D.C. Council may find streetcar funds
(District Department of Transportation)
3 p.m. Update: Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) will announce in a few minutes that the city has found enough money to restore the street car program that was poised to be stripped of $49 million to help balance the budget and help fund other projects.
-- Nikita Stewart
Noon Update: The District purchased three streetcars for $10 million more than three years ago for a future streetcar network and is storing them at Metro's Greenbelt rail yard. The cars were kept for several years in the Czech Republic, where they were made.
Earlier this month, the District held a "streetcar showcase " on the site of the old Washington Convention Center in Northwest Washington and invented the public to tour one of the streetcars.
Metro had been scheduled to consider purchasing six additional street cars for the District during a meeting Thursday of its board of directors. The purchase was being made on behalf of the District, and Metro would not incur any cost. It was unclear Wednesday afternoon how the council's decision would affect the Metro action.
Original post: The D.C. Council Wednesday approved stripping funds designated to bring streetcar service back to the city in an effort to close a $550 million budget gap.
The vote effectively delays the launch of the streetcars. The council still must vote on the change when it votes on the full budget later today.
The council voted to take $49 million for street car system and distribute it among other projects.
Gabe Klein, director of the District Department of Transportation, was lobbying furiously to save the funds from being redistributed.
"It will essentially kill the program," he said. "If they kill it, basically, it goes on ice."
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.
-- Nikita Stewart and Mike DeBonis
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