Monday, June 18, 2012


Big streetcar news was announced quietly on a Saturday by the DC Department of Transportation:  DDOT has awarded a partnership of M.C. Dean, Inc. and Facchina Construction the design-construction contract for the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line.

Dean-Facchina will build the western and eastern termini of the route, the overhead catenary that will deliver power to the streetcars, and the Benning Road-26th Street, NE car barn.

Work will begin immediately once DDOT issues the paperwork, pending council approval, according to Director Terry Bellamy.  The timing will keep the streetcar on schedule to start service in late 2013.

If you're a streetcar fan, you've got to be excited just to hear a phrase like "car barn" again.

Much like the Purple Line (and at one time, the light rail concept of the now-ruined Corridor Cities Transitway) here in Montgomery County, the H Street streetcar is a targeted expenditure, bringing the benefits of rail transit to serve a route expected to grow in density.

Contrast that with the scattershot boondoggle known as Montgomery County BRT, which duplicates existing Metro routes, lacks the density to support it according to the county's own master planner, is slower and costlier than rail, and has no responsible financing.

With BRT, the county is literally going off the rails.  And wasting money that could have been better spent on a light rail CCT, on its own right-of-way as originally planned.  Or purchasing more Red Line or MARC capacity.  Or funding a new parking lot at the Boyds MARC station, where more commuters actually want to take the train, but have no parking!

Or cooperating with DC on restarting the streetcar line from Georgetown out to Glen Echo.

We still have the right-of-way for the whole Glen Echo route; do we have the leadership to create a modern transportation system in Montgomery County?

BRT rush-to-ruin tells serious transit advocates we don't.

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