Streetcar in Portland. Photo by Fußgänger on Flickr.

In July, Jim Graham, Tommy Wells, and others on the DC Council were asking some questions about DDOT’s planned initial segment for the Anacostia Streetcar: Why does it run to nowhere?

From the Anacostia Metro, the proposed streetcar didn’t travel along Martin Luther King Avenue through Historic Anacostia with its residents who might use the streetcar, businesses that might benefit from the traffic, and development opportunities that the streetcar might stimulate.

Instead, the line ran the other direction, to forlorn South Capitol Street and the entrances to military installations representing no development opportunity whatsoever.

The only logical explanation was that DDOT was following the path of least resistance, running the streetcar in an area where no residents would object to it. That’s not a good reason, though. GGW commenters debated whether it was better to build a line now and get a network going ASAP, regardless of the merit of the particular alignment, or whether a lightly-used line would doom future plans.

We can stop debating it, because DDOT has decided to

move extend the line. Yesterday Last week, they sent the DC Council a request to reprogram the streetcar funds

some capital funds to build a line along Martin Luther King from Anacostia Metro to Good Hope Road. There will still be a small portion west from the Metro station, past Barry Farm and the DPW trash truck parking lot that will become the streetcar maintenance facility.


This may not be the exact routing, as I don’t yet have all the details of the proposal. But whatever the specifics, it’s much better. Hopefully DDOT can start building the line soon and lose little time in the engineering. We need a streetcar system in DC, and the sooner we get started, the sooner we can build public support for building and funding the rest of the system.

Correction: It looks like DDOT’s reprogramming request actually moves other money to add to, rather than move, the streetcar. If approved by the Council, the request would allow DDOT to keep the Bolling segment but run the line down MLK as well.

Correction 2, November 12: I was right the first time: DDOT will be removing the segment to Bolling. Here is the updated plan.

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.