I moved to DC not quite two years ago (I grew up in Adelphi/Hyattsville and Columbia, then went up to the Baltimore area for college and stayed for a long time). And in a weird way, living in this city, without a car, I felt suddenly much more a part of it than I had any other place I’ve ever lived. Maybe it’s because, being car less, I’m forced to interact with the environment in a way I haven’t, as an adult, ever before. So reading about what the future had for mass transit made me really excited because it makes this city, my home, even more obtainable to me.
So, reading that the Streetcar Project might be killed off makes me feel very, very sad. It’s like someone you care about who is about to make a giant leap forward in their personal growth and development … and suddenly they get a chill and call it quits.
At approximately 2 am last night, Councilmembers received the proposed budget from Chairman Vincent Gray and his staff. Among the 11th-hour (or should it be 14th-hour) changes was a near-complete elimination of the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line.
The line had been approved by the Committee on Public Works and Transportation last week, but the final proposed Budget Support Act removes it and returns funding to some of the Great Streets streetscapes which DDOT said they could backfill with federal funds.
It may be too late to now save the program, but if you want to push for Gray to restore it, call Gray’s office immediately at 202-724-8032.
I kind of have to think that, in an urban environment, rail mass transportation is a no-brainer. Obviously, it isn’t, or this blog post wouldn’t be getting written (hell, Greater Greater Washington probably wouldn’t even be around). When you look at the history of the development and expansion of the Metro system, economic development and revitalization has followed the system. Doesn’t it then follow, that in addition to providing people more and different options to make their way about this wonderful city, that the Streetcar would do the same for DC that the Metro has?
UPDATE 5/27 7:05am
It was midnight Tuesday, and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray had it all figured out. To help close a projected $550 million budget gap, he would take an ax to the city’s plan to build a new streetcar system — one of his mayoral rival’s pet projects.
But hours later — after a backlash from at least one member of Congress and hundreds of residents who jammed government phone lines, community e-mail groups and Gray’s Web site — the late-night maneuver had been scrapped. By midday Wednesday, Gray was back at the council dais, telling his colleagues that he and city finance officials had found $50 million to keep the streetcar program on track.