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Streetcar Routes

November 11, 2013

The District Department of Transportation has kicked off its planning process for the second major streetcar corridor, following the H Street-Benning Road line that’s set to open next year and then extend westward to Georgetown. The north-south line is planned as a nine-mile route from Buzzard Point to Takoma or Silver Spring, aimed at connecting the planned D.C. United soccer stadium, the Southwest Waterfront, the National Mall, downtown, Howard University, the redeveloped Walter Reed Campus, and Metro stations along the way.

According to DDOT, here are the potential routes it’s considering:

The north-south roads under consideration are, from west to east: 14th Street, 13th Street, 11th Street, 9th Street/Sherman Avenue, and 7th Street/Georgia Avenue. In other words, every continuous north-south road within the study corridor—plus a whole bunch of east-west streets to connect them, in case DDOT wants to go for more than one.

One thing DDOT officials say they’d prefer to avoid is traffic circles, given the mess of trying to navigate streetcars, buses, cars, and bikes around them. That would theoretically eliminate routes solely along 14th and 13th streets. 11th Street probably isn’t a great candidate, since it terminates at Spring Road in Columbia Heights (and its old trolley line ended at the turnaround that’s now the 11th and Monroe Park). Nor is Sherman Avenue, which was recently reduced to one lane of traffic in either direction as part of the traffic-calming streetscape project. That leaves Georgia Avenue as perhaps the most attractive option, since it (with its 7th Street extension) runs the length of the corridor. Indeed, DDOT says on its website that “some residents refer to this as the ‘Georgia Avenue Line.'”

But Georgia is already a highly traveled bus corridor, making a streetcar somewhat duplicative. And there’s always the chance of a line that cuts east-west between two or more north-south streets. As DDOT is making clear, everything’s still on the table.

SOURCE: Washington City Paper/Aaron Weiner

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