I reported yesterday that H Street NE business owners were concerned that the city had failed to account for delivery truck accommodations when designing the streetcar along that corridor, and that the trucks would no longer be able to park along H Street without blocking the streetcar. Some of the business owners suggested narrowing the sidewalks or taking other measures to allow both the trucks and the streetcar to access the street—-something that could further delay the opening of the streetcar that’s now set for early next year.
But District Department of Transportation spokesman Reggie Sanders says the city will not undertake the kind of work that could cause delays. “DDOT does not plan on redoing utilities and sidewalks to accommodate deliveries,” Sanders says in a statement. “There is no need. If any potential conflicts do exist, low-cost changes can be introduced that will not delay streetcar service in any way.”
That statement appears to conflict with assurances from DDOT officials at yesterday’s meeting with H Street business owners that all options were “on the table.”
Sanders says the city is currently “redesigning its delivery systems to match those of a world-class city,” by means of better information collection, a program to require drivers to pay a fee for the use of curbside loading zones, and incentives for off-hours delivery with the assistance of a federal grant.
Ron Garraffa, an engineer with HDR, one of the city’s contractors for the streetcar, says delivery trucks already block traffic to an extent, but “it’s now exacerbated because a rubber-tire car can stop or switch lanes while a streetcar can’t.”
That, of course, is a pretty huge difference. Traffic may be slowed slightly as cars or buses swerve around trucks that jut out slightly into traffic lanes, but streetcars would be stopped entirely. Still, Garraffa says the delivery truck issue is a problem that the streetcar can help fix. “If anything, this is a catalyst to get it done and get it done better,” he says.