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Alex Baca reporting from Trinidad:
Yesterday evening, Wheatley Elementary’s gymnasium played host to community members, ANC commissioners, transit aficionados, and city councilmembers for an update on DDOT’s progress to date on the long-awaited streetcars. A few more details emerged (Greater Greater Washington has the rundown) but on the most contentious issue—overhead wires—DDOT officials could offer little in the way of resolution.
According to Director Gabe Klein, DDOT has almost completed its analysis plan of alternative propulsion systems, which would determine the viability of going without wires. And Associate Director Scott Kubly admitted there was a need to come to a compromise, promising that DDOT was committed to operating with or without them. But the audience was not pleased with the lack of a concrete solution, and Kubly shied away from stating the type of system—all-wired, underground-wired, or a combination of the two—the District was likely to see. With the exception of one question (Kubly suggested the staunch preservationist “write his representative”), there was little evidence of much anti-wire sentiment.
A few audience members grumbled over DDOT’s timeframes for construction, which have shifted from 2011 to 2012, and the lack of compensation for H Street establishments that have lost revenue due to construction. Kubly brushed off a mention of a tax abatement—in the vein of the $25 million offered to entice Northrop-Grumman to the District—saying only that “the idea is to stage the construction to minimize the destruction that the community sees.”
As I headed back to the 90 bus stop on H and 8th Streets—one of the few close, current transit options for the H Street Corridor—a lifetime District resident and self-described “neighborhood legend” named Tyrone stopped me to chat about the meeting. He said he remembered riding the original streetcar system in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, and asked me where the route would run when construction was complete.