The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is soliciting feedback from industry experts on a proposed "22‐mile priority network" of streetcar lines, including one that would run from Union Station to Georgetown.
The Request for Information (RFI) released Tuesday seeks feedback from industry experts to guide DDOT's planning and could lead to a formal procurement process.
But DDOT was clear, at this point, the RFI is exploratory. "No contract or agreement will be entered into as a result of this process, nor does this RFI initiate a formal procurement."
Though DDOT has a 37-mile system proposed that would bring streetcars to all eight wards, the 22-mile priority system would focus on a smaller core within that larger 37-mile vision.
DDOT is just now beginning a detailed Alternatives Analysis for a proposed “One City Line” between Union Station and Georgetown. That process will allow DDOT to weigh the impacts of various modes of transportation, including buses and streetcars, along the route and the options for the actual path taken.
In the RFI, the route looks similar to the current Circulator bus path from Union Station along H Street to K Street and under the Whitehurst Freeway.
Ken Archer, a Georgetown resident and Greater Greater Washington editor, is also in favor of a Georgetown route, but would prefer one that runs straight down M Street. A K Street route, would likely make riders walk up the Wisconsin Avenue hill.
"Routing the Georgetown line on K Street under the Whitehurst instead of on M Street would be a big mistake. That would be as big a source of regret as is not having a Georgetown Metro station. We didn't think big enough then, and we need to avoid the same mistake this time around."
DDOT responded to a twitter inquiry from Patch about the route, saying it is not final and "would most likely be worked out in an environmental review process."
"Overall it would be desirable for Georgetown to have streetcar access," said Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bill Starrels. His primary concern is the overhead wire ban within the historic district.
The RFI briefly mentions the issue of overhead wires, stating that any streetcars procured "should be capable of off‐wire operation with a minimum distance capability of one‐mile."
Archer said that the off-wire issue is more a matter of time, than distance.
"We can have wireless streetcars on M Street if we create dedicated transit lanes for bus and streetcar usage," he wrote in an email to Patch.
Starrels said that generally the ANC would like Georgetown to be at the forefront of any new priority streetcar access.
Just as the Circulator brought new users to the bus, Starrels thinks the streetcar will draw in even more people to public transit. And that means getting more workers, shoppers and tourists "to and from Georgetown," said Starrels.