Archive for the ‘Streetcars’ category

Streetcar Meetings Scheduled for Next Week

June 2, 2014

The final round of meetings for the first phase of the North-South Corridor Planning Study are scheduled to begin next week (see flyer below for locations and times). As I understand it from other meetings I’ve attended, the from the previous meetings is definitely in favor of streetcar service. There is still some question about the alignment in our area. Currently both Sherman and Georgia Avenue are on the table. What will be interesting will be how the DC Council’s recent vote to reduce planned spending through 2021 from $1.4 billion to $730 million may impact the discussion.

Series 3 Streetcar meetings

DDOT’s North-South Streetcar Materials Now Online

February 25, 2014

At the end of last week, DDOT added the presentation materials from their February public North-South Streetcar meetings to their online library. As a follow up to my previous post, I wanted to make sure residents interested in this initiative were aware of these materials and had an opportunity to review the information prior to the third series of meetings, which are currently scheduled for June 2014. Below is the meeting’s presentation slide deck and more images from the presentation boards.

slide deck title screen(The slide deck from the presentation. Click for all 23 slides)

The boards showing potential street cross sections should be of particular interest to the community, as they suggest how the streetcars could be laid out on particular streets  — which also suggests how they could impact parking or bike lanes. There were several options shown at the public presentations so that DDOT could get community feedback. I suspect that the options will be narrowed down with fewer options by the third round of public meetings. Below are scenarios A & B.


… and below are scenarios C & D.


… and lastly, the video below of streetcar simulations and videos from various US projects were shown during the second series of public meetings for the North-South Corridor. In these meetings, DDOT examined potential conceptual alignments for the streetcar.

Brief Notes from DDOT’s North-South Corridor Study Public Meeting

February 20, 2014
This de

This map from the presentation indicates ridership volume and most heavily used stops.

After attending last night’s North-South Corridor Study at Banneker Recreation Center, I wanted to share a few notes and first impressions while they are still fresh in my mind. If you didn’t attend, but want to, there is a final meeting tonight at Emery Recreation Center – 5701 Georgia Ave NW – from 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentations will be at 4:00pm and 7:00pm.

The current round of meetings are the second of three rounds, with the final series currently planned for around June. The first round was in November and was very general in its approach. It focused on streetcars and buses, along with a variety of corridors.

The stated purpose of the corridor study is to evaluate reliable and comprehensive improved transit service in the North-South corridor and support existing neighborhoods and future growth in and along the corridor. The corridor in question is the 9-mile corridor from Takoma/Silver Spring to Buzzard Point/Southwest.

Since the first meetings, and with the above in mind, a few decisions have been made (although there are still many more that need to be made). First off, it definitely looks like DDOT has settled on streetcars as the mode of transportation. Based on the data of ridership in the corridors now and the population projects in the coming years, the streetcar option provides the better scenario for capacity and reliability.

In short, to use DDOT’s words, they are choosing the streetcar option because they:

  1. Increase transit capacity,
  2. Provide complementary service to buses,
  3. Improve transit vehicle accessibility and reliability of service,
  4. Increase transit share of trips, and
  5. Provide a higher quality of service.

There were a couple of things I found interesting in looking at the various information boards. The first was a map showing ridership volume and busiest stops (see map above). In looking at 16th and 14th streets vs. Georgia Avenue, 16th and 14th streets have a ridership that suggests that they support more commuters and the Georgia Avenue data suggested more local traffic. This ridership pattern suggested that the future streetcar route should be on or near Georgia Avenue.

Some streetcar routes still being considered.

Some streetcar routes still being considered.

Other routes were discounted because they were considered to have fatal flaws (constructability, grades, turns, & tunnels/bridges) . 14th Street, for example, already has a horrible traffic intersection at the intersection of Monroe and 13th Street has a grade by Cardozo High School that is too steep for a good streetcar line.

North of New Hampshire Avenue, Georgia Avenue is definitely the route with only the end in question (Takoma or Silver Spring). In our area (Zone 3) both Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue are on the table. Due to the new streetscape along Sherman, and the higher volume of traffic on Georgia, I favor Georgia over Sherman.

