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Georgia Avenue Streetcar Project Gets D.C. Resident Feedback

by Kris Ankarlo
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D.C. residents attend a public forum hosted by DDOT on a potential Georgia Avenue streetcar line. (Photo by Kris Ankarlo/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

D.C. residents attend a public forum hosted by DDOT on a potential Georgia Avenue streetcar line. (Photo by Kris Ankarlo/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — As District commuters await the first revenue operation of the H Street streetcar line, city planners have their eye on an even bigger project.

This week the public has been invited to add their input to a possible North-South Corridor streetcar line that would run largely along Georgia Avenue. Jamie Henson, the District’s Department of Transportation Manager of Project Review, says the line is very early in the planning stages.

“I can’t say enough that this is a planning study, as opposed to design or even an environmental process where we make a decision,” Henson said. “This is not a decision process, this is our first real thought of how we might address the needs of the corridor.”

This is the second series in public meetings following meetings in the fall that narrowed down transit options along the corridor to a streetcar. Henson says these meetings are about listening to the pitfalls that citizens may see for the project.

“It’s a complex urban environment, and when you deal with these environments there are complexities that are hard to appreciate from just looking at Google Maps,” Henson said. “Google Maps — everything looks easy. Meanwhile, there are business owners all along that say, ‘My truck parks here,’ ‘I park here for this,’ and ‘My customers go there.’ It’s just not easy.”

In total, DDOT is holding four meetings for public input this week, with one more scheduled for Thursday evening at the Emery Recreation Center.

Geneva remembers when streetcars used to roam through the District. She came to Wednesday’s meeting to find out if the new versions would run into the same problems as old.

“You’ve got to keep the buses, because streetcars can’t go around a traffic accident,” Geneva said, adding that she is opposed to the streetcar line but appreciates that DDOT is offering the chance for input.

Robin just moved to the District from Los Angeles.

“I wanted to see what kind of work was going into transportation here,” Robin said. “It doesn’t matter as long as it alleviates congestion.”

The line is planned to run from Buzzard Point in Southwest to Silver Spring. How it gets there is up for discussion.

At each of the meetings the room is lined with about a dozen posterboard stations highlighting different options in the planning phase. One of the boards shows possible routes of the line. For example, there is an option for the line to run up Sherman Avenue back to Georgia Avenue. Members of the public are invited to weigh in on the possible routing.

One route that’s not up for discussion is the heavily trafficked 16th Street.

“There are historic preservation issues, it has a terminating view of the White House,” Henson said. “The big push for ridership is Columbia Heights south, whereas on Georgia Avenue the demand goes much further up.”

Put another way, there are more potential riders from start to finish along Georgia Avenue.

If you can’t make it to the last meeting Thursday night, you can still offer up your input on the DC Streetcar website.

WNEW’s Kris Ankarlo contributed to this story. Follow Kris on Twitter.

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