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Posted at 7:09 PM ET, 10/20/2010

Don't be dense about D.C. trolleys

By editors

By Meg Maguire

Roger K. Lewis pointed out the benefits of the District’s new light-rail system: connecting neighborhoods and boosting the investment confidence of property owners, developers and lenders [“Are trolley lines more than just a fashionable bit of nostalgia?,” Real Estate, Oct. 9]. However, increasing density for several blocks on either side of streetcar lines, as he suggested, should alarm homeowners in residential and historic neighborhoods, including around H Street, Eighth Street and Michigan Avenue NE; 14th Street NW and Georgia Avenue; and in Anacostia, Woodley Park, Brookland and Takoma Park.

The city needs a more nuanced approach to transit development in keeping with our historic land-use patterns: It should concentrate on single-avenue commercial and mixed-use corridors to serve adjacent communities (characteristic of the District, Chicago and New York, among others) while carefully targeting some locations for greater development to strengthen, not destabilize, the city’s beloved neighborhoods.

The writer is chairman of the transportation subcommittee of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City.

By editors  | October 20, 2010; 7:09 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., traffic, transportation  
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Well stated. Takoma Park fought off a plan to flatten it for a freeway back in the 1960s-70s. When the Purple Line light rail came along, the Takoma Park managed to shift the plan outside of its borders. Then the Md. Transit Admin. came up with plans that would have taken homes in Silver Spring for the trackbed. The current plan is not as threatening to homes for the trackbed, but has terrible implications for rezoning. MD has doubled the area around stations for transit-oriented development zoning, from a quarter-mile to a half-mile. And there is always fear that an "overlay" zone will be proposed for other places. Even the threat of rezoning pits neighbor against neighbor. Lots of places in the USA have virtually no public transit. Federal funds should got for bus systems for those places. Rail is primarily a rezoning scheme.

Posted by: catbird500 | October 21, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Really? The city's beloved neighborhoods? Look, I love the H Street corridor- lived a few blocks north of H for several years before the area began revitalizing. Let's not pretend this is a beloved historic neighborhood that might be negatively impacted by increasing density. When I moved there in 2003, there were burned out buildings, vacant lots, shuttered storefronts everywhere. There is potential for growth in that area, without crowding out current residents, and I can't see how anyone could think that additional tranportation could destabilize that particular neighborhood. It will provide more transit options for residents. There's just no negative in that particular neighborhood, other than bad traffic during the construction phase.

Posted by: MCM1 | October 21, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The DC street car plan isn't light rail. Light rail doesn't mix with traffic (not as much at least) like streetcars do. Second, by adding streetcar and transit options in DC and increasing density the city gains a larger tax base and more land is preserved in exurban/rural areas because more people live closer to downtown. DC used to have streetcars it is doing the historically sensitive thing by going back to them and similarly encouraging a more pedestrianized lifestyle

Posted by: cmerchan | October 21, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

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