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Washington - May 2011

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Washington, DC ― Streetcar Planning Gains Momentum

Rail Transit Online, May 2011

Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray's $99.3-million, six-year commitment for streetcar construction in the District has given Department of Transportation Interim Director Terry Bellamy the green light to begin advanced planning for a line on M Street, an extension of the Benning Road route to Benning Road Metro station and combined bus and streetcar lanes on K Street from Union Station to Washington Circle.

Officials hope to build a 37-mi. (59.5 km), $1.5-billion network covering every ward by 2020 and the local investment is seen as a way to leverage even more money from the FTA. "A $100-million commitment from the mayor could be a huge down payment on getting a very substantial commitment from the federal government as well," District DoT spokesman John Lisle told the Washington Examiner. This summer, environmental studies will begin on each of the projects, initiating the process leading to an application for federal funding.

Meanwhile, the DDoT has announced it will "substantially complete" street and sidewalk work in the H Street corridor by June 30, which includes installation of streetcar track. However, revenue service won't begin until late 2012, about six months behind schedule, in part because there's no operating money in next year's municipal budget. In addition, traction power equipment must be installed and a contractor hired to run and maintain the streetcars.

Possibly most important is reaching an agreement with Amtrak for a terminal at Union Station and access to a disused tunnel under H Street and the rail yard at Union Station. This will be a temporary facility until 2015, when the city will finish rebuilding the H Street Bridge that will carry streetcar tracks on its deck.


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