Roller Coaster Ride for D.C. Streetcars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    DDOT
    This is the type of streetcar DDOT hopes to use in the District.

    The headlines showed doom and gloom for D.C.'s burgeoning streetcar business.

    From the Business Journal: "D.C. axes H Street streetcar from budget"

    From Greater Greater Washington: "Breaking: Gray cuts streetcars"

    From D.C. Wire: "Council votes to strip funds for streetcars"

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    Ah yes, the death march of the Rice-a-Roni taxi was on.

    But wait! Could it be? A last-second save? It appears so...

    Hot off the press, from Jim Graham's Twitter feed:

    "After careful deliberations and explanations and conversations, another $47 million was found to fund the streetcars. Ain't politics grand?"

    Grand, indeed, fine council member.

    Need more proof? From Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis's Twitter machine:

    "Amendment will be moved at legislative meeting, which just started, to restore most funding to streetcar program. Details to come."

    The deets, courtesy Nikita Stewart:

    "$10 million would be made available immediately to purchase streetcars in fiscal 2011. Another $37 million would be placed in reserve pending an operations and funding proposal from Mayor Adrian Fenty. The council would then have to approve the proposal."

    So apparently we can ignore the e-mail that showed up in our inbox less than 30 minutes earlier titled: "Streetcars are moving forward...They Are NOT Dead."

    The e-mail was from Council Chairman Vincent Gray's office. In it, he said the following:

    "We can’t afford to adopt the Mayor’s approach of 'build now and plan later,' which only results in poor outcomes and much higher costs in the end. Comprehensive planning, transportation and engineering work needs to be done, and the Council has allocated $5 million to complete the planning process necessary to give us the most efficient use of our dollars. I have every intention of moving forward with streetcars however, we need to use some of the dollars for more immediate capital projects, like renovation of middle schools."

    We'll also ignore the part of the e-mail that says the FY 2010 budget would provide $3 million to "development of operating, capital, and finance plans and preliminary engineering to better determine alternatives and costs for the initial lines and an entire system of streetcars."

    And we'll ignore the part about the FY 2011 budget that would provide "an additional $2 million in funding to support the Streetcar connection to Union Station," as well as the "$2 million more in capital funds in FY 10 & 11 for the Office of Planning to prepare a Streetcar Master Land Use Plan."

    That streetcar slowdown is moot with the $47 million. As a matter of fact, let's just forget the whole thing ever happened.

    Ain't politics grand?