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Streetcar To Make Long-Awaited Appearance On H Street NE This Week

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Photo credit: DC Streetcar Flickr

Photo credit: DC Streetcar Flickr

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — They say things always come back into style.

Usually they’re talking about clothes, but in D.C., streetcars are what’s making a comeback in 2014.

Streetcars were a popular method of mass transit in the District more than fifty years ago, when there were 200 miles of track in the city.

Eventually, buses drove streetcars to extinction and the last day of service in D.C. was Jan. 28, 1962. However, streetcars are coming back into favor nationwide, and the D.C. Department of Transportation is set to reintroduce them to modern passengers early next year.

Construction on a line that will run between Union Station and Benning Road began in December 2012. A road-rail truck began operating on H Street NE in November as part of the testing phase of the system, but on Friday the real deal will make an appearance.

DDOT has announced that it will close the eastbound and westbound lanes of H Street NE, between North Capitol Street and 5th Street NE, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday to allow for the delivery of the first streetcar from the testing facility in Anacostia.

The road will be closed until 1 a.m. Saturday. Then the functional testing process will begin.

Each streetcar has the capacity to carry up to 150 people, and will travel at a mere 8 miles per hour to facilitate frequent stops, as they’ll share the right-of-way with surrounding traffic.

Proponents of the streetcar project say it will spur economic development while also reducing traffic, demand for parking and strain on other modes of mass transit.

DDOT plans to eventually build a 37-mile system spanning all eight Wards of the city. Active planning and construction is underway for the first 22 miles of the envisioned lines.

For more information on the project, visit dcstreetcar.com.

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