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Gray: Street car program will move forward in future

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), who orchestrated a $50 million cut to the city's proposed street car program late Tuesday night without public input, is vowing he will move forward with the program at a later date.

Earlier Wednesday, the council agreed with Gray to cut most of the money from the budget to help pay for other needs, including Boys & Girls clubs. Secretary of Transportation Gabe Klein told D.C. Wire Gray's decision could "essentially kill" the street car program.

The District has already put down the first miles of track for the planned 37-mile streetcar network, estimated to cost $1.5 billion to complete. The first street car had been scheduled to run down H Street at end of next year.

Some transit and smart growth advocates are outraged over Gray's move, likely thrusting the streetcar issue into the mayor's race. Blogs such as DCist and Greater Greater Washington are running comments from people who say Gray's decision has convinced them to vote for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and some African-American community leaders have questioned the importance of the street car program, but it appeared to have broad support in Capitol Hill and parts of Northwest.

In a statement issued by his office this afternoon, Gray said, "Street cars are not dead."

"I am firmly committed to a new streetcar system in the District," said Gray, noting he's been to Portland, Oregon to view their system. "But we owe it ourselves to have a well thought out planning process. We can't afford the mayor's approach of 'build now and plan later', which only results in poor outcomes and much higher costs in the end."

Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) may introduce an amendment later Wednesday to try to restore some of Gray's cuts, his office said. If the program is not funded this year, advocates fear, it will be even harder for city officials to come up with the money next year. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance & Revenue Committee, told council members Wednesday they should brace for across-the-board 4 percent budget cuts next year.

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  May 26, 2010; 2:04 PM ET
Categories:  City Finances , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , transportation  
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Next: D.C. streetcars coming back?


Bye, Gray.

Posted by: 20009matt | May 26, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Why was this article printed by Tim Craig without knowing the facts???? The entire council was still in planning stages of how to workout this issue and make it work for all residents since this will be our tax dollars! Telling people incorrect information is not doing anyone justice. The council chair as well as the members are in favor of the streetcars!

Now if the mayor had not been giving his frat brothers all of our tax dollars the city wouldn't be BROKE!

Posted by: | May 26, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

People in DC know the difference between doing something and just continuing to plan forever. This thoughtful streetcar plan has been moving since before Vince Gray was ever elected to the council--when Vince Gray said he supported the idea. Even today, when he was about to kill it, he said he supported it. If Gray wins, the whole city will be stuck in planning purgatory.

Posted by: hungrypug | May 26, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Gray for Mayor!!!!

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | May 27, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Gabe Klein is a midget!

Posted by: Ward4DC | May 27, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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