DC Streetcar to Georgetown is dead

d.c. streetcar
The department is still planning to extend the streetcar line east over the Anacostia River along Benning Road Northeast to the Benning Road Metro station. (WTOP/Max Smith)

Plans to extend the DC Streetcar to Georgetown have been effectively scrapped.

The District Department of Transportation is halting all work on the project “for the foreseeable future,” according to documents submitted to the D.C. Council.

“DDOT does not see a feasible path towards implementation of this project in the short term, due to funding priorities and storage and maintenance needs discovered during the [environmental analysis],” DDOT wrote.

Building a new storage and maintenance facility required for more streetcars and a longer line drew concerns about land availability, in part, because DDOT had proposed putting it near the existing maintenance facility at the eastern end of the line.

The department is still planning to extend the streetcar line east over the Anacostia River along Benning Road Northeast to the Benning Road Metro station. The $241 million project includes roadway and bridge improvements, the streetcar extension and $20 million in new streetcar vehicles.

DDOT’s budget projects an additional $20 million for fleet repairs and overhauls of the existing streetcar fleet between 2022 and 2024.

Nearly four years after the 2-mile line finally opened to riders, problems obtaining spare parts continue to create maintenance delays. There are additional issues with building maintenance and repair.

Without the streetcar to Georgetown, DDOT is focused on:

  • Adding 1 mile of bus-only lanes each way on K Street Northwest from 10th to 21st streets Northwest;
  • Eventually rebuilding the Hopscotch Bridge that carries H Street Northeast behind Union Station over the rail yard; and
  • Redesigning New Jersey Avenue.

“DDOT is currently focusing on designing the K Street Transitway, to improve speed and reliability for east/west buses through downtown. The K Street Transitway shares some goals with the USGT [Union Station-Georgetown streetcar] project and offers a more feasible path for implementation,” DDOT wrote.

DDOT could rely on some of the studies done under the Georgetown streetcar project to support the transitway’s development.

The final spending tied to the Union Station-Georgetown line is $101,595 for a traffic analysis begun in November that DDOT now says could be used to support the transitway project.

The city has yet to decide if or when it might charge to ride the streetcar. DDOT does not plan to reconsider free fares until at least the opening of the extension to the Benning Road Metro around 2026.

Though there were past plans for a larger 22-mile or 37-mile network of streetcars in the District, none of those other proposed lines are moving forward either.

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