Those who stopped at the Sierra Club table to sign the petition expressed disappointment about the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) failure to reach a deal with Amtrak for use of the H Street tunnel to connect the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line to the Union Station Metro station, which has effectively delayed the start date for the line by more than a year until late 2013. DDOT is now considering three fallback options, none of which is as attractive. Streetcar supporters voiced different views about which of these fallback options they prefer, but they agreed that the public should have a voice in helping decide which of these three options DDOT will pursue.As he was making the rounds at the festival, Mayor Gray stopped by the table briefly to talk about streetcars. He touted the fact that DDOT recently announced that the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line will open in mid-2013. When I reminded him that until earlier this year the opening date was slated for spring 2012, he responded that he cannot control Amtrak. At its table several blocks down H Street, DDOT was handing out a flyer also promoting the mid-2013 start date for this first streetcar line. While D.C.’s H Street-Benning Road line will not be running for nearly two years, a team of creative, artistic people designed and deployed their own peddle-powdered streetcar vehicle, which ran on the tracks up and down H Street throughout the festival. Also of note, H Street business owner Joe Englert was selling streetcar t-shirts that read “Keep H Street Rolling” followed by a colorful parenthetical.
H Street Festival on Saturday, Sierra Club volunteers collected more than 250 signatures from streetcar supporters calling on Mayor Vincent Gray to “seek public input on key decisions about D.C.’s streetcar system – including how the western terminus of the H Street-Benning Road line will connect to a Metrorail station – so that future riders are involved in ensuring that the system will be successful.” The petition signers also urge Gray “to keep D.C. residents informed about the progress toward implementation, including by describing challenges the District Department of Transportation is facing and the reasons for any delays.”At the
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