D.C.'s Planned 37-Mile Street Car System in Jeopardy - NBC4 Washington

D.C.'s Planned 37-Mile Street Car System in Jeopardy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    DC Streetcar System Could Be Dramatically Scaled Back

    News4's has learned that the District's troubled streetcar system could be dramatically scaled back even before the first paying passenger steps on board. Tom Sherwood reports on the growing skepticism that could result in cutbacks as early as this Spring. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015)

    Though the D.C. Street Car system has yet to see a paying passenger, News4 has now learned the entire system -- 39 miles of planned track -- is in jeopardy.

    Only a fraction of what was initially planned to be an 8-line system will be built, while the first stretch along H Street NE has yet to open.

    "I really do think we need to step back, look at what we're doing, and consider it," D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh said. "I don't think we should just forge ahead."

    Cheh said she wants Mayor Muriel Bowser and the city council to discuss scaling back the commitment before the next city budget this spring.

    "The budget itself [will signal] what the commitment may be," she said.

    Several council members privately told News4 they would support cutting back or even ending the street car project. Last year, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson slashed millions of dollars in future funding. 

    Bowser, who has instead praised express bus service over the street car, said she would review the street car effort.

    "I believe changes need to be made in how we approach the program ... in the past, [D.C. Department of Transportation] has approached this issue in an ad hoc and inconsistent manner," DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo said. 

    Council sources said one proposal would complete the planned line from H Street NE to Georgetown and a second line to Anacostia. Little other development is expected.