Archive for the ‘streetcars’ category

Photo of Lower Georgia Avenue in 1943

August 18, 2014

lower georgia streetcar 1943

I recently found this snapshot of lower Georgia Avenue dated December 12, 1943. According to the writing on the back of it, it shows Capital Tranist car #1334 at the Georgia Avenue plow pit. Back when Washington had a citywide streetcar system, the areas outside of the original city used overhead wires. When cars reached the point where they switched to overhead operation, they stopped over a plow  pit like the one shown on Georgia Avenue where the conduit plows were detached and the trolley poles raised. The reverse operation occurred on inbound runs.

The photo above shows a northbound streetcar, so it is in the early stages of switching to overhead operation (the pole has not been raised yet).

It’s also interesting to see the Wonder Bread factory in the background, which was originally Corby Bakery. The building today is known as Wonder Plaza.

DDOT Schedules Community Meetings for North-Sounth Corridor Planning Study

October 14, 2013
DDOT's North-South Corridor map.

DDOT’s North-South Corridor map.

At the November ANC 1A meeting, representatives of DDOT attended to inform the community that the first series of public meetings were set to begin the discussions on the future of transportation on the North-South Corridor. While it is my understanding that this will include other north-south corridors — such as 14th streets — a lot of focus has been and will continue to be on the 7th Street/Georgia Avenue corridor.

The Commission was also informed that the study would look at all modes of transportation such as bus rapid transit, bike lanes, and street cars. However, I suspect that the main focus will be street cars since all literature is hosted on DDOT’s site.

In reviewing the meeting schedule (image below), I was immediately dismayed that none of the four meetings have been schedule along lower Georgia Avenue. The north meeting will be held at Emery Recreation (5701 Georgia) and the south meeting is scheduled at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church (600 M Street, NW). Both are on or near the 7th St/Georgia Ave route. However, the other two meetings — serving the business community and central section of the study, are scheduled for the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets.

Upon seeing this, I immediately informed the presenters that this was unacceptable and that either the location of the meeting for the central section needs to be changed, or, an additional meeting needs to be added. In my opinion, It is inexcusable that residents of Park View, Pleasant Plains, and Howard University — areas that will be directly impacted by any decisions that come out of the study — are required to travel a significant distance to attend one of the meetings when residents who live in the south or north sections are accommodated with a meeting right in their community. I’ve been pressing for a new central location and will inform the community should a new location be identified.

Regardless of meeting locations, if one of the dates and locations fit in your schedule, and if you are interested in how the future of transportation will impact Georgia Avenue, you are strongly encouraged to attend one of the public meetings.

Front and Back of the flyer announcing meeting dates and locations for the North South Corridor Study,

Front and Back of the flyer announcing meeting dates and locations for the North South Corridor Study,

The DCstreetcar Website provides the following overview of the what the study is and what the study’s goals are:

As part of the DC Streetcar Program, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is initiating a Planning Study to examine opportunities for public transportation improvements in a proposed north-south corridor through the District. Over the next year, DDOT will work with the community, businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders to develop and evaluate transit alternatives to improve mobility in the corridor and enhance livability in the study area.  At the end of the study, DDOT will present a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), whether streetcar or enhanced bus service.

The study area is focused on a 9-mile, north-south corridor that starts in the Buzzard Point/Southwest Waterfront area.  DDOT will examine ending the line in Takoma or Silver Spring. The study area extends east-west for about two blocks on either side of potential identified alignments.

For evaluation purposes, the study area will be divided into three different areas:

  1. A northern study area, from Takoma/Silver Spring generally to Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro station area;
  2. A central study area, from the Georgia Avenue/Petworth Metro Station area to the Convention Center; and
  3. A southern study area, from the Convention Center to the SW Waterfront/Buzzard Point area.

The North-South Corridor will support the goals of the DC Streetcar Program to enhance existing transit service and provide more transportation choices within the District.

Streetcar Study Suggests System Could Generate $8 Billion in Development Over Next Decade

January 30, 2012

Last week the D.C. Department of Planning released the District of Columbia Streetcar Land Use Study, intended to “provide an initial foundation of analysis that the Office of Planning, DDOT and other involved agencies will use to make recommendations regarding the District’s streetcar system.” As the Washington Post points out in their coverage of the study, it suggests that the “37-mile citywide streetcar system could attract up to 7,700 new jobs, raise property values by up to $7 billion and bring in as much as $8 billion in new development over the next decade.”

The study breaks the proposed system down by corridors and gives an overview of each, listing both benefits and challenges. With regards to Georgia Avenue, it lists the following notable indicators:

  • Median household income rises along Georgia Avenue from about $35,000 at the corridor’s southern end to about $70,000 at the north, placing it in the upper-middle range of streetcar corridors
  • At the southern end of the corridor, with many public housing residents and university students, more than 50% of households earn less than $35,000, and nearly 60% lack a car.
  • The corridor is expected to add a large number of households by 2030.

