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It’s more than just big, white, phallic buildings.

April 6, 2010

Insert "down to the wire" pun here.

Washington, D.C., could soon have a streetcar system … again.

The city was chock full of streetcars for about a century, until 1962 when Congress ordered buses to replace them as the auto industry was thriving. Hmm, why was a local public transportation decision made by a federal body? It’s a common occurrence in the District, because it’s our nation’s capital, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right.

Due to the efforts of local officials, momentum is picking up for the District Department of Transportation’s Streetcar project, which will, among other good things, link local neighborhoods more effectively than the commuter-oriented Metro system and help accommodate the projected 32-percent increase in transportation trips in the District by 2030.

In fact, the city’s already laying track, but now the project may be scrapped, because critics object to overhead electrical wires.

According to a Washington Post article I just read:

Similar wires are in use in Portland, Ore., Charlotte and a dozen other cities. But in Washington, the overhead system is being scorned by preservationists as outdated visual clutter inappropriate for a grand city of monuments and boulevards.

While there are some local preservation groups in the mix, it seems that it’s less District residents who are objecting and more organizations that exist to preserve the status and character of our nation’s capital.

According to the article, primary opponents of the streetcar plan include the National Capital Planning Commission (a federal agency) and the National Park Service. Meanwhile, the District’s own council members, and city planners are working hard for it.

So, again, a local public transportation decision is being made on a national level, and this is a mistake.

There is more to D.C. than the Mall and the monuments. There’s an actual community there, a community that has often suffered at the expense of decisions benefitting the “National Capital Region.”

We need to recognize that Washington, D.C., is not only a place where we make laws, honor war veterans, and take 8th-grade trips. It’s also a city, where D.C. residents live, work, and move.

But, of course, that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

Car-freely,
Amy

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. wendy permalink
    April 6, 2010 4:57 pm

    Check out “O Bus Solingen” on YouTube! My city is nearly famous for the public buses that run on electric lines strung throughout the city. The wires are noticeable, I can’t lie. But more noticeable is the lack of bus exhaust on most streets. When needed, the buses can also run on fuel, I am not sure what kind.

  2. wendy permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:03 pm

    and you have to see the really groovy bus turn-table! Evidently it is the only one in Europe. Instead of chopping down more trees to make a huge turn-around point, they designed a turning platform for buses! I love German engineering.

  3. avaerewyck permalink
    April 11, 2010 9:18 am

    Yeah, the Bus-Drehscheibe is pretty cool, Wendy. I remember you pointing that out to me in/near Solingen. I wonder how fast they bus drivers can make it go.

    Wow, I hadn’t realized Solingen was so famous for its buses. My favorite of the YouTube videos is this one:

    Includes footage of the bus turn-table along with some fine turn-table work for a jazzy soundtrack.

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