Plans and further studies for a proposed and much discussed DC Streetcar extension to Georgetown, running from downtown to the K Street waterfront, have now been stopped “for the foreseeable future.”
The project was not included in any of the District Department of Transportation’s 2020 budget requests in a 600-plus-page document DDOT submitted to the District Council this week. “There are no active plans to advance the remainder of the 22-mile system,” DDOT officials told the Council.
“It’s a shame,” said Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Joe Gibbons. “A lot of time and effort were invested in the proposed idea over the past few years that resulted in very good, innovative transportation, landscaping and street use ideas. DDOT and the city Council are trying hard to find alternatives to our reliance on cars in the District. A streetcar is such an idea that would have helped commerce and students in Georgetown.”
A DDOT brochure supporting the project in 2018 stated: “Georgetown is a major activity center with limited connectivity to the east due to the natural barrier of Rock Creek Park. Georgetown is not currently served by a Metrorail station, and a streetcar would offer the first rail service to the neighborhood.”
But there were concerns. Over the years, The Georgetowner has reported on many meetings that brought on heated discussions over placement of the streetcars on K Street, storage of the cars and displacement of private parking and vehicle flow. “People are concerned about bottlenecks and traffic jams,” Gibbons said in 2018.
Then there were the costs, which kept going up.
An additional obstacle is that the extension of the streetcar to Georgetown is tied to a major overhaul of Union Station. The H Street Bridge — the western end of the proposed line — would need to be rebuilt for the streetcar, the Union Station rail expansion and related projects. That will take years.
Still, Gibbons told The Georgetowner: “Never say never. We live in a modern society with a very progressive mayor that is moving away from reliance on cars. Many of the ideas generated with the Georgetown streetcar project can be used in the future. But for 2020 budget purposes today, of course DDOT has to say they’ve been stopped for the foreseeable future.”
According to budget documents, DDOT is planning to extend the streetcar line east over the Anacostia River along Benning Road NE to the Benning Road Metro station, as well as adding one mile of bus-only lanes each way on K Street from 10th to 21st Streets NW.