It’s more than just big, white, phallic buildings.
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 But in Washington, the overhead system is being scorned by preservationists as outdated visual clutter inappropriate for a grand city of monuments and boulevards.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?