Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Streetcar process in DC

Image of options for providing H Street streetcar connections to Union Station from H Street, from the Washington City Paper.

The City Paper has an online ("When Will the Streetcar Get its Own Agency?") and print story ("Slow Train: D.C. streetcars keep hitting speedbumps. How are they going to get where they're going?") about the state of streetcar planning for H Street, and the debacle over providing a direct connection to Union Station.

Basically, the city's equivocation f*ed up getting a reasonably direct streetcar connection to Union Station on H Street.

I would argue that there is still time to right this, but the city would have to step up and really work it. Given it has taken 8 years to get the various parties together on a restoration of the front plaza of Union Station (see "Columbus Plaza to Finally Get Its Facelift" also from the City Paper), if you don't take a hardcore and strong position, it's not going to happen.

(Note that I remember talking to Rachel MacCleery, then the Ward 6 transportation planner for DDOT about the need for this project back in 2004.)

Note that in fairness to DC, it took Portland about 11 years to get their first streetcar line in operation, although it took Seattle about 6 years ("Allen envisions streetcars serving South Lake Union" from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2002; wikipedia).

Streetcar service at Washington Union Station, 1957. Photo: Joe Testagrose Collection
DC Transit streetcar at Union Station

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