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Posted at 3:25 PM ET, 05/26/2010

Funding restored for D.C. streetcars

By Washington Post editors

UPDATE:
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray said he has worked with the office of the Chief Financial Officer to come up with money that would allow the city to restore funding for streetcars.

Gray spokeswoman Doxie McCoy said $10 million would be made available immediately to purchase street cars in fiscal 2011. Another $37 million would be place in reserve pending an operations and funding proposal from Mayor Adrian Fenty. The council would then have to approve the proposal.

The decision to restore funding came just hours after the council said they would pull money from the streetcars to fund other services. But within moments of the decision, the council was inundated with calls.

-- Nikita Stewart

D.C. streetcars coming back?
3:00 p.m.

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) is expected to announce Wednesday that the city has found enough money to restore funding for street car service in the District. Earlier Wednesday, the council approved taking $49 million from the streetcars to use to balance city's budget and help fund other projects. That vote effectively delayed the launch of the streetcars by two years.

-- Nikita Stewart


D.C. Council strips funds for streetcars
11:55 a.m.

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

By Washington Post editors  | May 26, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  DC, Traffic and Transportation  | Tags:  DC Council, streetcars  
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Comments

WOW!!! So the now useless tracks and the traffic nightmare that some of us have been dealing with on Benning Rd. and H St. NE while they have been laying those now useless tracks have all been for NOTHING??!?!?

Give me a break.

Posted by: Pat_E | May 26, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Mike, it would be helpful to write who voted what way instead of "Council"

Posted by: janowicki | May 26, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The DC Clowncil voted to distribute the money to other projects! Which ones? More dog parks? Or pehaps, Fenty could'nt give any of the streetcar funds to one of cronies.

Posted by: CubsFan | May 26, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

This probably all went to a grant to "Thugs-aholics" or Fenty's "fraternity" brothers or for more useless "all hands on deck" give-aways to the FOP.

Posted by: blankspace | May 26, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Sorry kiddies. From talking to Council folks about this, it was all Vince Gray in a trick unilateral maneuver pulled at 2am this morning.

Posted by: janowicki | May 26, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

From Tommy Wells:


I’m arguing against these cuts to the streetcar system and just voted against the budget because of it. There is a final vote later this afternoon and I have an amendment ready to introduce to restore some of the funds.

Please keep calls and emails to my colleagues coming.

Tommy

ALSO, according to a letter to a commenter at H Street Great Street, Wells and Evans voted against the budget this morning.

Posted by: ctrlaltdc | May 26, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Cutting streetcar funding? Is the DC Council under Gray absolutely insane? The voters want the streetcars. We own the streetcars. We've laid miles of track. Businesses are counting on the streetcars for growth. The streetcars make DC look like a smart, progressive place. That fact attracts talent and money just by itself. Cutting the streetcar funding must be the single stupidest decision since Barry was the mayor. Cutting the streetcar funding is bad for EVERYBODY.

Posted by: wilsonphilips | May 26, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Preview of a Gray administration. That's leadership?

Posted by: Daffodil123 | May 26, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Gray makes Barry look rational.

Posted by: awshux | May 26, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

It's amazing how this government can declare "too broke to proceed" and then "find" funding on the same day. Is this the same slight of hand that removed/restored/removed funding for the DCPS teacher raises?

Posted by: logosdesigns | May 26, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Street cars might be a great idea, but the city has buses and trains in abundance. If there is a budget shortfall, why does the city need them this year? You can have what you don't have the money to buy. And taxes are too high already.

Posted by: john_boffa | May 26, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The question I have is where is this money that they've found coming from. If the city is cash strapped enough to need to make budget cuts, where are they taking the money from anyway?

Posted by: poeticfire | May 26, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

For someone running for mayor, that was a bad move, Mr. Gray.

Posted by: redgrifn | May 26, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

@ wilsonphilips;I knew it would not take long for some IDIOT to spew his vile, racist hate of Marion Barry, even though he has nothing to do with this issue.

Whether you are for or against street cars in DC, residents have the right to have an apposing point of view. I am against streetcars because I am originally from Philadelphia and have grown up with streetcars and they are not the saving grace for economic growth that is being proposed. If metro is hurting for money and ridership along these business corridors has not improved then what exactly will a street car do other than make traffic patterns worse in the neighborhoods of folk who are so upset about the streetcars. What about Rosedale Rec, Eliot/Hine JHS and Eastern SHS, why no funding for these issues that directly affect the neighborhood.

Posted by: lacairaine | May 26, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Doing the math, this system is costing $2,500 for every man, woman, and child in the District. Not per household. Not per tax payer. PER HUMAN. To think that there would ever be an economic payback from such an expense is madness when we have buses already in place that can run the same routes, and without the ugly overhead wires. B

Posted by: George210 | May 26, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

To use Gray's over used statement "this is so disingenious" I know that Gray did this because the Ward 6 constituents are favoring Fenty. Believe me if the tracks had disrupted Minnesota Avenue or Texas Avenue for that matter...the plan would have been fully funded and never interrupted.

Old-school will always produce old-ways no doubt. What was Gray's theme song...when he kicked-off his campaign "Let's get it on" here's the remix version "Let's get it on, by voting for Fenty"

The only concession to this scenario...if H Street NE is supposedly going to be the "new" Georgetown east version of the District...well there's no streetcars in that historic district either.

Honestly...hold on to your seats it is gonna be "bumpy night."

