Overhead wires bill passes D.C. council
(This post has been updated)
The D.C. city council today approved emergency legislation that will allow construction of the streetcar line along Benning Road and H Street Northeast to move forward with overhead power lines on that corridor and create a "public process" for determining whether overhead wires are acceptable on other parts of the planned system.
It repeals a 19th-century federal prohibition on the wires, but reinstates a ban at the local level on the wires in historic neighborhoods, including Georgetown, and tourist areas.
The move was, well, down to the wire. On Monday, the Post reported that L. Preston Bryant Jr., chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, asked the FTA to withhold federal funds for the streetcar system until "I am able to communicate with you regarding a successful resolution of the issues" surrounding the 19th-century laws.
"We have several legal opinions that DC has the full legal and legislative authority to change these laws and establish them within DC Code," said Charles Allen, chief of staff to council member Tommy Wells, in an e-mail to the Post's Lisa Rein.
The legislation--a permanent version of which will be voted on in two weeks--requires the mayor to periodically review whether segments powered by wires could be converted to battery or other alternative power, and report to the council.
Wells said that the planning commission wanted veto power over any legislation and that he and his colleagues would not agree to it. "They wanted that from the very beginning so I don't see any change," he said, according to the Post's Jonathan O'Connell.
"Today's action brings local control and accountability to the District as it continues the development of the streetcar transportation system to better connect neighborhoods and support local economic development," said Wells, a member of Committee on Public Works & Transportation, in a statement.
Original post: D.C. Ward 6 council member Tommy wells just tweeted that the council has unanimously passed an emergency "measure allowing overhead wires on H St Benning" for the city's streetcar project.
| June 29, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories: Advisories, Commuting, District, Transportation Politics
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