Proposed FY11 Budget Kills Streetcars

Photo courtesy of
‘DC Streetcar Front’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’
Last minute changes to the 2011 District budget include the elimination of the District’s up-and-coming streetcar program. The changes, submitted to the Council by Chair Vincent Gray (D) at 2 AM last night, remove funding for the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line. Greater Greater Washington broke the news this morning, noting that Sarah Campbell, Gray’s director of capital projects had long been pushing to kill the streetcar program.

The streetcar program has faced many obstacles, including a concern over the use of overhead wires. A local advocacy group, the Committee of 100, has been an outspoken opponent of overhead wires, calling for more expensive wireless technology. Ms. Campbell has personal ties to Meg Maguire, the leader of the Committee of 100′s campaign against the streetcars. It’s unclear if that relationship had any influence on this decision.

The streetcar project aimed to help accelerate the revival of the H Street corridor. Construction has been underway on the line, and proximity to the streetcar is already being touted in real estate listings. This news has already blown up across the Internet, with many transit advocates and H Street residents showing outrage and stating they will now vote for Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) in the upcoming Democratic primary–where Vincent Gray is also a candidate.

Dave has been following DC news and politics for nearly eight years and previous authored the blog “Why I Hate DC.” Dave tries to give a voice to those frustrated by the “politics as usual” in the area. By day he works in the technology department of a non-profit, by night he writes about news and politics and works at a local hardware store. Dave is also a contributor for Greater Greater Washington. You can follow him on Twitter or read his personal blog.

16 thoughts on “Proposed FY11 Budget Kills Streetcars

  1. wow, spending all this money on construction and tearing up H Street only to wipe out the project after all the work already completed.

    yet another reason to vote against Gray.

  2. Maybe those safety nets aren’t so necessary after all? Streetcars, safety nets: choose one.

  3. I’d disagree that it’s an A or B choice here, streetcars or safety net. If that’s the case, I’d like to see more discussion of dog parks versus safety net, tax incentives for new retail (e.g. Costco) versus safety net, so on and so forth.

    Certain ‘luxury’ budget items make sense to cut at crunch time, but something that already has infrastructure built and vehicles purchased just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  4. Except for the fact that they’re the “gift that keeps on giving”… we’ll have to pay to finish the construction, including putting in terminals/stops, power infrastructure, and then paying to *operate* it, which if I understand, will be on the back of the budget since it’s not going to be a revenue-positive operation.

    You can certainly make the argument that long-term it’ll be revenue-positive as tax assessments rise, but that’s a long, slow climb, and the city is in what you might describe as “budget crisis” at the moment.

  5. I took down my Fenty yard sign, pending my decision on whether to support Fenty or Gray. Thanks for helping that decision! My Fenty yard sign will go back up today!

  6. So…they’ll let all that construction on H Street go for nothing? Unlikely. I bet someone’s going to wake up and grow a brain.

  7. Huge amount of H Street construction was going to happen anyway. They just decided to do the rails while they were doing everything else they wanted to do as part of the streetscape project.

  8. This does not suprise me.This is why I will continue to support Mayor Fenty. The changes in the District are positive. This guy wants to halt it, I wonder why..Another Barry

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