Mayor Vincent Gray Opposed To Union Station Streetcar Loop

12/07/2011 09:27 am ET | Updated Dec 07, 2011
  • The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- The partially-built H Street NE-Benning Road streetcar line needs to connect to Union Station somehow, and at a Tuesday night community gathering, Mayor Vincent Gray told a crowd of concerned residents where future streetcars won't be going.

"It's nice that they're looking at options, but let me be clear, we are not running any streetcar down 3rd Street and down 2nd Street," the mayor said, according to Washington City Paper. "Just so you know, I know these streets like the back of my hand...You will not be going through somebody's neighborhood to get to Union Station."

The mayor grew up a few blocks away at 6th and L streets NE.

The District Department of Transportation, which has been slowly developing the new streetcar line in phases, still needs to build a connection to Union Station. One option under consideration has been a short loop running from the current tracks on H Street to 2nd and F streets NE, a block east of the station and roughly two blocks from the Red Line Metrorail entrance.

But that option seems to be out of contention after the mayor's comments and threats of lawsuits from neighbors.

That leaves planners with having a connection to the station via H Street's "Hopscotch Bridge," which is situated over Union Station's rail yard and station platforms but roughly two blocks north of the station's Main Hall, train concourse and Red Line Metrorail entrance.

A previous plan to run streetcars beneath the "Hopscotch Bridge" and the Union Station rail yards through an existing underpass hit roadblocks.

While much of the trackwork is already in place after years of construction, there's still a long way to go to the streetcar's current opening day in July 2013. DDOT needs to purchase two additional rail car, construct a car bar and electrical systems and build turn around tracks.

And as the Examiner reports, a streetcar line running through Anacostia that had been slated to be D.C.'s first new streetcar line now has no current start date.