June 26, 2010

NCPC Chair Bryant asks FTA to deny DC streetcar grant

If you're Preston Bryant, the chair of the National Capital Planning Commission and an economic and infrastructure consultant in Richmond, yes it is. Bryant sent a letter to FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff asking the agency "to withhold federal funds from the District" for the streetcar system. The H Street-Benning Road line would not involve federal funds, but DC is looking for an "urban circulator" grant to extend the planned streetcar across the Anacostia River to Benning Road Metro. This segment would almost entirely lie outside the L'Enfant City, the only area that has ever had a ban on overhead wires. That means that Bryant is asking FTA to refuse to fund a project which is legal even without changing any laws.

NCPC is tasked with protecting the "federal interest." The federal government, and NCPC, have taken very little interest in most of the District's planned streetcar corridors, including H Street and Benning Road, Georgia Avenue, and neighborhoods in Wards 7 and 8. Items that impact the Mall and views of major monuments are generally agreed to be part of the federal interest, and DC has clearly offered to protect those. The updated draft of the DC Council's overhead wire legislation even more clearly protects these. All new streetcar purchases will be required by law to operate for one mile without wires, and the Council will need to approve any new segments including a plan detailing the potential impacts on view corridors or historic districts.

However, Bryant is not satisfied with that or even giving NCPC heightened power to guard against wires on their view corridors (even though NCPC seems relatively uninterested in other blights on their view corridors). He has asked the DC Council to give NCPC the right to review and approve every single streetcar segment, no matter where in the District, even outside the L'Enfant City. SOURCE: Greater Greater Washington

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's stunning that we're debating over re-implementing an obsolete, 19th-century era transportation system. DC effed up the H St/Benning Corridor when they started ripping it up in 2007 - it has yet to recover.

If they want to be cost effective, have metro put a new station at the intersection of Benning Road and the Metro Line that crosses it. They can put it right at the parking lot for RFK or across the bridge at the Power Plant.