Thursday, September 02, 2010

Georgetown Streets on Track for Reconstruction

While the eastern half of Washington DC searches for ways to build tracks for its dust-collecting trolleys, the western half of DC has long been dealing with the opposite problem: plenty of tracks, no trolleys. The west side's problem may be at an end within the next two months. The District government will rebuild Georgetown's historic trolley lines that have divided Georgetowners over the fate of the iconic streetcar lines.

The District is proceeding with plans to rebuild the trolley lines that, depending on your perspective, are either an indispensable piece of Georgetown's culture and character, or make driving and parking a dangerous tightrope walk, or both. The problem is in fact not so much the trolley lines, which have remained intact, but the cobblestones that form the street that have sunk around them, creating a mid-street ridge as much as 4 inches high in some places. The city has wrung its hands over the issue for decades, with minor repairs that included patchwork asphalt that did little to quell the debate. Now the District will repair O and P Streets between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Streets, removing the cobbles and tracks, laying a new foundation less prone to sinking, and reusing as much of the existing materials as possible. After renovation work the stone and rail will be flush. Motorists will still be able to test their driving acumen by aligning their tires on the rails, but without the tire-scorching thud now associated with an errant swerve. Sidewalks on both streets will also be rehabilitated.

Not all residents see the wisdom in repairing the rails. "Why not just cobblestones? Why do we have to have the rails? I don't quite see the need" said Georgetown resident Arne Peterson. Work on the project is expected to commence in "early November," according to a DDOT official familiar with the project.


Anonymous said...

Why not remove everything and just give them asphalt like the rest of the city. If they want more, then the neighborhood should pony up. How many additional miles of normal streets could have been repaved for this

Anonymous said...

The rails are on the historic preservation list.

Anonymous said...

Local residents are already "ponying up" for the project in the terms of income and real estate taxes. Average real estate assessments for the properties along those streets are over $1.5MM and income tax payments are 5x the city average.

Check your logic; if all tax payments were spent locally, the disproportionate share of local taxes paid by Gtown residents would mean MASSIVE investment in NW and huge defecits in NE and SE. Most local govt spending is focused on entitlements, anyway, so there is no way SE could even sustain itself.

Anonymous said...

I second anonymous #3, indeed we are ponying up. As a new resident in the immediate area, I'll take the temporary parking inconvenience over destroying the historic charm we moved there for in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I have always enjoyed the challenge of "straddling the rails" on those streets. It just takes a little practice and you can glide right through there, smooth as glass!

I think think this is a mistake. The ability to drive more than 5 MPH in Georgetown should be limited to those who have enough skill to drive on the rails.

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