DC is planning a 22-mile priority streetcar system throughout the city. Part of that project is a 9-mile north-south streetcar line from Takoma in Northwest to Buzzard Point in Southwest, which will cross the neighborhoods of the Southwest Waterfront, Downtown, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Takoma.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will study the 9-mile line for the next 12 to 14 months to access construction challenges in each neighborhood, including crossing the National Mall. They will also consider how the streetcar system will integrate with the existing Metro bus routes that run parallel to the proposed streetcar line. In addition, the department will engage with the public on parking and traffic concerns.
When the study is complete, DDOT hopes to find a contractor to integrate the streetcar system, DC Metro buses, and the DC Circulator as a public-private partnership. This would include design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance to help the streetcar system get up and running more quickly.
After two or three years of planning, DDOT anticipates that it would take 17 to 20 years to for the District to construct the streetcar system, but with the partnership, it can be done in five years. DDOT spokesperson Dara Ward says, “Realistically, we’re looking at 2020-2021 for the 22-mile system to be built out.”
The new streetcars are not the old fashioned trolleys of 50 years ago. They are sleek and narrow cars about the length of an articulated Metrobus. The streetcars can travel up to 30 miles an hour and have electric motors, which make them very quiet. Plus, it’s a smooth and even ride.
The first part of the new streetcar line is a two-mile track along H Street and Benning Road in Northeast. You may even get the opportunity to ride this line by the end of the year.