborhoods and from residential areas to employment centers, cultural activities, shopping and recreation venues.

Washington's original streetcar network was scrapped on January 28, 1962, a decision many policymakers now regret. The new generation of streetcars will operate along in-street tracks, at grade level and mixed with automobile traffic, although reserved trackways will be used where available.

The eight planned routes will be built in at least three phases over a number of years and would serve the city's busiest corridors; exact alignments must still be determined. The total cost would be $1.9 billion, and funding for all but the Anacostia and H Street/Benning Road lines has not yet been identified, although much of the money will have to come from the federal government.

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