Roughly at Florida Avenue, four different possible routes come in to play. Of these, I think the 14th Street option is the best, followed by the 11th Street option. Either would bring much needed transit to an area not well served by Metrorail. I favor the 14th Street option more because it would serve more of U Street and I think that is important.

Lastly, parking and traffic configurations still need to be figured out. There were several boards that illustrated possible traffic patterns with a streetcar system in place. Some of these included parking, others did not. None were being presented as what DDOT will be doing, but rather as options to get attendees talking about what they liked or didn’t like. As for me, I think there is definitely room for both streetcars and parking south of Florida Avenue and north of New Hampshire Avenue. I’m still uncertain about the Florida to New Hampshire section of Georgia Avenue.  I know parking is an issue with some, but I also know that increased transit capacity is critical with a growing city and new residential developments continuing to come to Georgia.

I’ll post the slide deck from the meetings once it is publicly available.
street configurations north south study(Two of the many street configuration patterns posted at the meeting for attendees to evaluate)

2nd Phase of Public Meetings for the North-South Corridor Planning Begin Today

February 18, 2014

North South study second phaseDDOT’s second series of public meetings related to their North-South Corridor Planning Study begins today. The meeting for our area will be at Banneker Recreation Center tomorrow, with presentations at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is in the middle of a planning study to examine opportunities for public transportation improvements in the North-South corridor through DC. Over the next year, DDOT will be working in collaboration with the community, area businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders to identify and evaluate above-ground, high quality transit service.

The study area is focused on a 9-mile, North-South corridor that connects the Takoma/Silver Spring area to the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area. The study area extends east to west from about 16th Street on the west to approximately one-quarter mile east of Georgia Avenue.

Meetings will be open house style with two opportunities for residents to hear an overview presentation. Each meeting will cover the same information, so feel free to attend any of the meetings that fit into your schedule.

The scheduled meeting locations and times are:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
DCRA- 2nd Floor Community Room – 1100 4th St SW

Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
Banneker Recreation Center – 2500 Georgia Ave NW

Thursday, February 20, 2014; 3:30pm-8:00pm. Presentation at 4:00pm and 7:00pm
Emery Recreation Center – 5701 Georgia Ave NW

Wednesday, February 19, 2014; 10:00am-12:00pm.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library- 901 G St NW

Click here for a recap of Public Meeting Series #1.

DDOT’s Second Round of North-South Corridor Planning Study Meetings Scheduled for February

January 22, 2014
DDOT's North-South Corridor map.

DDOT’s North-South Corridor map.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has scheduled their second round of public meetings to examine opportunities for public transportation improvements in the North-South corridor through DC for February  18th, 19th, & 20th. The meeting in our area will be held at Banneker Recreation Center (2500 Georgia Ave.) on February 19th. Presentation times are set for 4 pm and 7 pm. If you can not make this meeting, all the meetings should be similar so feel free to attend the meetings that fit into your schedule (flyer here).

DDOT held their first round of public North-South Corridor meetings in November 2013 (my review and opinions of those meetings here).

Details from DDOT’s announcement of the meetings:

The study area is focused on a 9-mile, North-South corridor that connects the Takoma/Silver Spring area to the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area. The study area extends east to west from about 16th Street on the west to approximately one-quarter mile east of Georgia Avenue.

Community involvement and feedback is essential to helping DDOT and other partnering entities plan, build and operate the best streetcar system possible.

For more information about this study please visit North-South Corridor Planning Study ( or contact Jamie Henson at 202-671-1324 or (mailto:Jamie.Henson (at) . To join the project distribution list visit

North South Study part 2 page 2

Thoughts on DDOT’s North-South Corridor Meetings

November 13, 2013
Detail of the Conceptual Alternatives map showing streets in the greater Park View area that are part of the North-South Study (click for full map)

Detail of the Conceptual Alternatives map showing streets in the greater Park View area that are part of the North-South Study (click for full map)

Having attended both the November 4th North-South Corridor meeting and the less formal November 11th presentation during the Georgia Avenue Economic Development Community Task Force (GAEDTF), its time to pull together some of my initial impressions. To begin with, the area under consideration involves a lot of streets, many of which I can’t imagine will be on the table for long. But, in essence, the study area includes the traffic currently handled by three of the top five busiest routes in the District. The overall corridor handles a quarter of the District’s bus ridership, which is over 60,000 bus riders per day.

