Transit Thursday: H Street-car

Well, dear friends and lovers of the Atlas District, as I’m sure most of you already know, the streetcar has been postponed. AGAIN. And AGAIN.

Groan, now the DDOT is projecting for an opening of late 2013 for the opening leg of an eventual citywide light rail line. Despite the completion of major construction and appropriate streetscape improvements (making H into quite the grand boulevard), the prickly pickle holding up the H Street-Benning leg is the location of a westbound streetcar storage facility.

Amtrak denied the city direct tunnel access under the Hopscotch Bridge (naturally the most convenient option), which would have provided proximity to Union Station and the Metro. Now there are several other options to explore —
1) the streetcar will now go over the bridge to the Union Station garage (where hipsters catch Bolt Bus) — seems direct enough.
2) veering north on 3rd Street, the streetcar will rendezvous with the NY Ave Metro on M Street NE before heading south on First Street down to Union Station around G Street — seems sort of roundabout and counterproductive, although it does go through NoMa and hits two subway lines.

3) punching a hole through the bridge (as originally proposed) and turning north on 2nd Street NE, terminating two blocks north at F Street, just a block away from Union.
Who knows how long each proposal would take to complete. Option 1 would presumably be the shortest and most sensible. Option 2 would serve more areas and transit hubs, but would take the longest to complete. Option 3 seems the most meh, so naturally this is the one they’ll most likely choose.
How about Option 4 — build the streetcar barn at the eastbound terminus at Oklahoma Avenue NE, near the old, blighted RFK satellite parking lot, and also put in the long-discussed infill Blue Line station there? Then add a roundabout at the westbound terminus at 3rd Street, and voila – problem solved.
What say you, dear friends? Discuss!
Written by Joel Church.

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