Saturday, August 22, 2009

Streetcar Action: via Barry Farm (re)Mixed

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Streetcars? Who has them? Seattle, Los Angeles, Charlotte, New Orleans, Portland, San Francisco, Tampa. . . and D.C. Or at least "soon" enough.

Why should Barry Farm be excited about the streetcar? Because studies have shown streetcars stablize communities and promote neighborhood improvements. Development is much more likely to occur in areas containing a fixed transit improvement rather than a bus which can be moved at any time. In other words, a fixed transit improvement represents a long term commitment to broad based connections to other parts of the area.

The most often cited economic development benefit of streetcars is Portland. Portland's service was opened in 2001 and has resulted in a development-to-transit-ratio of 18:1. In other words, every $1 spent on the streetcar resulted in $18 of development in the immediate area. Memphis, Tennessee, implemented a similar streetcar in 1993 and now estimates to-date development activities because of the streetcar at more than $2 billion.

Want to see an example of streetcar success and the surrounding development?
Take a Ride on the Seattle Streetcar. It's a short 4-5 minute video that I think you might enjoy. I did (but then again I can be a bit nerdy). And the Seattle Streetcar website is pretty cool too.

But on to more important stuff. The Anacostia Streetcar Project. The problem? I haven't heard much about it. Everyone is talking about Benning Rd and their streetcar developments. And rightly so, check their progress:

I mean, wow. Bada bam, bada boom--yea, I'm impressed. So today I've been dedicated to figuring out what's going on with the Anacostia Streetcar. All I have to say is, if ye seek, ye shall find.

First things first. The Anacostia Streetcar Alignment plan (courtesy of DDOT):

The alignment will begin at the Maintenance Facility running north into Firth Sterling Avenue to Howard Road and the Anacostia Metro Station. Turning north into Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, it will continue through Historic Anacostia and terminate at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road. The tracks will extend across the 11th Street Bridge once the new bridge opens.

What the DC streetcar will look like:

And a nifty little video DDOT put together back in 2006 about the streetcar and why we should have it. It's about 12 minutes long, but interesting. Watch Video: Transit Futures – The Washington Streetcar.

In early August, the Washington Business Journal did a story on the revival of the D.C. Streetcar Plan. You can read that here. In that article they point out that work has started along South Capitol Street. And well you guessed it, they are right on point. Haven't I been commenting on the construction happening along Firth Sterling Avenue? Or rather wondering what was going on? In addition to the confirming images below (Firth Sterling Avenue) and my aimless wandering around trying to make sense of concrete barriers and construction signage, I finally found some helpful information.

The last time I visited DDOT's web page there was not much information on the Anacostia Streetcar Project, but somebody has been updating. More importantly, it appears that DDOT will be providing updates for every week they work on it. If you click here, you will be able to pick a status report going back to March 2009 when the project started.

The latest update is for August 7th and it states that "the installation of electrical manholes and combined system duct-bank on Firth Sterling/South Capitol is nearing completion. Street light foundation installations are progressing well. Installation of new sidewalk along the east side of South Capitol Street has begun and is [also] progressing well. Sub-grade preperations for the new track slab continue along South Capitol Street as well as OCS foundation installations..." What has been happening since then? "Sub-grade preparations for the new track slab along South Capitol Street. Installation of new storm drain lateral piping along with new catch basins/water quality inlets, and grate inlets will continue for the new road work along South Capitol and Firth Sterling Streets as well as the installation of electrical manholes and combined system duct-bank. OCS foundation installations and roadway excavation along the SE side of Firth Sterling to begin . . ."

The report also comments that the orginial contract value is $24,994,526.28 No complaints about the District's investment coming from this peanut gallery commentor.


Brandon Green said...

it'd be great for Washington, DC, to have streetcars.

anacostiaque said...

It's about time. Personally, I'm tired of hearing about it so it's good to see some action.

Lay the tracks and get 'er done already....

DC Socialite said...

I wrote a post about this too. I agree it is nice to see some action taking place. although I heard it is not scheduled to be done until 2012.

return home gnome said...

I am very excited about the street cars being put in around DC and do agree that they will help improve things. But I did get to wondering if those "studies" were accurate. Rarely are street cars put in simply "questionable" areas; more often than not, they are installed in areas that are already referred to as "up and coming" or "revitalized", etc. So I guess I'm wondering what you think: do street cars really provide stability? or do they just augment a strong trend that is already rolling along well on its own?