During the presentations DDOT was fairly clear that they were open to listening from residents on whether the solution to meeting the transportation demands would be streetcars or something else. However, for several years now, streetcars have been the mode of transportation most discussed, and I think it has an advantage over alternative modes at this time. But … it was also clear that this phase of meetings was a very early step in the process and there will be other opportunities for the public to weigh in. The second series of meetings during Phase one are likely to be conducted in January/February 2014 and the third series could be around May/June 2014. Once they are completed, the study will move on to Phase 2: the environmental study.

Planning process graphic

The purpose of the meetings was also to gather community input on which routes were desired, which routes residents didn’t like, and gather concerns so that the study team has more information to work with. Jaime Henson, the chief DDOT presenter, stated that we, the residents, know our neighborhoods and streets far better than the study team ever could, and that was why community input was so essential to the process. They also made it clear that if someone stated they didn’t like one option over another to tell the team why. That was the best way for the study to understand the underlying issues connected to  the corridor.

One thing I found interesting was that many residents in the SW Waterfront and upper Georgia Avenue areas tended to respond to the presentations positively. I would say that the overall vibe in the room at the GAEDTF meeting wasn’t that keen on streetcars — among the comments expressed were an interest in more circulator bus service, concern about overhead wires, concern that a disabled streetcar will snarl traffic, and that there isn’t room on Georgia Avenue for streetcars, buses, parking, and cars.

However, when compared to alternative routes in the area, I don’t see 14th Street, 11th Street, or Sherman Avenue being superior choices to Georgia Avenue. 14th Street, in particular, is usually a congested mess during morning rush hour and much of that has been in response to efforts to slow traffic down in the area around Park Road.

In looking at the comparison above, a streetcar's capacity is 65 riders greater than an articulated bus.

In looking at the comparison above, a streetcar’s capacity is 65 riders greater than an articulated bus.

In comparing modes of transportation with their size and rider capacity, I think it is fairly easy to see why DDOT has been considering streetcars so seriously. An average streetcar can carry 65 more passengers than an articulated bus. In such a comparison, the streetcar is also only 6 ft. longer than the articulated bus. In comparing width, streetcars and buses are roughly the same. However, driving lanes for buses are typically wider than those needed for streetcars because streetcars travel on rails and remain on their tracks, whereas a bus will naturally travel from side to side a bit more within a lane due to its unfettered nature.

Transportation comparison widths

So, the question becomes, if the District’s goal is to improve traffic between Buzzard Point in the South and Takoma Park/Silver Spring in the north, how does the Ward 1 section of the corridor want to participate? Do residents want the plan to include Georgia Avenue, or do they want it to bypass Georgia Avenue? Considering that a streetcar system would increase capacity the most, is the community willing to give anything up to accommodate this service — or do residents merely want to continue to add buses to the existing 70 network?

From my viewpoint, removing metered parking and establishing dedicated streetcar lanes would make a lot of sense. This would be especially true if the improved transportation service decreased visitors needing to drive to the corridor. The dedicated lane would also address the concern that a disabled streetcar would snarl traffic. Of course, an alternative to this would be to keep the metered parking and have streetcars share the road with automobiles. This is similar to the build-out on H Street where streetcars will share lanes with traffic.

All-in-all, there will be a lot for the community to consider. I’m certainly looking forward to the next round of public meetings to learn what insight DDOT gained from the last round of meetings and how that will move the process forward.

The full library of presentation materials used during the community presentations is available here. It’s worth a look to become more familiar with the study parameters and the challenges DDOT is attempting to address.

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