Posted by: PowerandPride | May 26, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

@George You're math is as fuzzy as your aesthetic judgment. This is infrastructure, not an art installation, and will be used for decades, and not just by DC residents, but by millions of tourists a year. You also ignore the millions of $ in tax revenue that businesses will generate due to increased sales or the benefits from higher home values due to higher property taxes. And to be totally clear, Gray wanted to SPEND MORE on this than originally planned, by adding years of study and drawing out the project even further. Lastly, it is being funded in large part by federal stimulus funds, not DC taxes. So suck it up about the "ugly wires" (have you ever even been to NE?), unless you prefer smog. Derail Gray!

Posted by: awshux | May 26, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Several comments suggest that there is an abundance of trains and buses in Washington. Have any of you ventured down to H Street in the last year? Do any of you own businesses in the city? You're living in fantasy land. Streetcars are good for the city, they're good for business, they'll have a positive impact on the local economy and tourism, and it was a show of pure idiocy and fiscal irresponsibility to remove it from the budget. Millions have been spent, the project has been under way for nearly a year, investors and business owners made purchase decisions based on that project, it needs to be done.

Posted by: NewspaperReader1 | May 26, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@George210 Have you ridden a bus on H Street, lately? Say the X2? It's a nightmare. Each morning I have taken it, at least every other bus is too over-crowded to board. I've considered driving into downtown rather than deal with the mess that is the X2. Streetcars are a necessary addition to a busy corridor and a populated neighborhood that is not served well enough by metro or bus service.

Posted by: HStreet | May 26, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Remembering Gray's campaign slogan of four years ago: "One City," spanning Rock Creek, bridging the Anacostia. Streetcars between wards 6 and 7 fit in perfectly. Lucky save, thanks to all the calls and emails.

Posted by: lisaswanson | May 26, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if District residents know that the DDOT has an entire administration dedicated to street cars? I mean, that is all they do all day at 100k+ per year.

Ohhh, better, did you know that your tax dollars are being used to pay for the Harvard degree of its administrator, Scott Kubly (retroactively) meaning, the city is covering his bills for time before he even became a city employee.

Sweet, right?

The glory of being a friend of Adrian M. Fenty.

Hopefully this tidal wave of fiscal waste will be over beginning in September.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | May 26, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Guess this generation is not old enough to remember that street cars are not the romantic panacea they believe.

They are hot, noisy, and ugly beasts that crash into cars at crossings and otherwise overburden a road system that is already at capacity. They also cost more to operate than a bus.

Street cars are not the answer - just another tax burden.

Posted by: b1978367 | May 26, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

think I have a little to contribute since I work both to promote Vince Gray and H Streeti n full disclosure. The streetcars have already received a great deal of money so no one is suggestion to stop. That would throw all the money already spent into the toilet. Something like 1.5 billion dollars will be spent when this is all said and done...... See Moreand a lot has already been.

The Street Cars WILL not be finished at the 2012 deadline Gabe Klein DDOT gave. To his credit he is pretty much honest when he says we do not know how the energy source will work, nor the historic preservation issues( you are not allowed to have overhead wires in DC in our downtown and that is the current propose system) and some access issues have not been worked out. So seeing that the money slated for streetcars will not be used and what they tried to put on paper what they know in reality and move the funds to operations goals since those bills for the streetcar due to the delay will not come due. What the council did is put 5 million dollars into planning and review--because those answers need to come forward. . So if they planned to kill it that is a 5 million dollar rouse.So I doubt that was the case The current position is more an elucidation of the reality. IT is not going to be finished when they said it...and the mayor has to be CLEAR on the things that they have kicked the can.

And for the person who sees Ward 6 favors Fenty 1 the Streetcars cuts through 3 wards including Ward 7 you git...and according to new polls Fenty is losing in ward 6. Hence this crazy astroturfing.

Posted by: 411Tibby | May 27, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Lets me break it down for you in simple terms.

When all is said and done one the District will spend or commit 1.5 billion dollars to laying the Streetcar that will serve 3 wards and span few miles and operate at a loss for the first couple years.

So no one was going to walk away from the money already invested.

There are critical questions that there are no answers for:


How are you going to provide energy?
Currently undetermined.

How are you going to deal with historic preservation issues with overhead line
Currently undetermined

How are you going to deal with access issues-connecting to metro, Amtrak, homeland security currently undetermine.

But when you ask Glabe Klein or Tommy Wells when the track will be finished they say 2012. BS......and that is why the money was routed to extra planning ...

Posted by: 411Tibby | May 27, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

@ wilsonphilips;I knew it would not take long for some IDIOT to spew his vile, racist hate of Marion Barry, even though he has nothing to do with this issue.

Whether you are for or against street cars in DC, residents have the right to have an apposing [sic] point of view.

....

Posted by: lacairaine


--------------

lacairaine,
Wow, you'll trot out the race card for anything. Please don't cry wolf about something as important as racism; we need to keep it real in order to be heard when it is matters.

"Cutting the streetcar funding must be the single stupidest decision since Barry was the mayor." is in no way racist. A bit exaggerated, sure, but in no way racist. You are right, regardless of the issue, everyone has a right to express their opinion. Marion Barry, regardless of his accomplishments, and that he is re-elected despite his current ineffectiveness and history has a net negative impact on the image of the city--and yes this is significant to and affects all of us.

Posted by: streff | May 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

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