Following are the benefits and challenges related to Georgia Avenue as outlined in the study:

Benefits: The streetcar can transform auto-oriented portions of Georgia Avenue NW into more transit-oriented areas with higher-value development and improved access options. Streetcar service would expand the walkable area now concentrated at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station. Similarly, it would make the northern part of the Howard campus, an important employer, more accessible to the Shaw-Howard University Metro station. The streetcar would also amplify Georgia Avenue’s appeal as an office location for creative-economy industries. As households and jobs increase along the corridor in response to the streetcar, thousands of square feet of new neighborhood-oriented retail could be created. These changes would make Georgia Avenue’s neighborhoods more self-sufficient in terms of jobs and services.

Many commercial parcels hold strong potential for infill redevelopment, like the former Curtis Chevrolet
dealership at Peabody Street NW. Such sites could reinforce neighborhood commercial nodes and
attract employers to locations along Georgia Avenue in Brightwood, Manor Park, 16th Street Heights, and
Petworth. The corridor’s marquee opportunity, however, is the Walter Reed campus, where planning has begun to introduce major redevelopment that combines commercial, government, and housing uses over a decade.

Extending the streetcar line north on Georgia Avenue to Silver Spring, instead of ending it at Takoma as now
planned, would open opportunities in this part of the District. The District’s northern neighborhoods would
gain much better transit access to regional job centers and housing. This could, in turn, significantly raise land value and neighborhood connections along Georgia Avenue. Shifting the route would not markedly affect Takoma, because it already has Metro service. Section 4b contains a more detailed explanation of this alternative routing.

Challenges: The biggest design challenge involves integrating the streetcar into the right of way along
Georgia Avenue, a thoroughfare that currently experiences high volumes of bus, motor vehicle, and
pedestrian traffic. Areas now dominated by auto-oriented development will need pedestrian and streetscape improvements.


Then and Now: Decatur Street Car Barn

April 8, 2011


Car barn 1907Car barn 14th street

(The new car barns of the Capital Traction Company on “Fourteenth Street Extended” in December 1907 (left) and today (right))

We haven’t really heard anything of substance about streetcars on Georgia Avenue since the middle of last year. With the way the District budget is shaping up it’s likely to be years before it happens, if it happens at all. Yet, one thing I’ve been curious about since DDOT first proposed a city-wide streetcar system is where the trains will actually be housed when not in use.

The old car barns on Georgia Avenue, which were transformed into Curtis Chevrolet, are currently going to be raised to make way for Walmart and the car barns on East Capitol Street are now condos. The Decatur Street car barn (above) at 4615 14th Street, NW, would make an excellent facility in the area — except it isn’t located on any of the proposed lines.

The Decatur Street car barn dates to 1907 and was considered an architectural gain for the District. Architects Wood, Donn & Deming designed the structure for the Capital Traction Company which wanted their new facility to be in keeping with the residential architecture in the surrounding neighborhood. The finished barns accommodated over 250 streetcars. Today it is WMATA’s Metrobus Northern Division garage.

View from the interior of the car barn toward 14th Street, 1961


Streetcars from Georgia Avenue’s Past

September 8, 2010

The first of forty-five Electric Railway Presidents’ Conference Cars (PCC) entered service in Washington on August 28, 1937 serving 14th Street. Additional PCC car orders followed quickly. The Georgia Avenue line received thirty-eight in 1939. There were a few different streetcar lines that ran through Park View: the 70, 72, and 74. The 7th Street/Georgia Avenue line stretched from the 7th Street wharves in the south to the District border at Georgia and Alaska Avenues.

The image above shows a PCC car on the 74 line turning around at its northern terminus near the Upshur Street gates of the Soldiers’ Home. Like many U.S. cities, the District discontinued streetcar service in favor of buses with the last day of streetcar operations in Washington being January 28, 1962.


Update on Lower Georgia Avenue Streetcars

May 5, 2010

Part of Mayor Fenty’s kick off of the four day DC Streetcar Showcase which is located on the site of the old DC Convention Center (9th & H Streets, NW), was the news release below issued today, May 5, 2010. Part of that news release included information that DDOT, in partnership with WMATA, had developed a final report for the streetcar system. Instructions on how to get to the April 2010 Final report are in the news release.

DDOT's proposed streetcar plan for lower Georgia Avenue, May 2010 (From DDOT)

In looking at the final report, I found the above map of particular interest. While still in Phase 1 of the streetcar buildout, if I’m reading the document correctly, lower Georgia Avenue seems to be the final segmant of Phase 1.

I was also drawn to the location of the proposed stops for the streetcars. In the case of Park View, it appears that there will only be stops near Georgia Avenue’s intersections with Irving and New Hampshire Avenue. While I understand that we don’t want to overburden the system with too many stops, I think there needs to be one around Georgia and Park Road, especially if the redeveloped Park Morton is going to be there.

You can access all DDOT documents on streetcars here, and the full Fenty news release is after the jump>> (more…)

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