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The final agenda is now out for Thursday's meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission, and contained in it is a long document setting out the commission staff's recommendations for a vote on the design of the 11th Street Bridges.
For anyone interested in the bridges as a driver, bicyclist, pedestrian, water recreationist, neighbor, or construction enthusiast, it's a worthwhile read (even at 26 pages). To cut to the chase, the staff is recommending that the commission "comment favorably" on the designs for the bridges, even though the designs are still in the very early stages, and there's very little new in this document that we didn't see in the EIS or other releases. There's even mention of how the city's Comprehensive Plan envisions the eventual dismantling of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, but that the new bridges are needed until the time comes that I-395 comes down (i.e., far past the date I shuffle off this mortal coil).
However, they are not at all happy with DDOT's decision to choose a streetcar system with overhead wires, and the document goes into detail on how this works against federal interests, as well as listing what non-overhead-wire streetcar options exist out there (none in the US so far). Their conclusions (page 22):
"Recommends that DDOT not include streetcar system components for overhead wires as part of the 11th Street Bridge project and that DDOT prepare an environmental impact statement for its proposed District wide streetcar system that examines potential impacts on the L'Enfant City and Georgetown and that includes an analysis of propulsion systems that do not require the use of overhead wires.
"Advises DDOT that the Commission does not support a streetcar system with overhead wires because it supports the unobstructed views to important landmarks along the city's streets and avenues that are integral to the District's unique character and result from the long-standing federal statutory prohibition against using overhead wires in Washington City (the L'Enfant City) and Georgetown.
"Encourages DDOT to pursue alternative propulsion technologies for the proposed streetcar system that do not require overhead wires in accordance with its January 24, 2008 commitment to include dual vehicle propulsion requirements in a solicitation package for the development and implementation of the broader streetcar system beyond the Anacostia and H Street/Benning Road corridors."
The commission meeting when this recommendation will be voted on is Thursday (Sept. 3) at 12:30 pm.
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Edna Wellthorpe says: (9/1/09 9:54 AM)
I'm all for an underground power system for streetcars, but in cities with overhead power, you don't really even notice the wires. Take Vienna, Austria. There's a city with a lot more history and infinitely better buildings, and nobody says that the streetcar wires are ruining the views of historic structures. Take a chill, NCPC!


Ken says: (9/3/09 10:00 AM)
Why should Washington simply copy other cities - like Vienna - using old technology? Why not use new technology? The NCPC report says "Several European cities, most notably Bordeaux, are protecting their views and street aesthetics around important historic areas by developing and installing surface technology. The concept is that electric energy is provided through a surface line where the center rail is electrified only as the streetcar passes over it, removing concerns about public access to an electrified at-grade rail." It fgoes on to detail the new technology.

Why can't DC be a leader for a change!!!

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