Wires Could Be Obstacles for DC Streetcars

  • April 6th 2010

by Mark Wellborn

Wires Could Be Obstacles for DC Streetcars: Figure 1

The long-awaited DC streetcar project may have hit a snag, according to The Washington Post. The cars will likely need overhead electrical wires in order to operate and that is drawing the ire of some city preservationists. The wires are also illegal, according to a very archaic law.

From The Post:

Wire opponents, from local preservation groups to the National Capital Planning Commission, want streetcars that draw electricity from buried batteries or power strips. On their side is an 1889 federal law banning overhead electrification in Georgetown and the original center city design by Pierre L’Enfant in 1791, bounded by the Potomac and Anacostia waterfronts north to Florida Avenue.

The master plan is that DC will eventually have eight streetcar routes including a line along H Street NE where the track work has already begun. Lines will eventually also run along 7th Street and Georgia Avenue, and Minnesota Avenue between Anacostia and the Minnesota Avenue Metro.

In an effort to meet preservationists halfway, DDOT head Gabe Klein is proposing a system that would operate on wires outside of “the federal city” or rather much of downtown and lose the wires in favor of battery power inside the city. DC Council member Tommy Wells plans to take a more direct measure. Later this month, he will introduce a bill to overturn the ban on streetcar wires as well as change the old definition of downtown.

Needless to say, this project is now almost too big to fail.

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This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/wires_could_be_obstacles_for_dc_streetcars/1946.

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