Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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D.C. Council votes no, then yes, to fund $47 million streetcar project

The D.C. Council voted Wednesday to cut $49 million in funding for the District’s streetcar project but then recovered $47 million in funds for the new transportation venture just a few hours later.

The original 11-2 vote by the council rejected a $54 million proposal for streetcar funds by Mayor Adrian Fenty, allocating instead $7 million for the project.

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray eliminated streetcar funding in an effort to close a $550 million gap in the District’s budget. However, plans for streetcars on H Street and Benning Road already started, Gray’s office said Friday.

After identifying alternatives with the Chief Financial Officer, the council decided to borrow $12.5 million from construction funds to procure three cars for H Street and Benning Road. In addition, $34.5 million will be borrowed next year, allocating $47 million toward the streetcar project.

Similar transportation systems in Portland, Oregon have brought “positive economic and transportation impact on communities,” according to a statement released by Gray’s office said. He said he is still fully committed to creating a streetcar system in D.C., but there must be adequate planning, transportation and engineering work.

“But we owe it to ourselves to have a well thought out planning process,” Gray said. “We can’t afford to adopt the Mayor’s approach of ‘build now and plan later,’ which only results in poor outcomes and much higher costs in the end.

During the planning phase, Gray hopes to spend the extra dollars on projects that “desperately” need capital, such as middle school renovations.

The 37-mile streetcar network is expected to be completed in 2030.

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