Several recent developments warrant belated mention as they relate to the future of D.C.’s streetcars so here is a summary of what has happened in the last two weeks.
Notably, on December 22, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced in a press release that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) had awarded DDOT a $1 million grant “to study alternatives for extending a DC Streetcar line into the K Street Corridor[,]” allowing “DDOT to evaluate possible alignments as well as streetcar propulsion alternatives.” The press release hailed it as a “critical first step in securing federal funding for the streetcar system.”
The same day, it was announced that then-Chairman-elect (now Chairman) Kwame Brown was tapping Councilmember Tommy Wells, the leading Council advocate for streetcars, to chair the Committee on Public Works and Transportation and represent D.C. on the Metro Board of Directors, replacing Councilmember Jim Graham in both capacities. In a release, Wells stated the importance of a transit system that “links our neighborhoods and gives every resident the ability to get around beyond relying on a car.”
The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reported in his blog that Scott Kubly, who has been managing DDOT’s streetcar planning and implementation efforts for the last two years, is considering running in the April special election to fill the at-large Council seat vacated by Kwame Brown when he became Council Chairman earlier this week. The post also notes that Mayor Vincent Gray has asked Kubly to remain at DDOT on an “interim basis.”
Now former DDOT Director Gabe Klein, who has provided important leadership in getting D.C.’s streetcar planning and implementation off the ground, rode off into the sunset with a holiday bike ride with DDOT and WABA staff followed by a happy hour hosted by Greater Greater Washington on the winter solstice.
Mayor Gray has not yet announced who will succeed Klein as DDOT director, but TBD on Foot reported yesterday that Terry Bellamy, DDOT’s deputy director of operations, has been named interim director of DDOT until Gray makes a permanent selection.