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D.C. Streetcar could be expanded two miles eastward, across the Anacostia River

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The city will launch the initial design process for the project this month

A red cable streetcar in service on a street with mixed-use buildings in the background.
The D.C. Streetcar on H Street NE
Shutterstock

Service on the 2.2-mile D.C. Streetcar would almost double in length and stretch across the Anacostia River to the Benning Road Metro stop under preliminary designs that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is studying. The streetcar, which opened on H Street NE and the westernmost part of Benning Road NE in 2016, now runs from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue NE but does not cross the river. DDOT says it will publicly kick off design work on the project at a September meeting. This project also includes other street changes.

“Public engagement will be continuous throughout the preliminary design project, which is expected to conclude in 2020,” DDOT notes in a release. “If it is determined that the Build Alternative will not result in significant environmental impacts, the District may then move the project forward through subsequent final design and construction phases.” The design option in play would put new streetcar tracks and platforms in the middle of Benning Road NE. Five additional streetcar stops (beyond the eight existing ones) are proposed: Kingman Island, 34th Street NE, 39th Street NE, 42nd Street NE, and the Benning Road Metro stop.

The alternative was identified in a draft environmental assessment that DDOT completed in 2016. On top of the potential streetcar extension, the project will examine improvements to intersections along Benning Road NE and to existing infrastructure, including DC-295, CSX freight rail tracks, and the bridges that cross the Anacostia River. Reconstructed sidewalks as well as new bike lanes from Oklahoma Avenue NE to 36th Street NE are on the table too. In a webpage for the project, DDOT says that “the specific configuration and limits of the bicycle facilities will be determined and presented to the public as preliminary design progresses.”

A map and concept renderings of an urban streetcar.
Concept renderings for the D.C. Streetcar extension
D.C. government
A map and concept renderings of an urban streetcar.
Concept renderings for the D.C. Streetcar extension
D.C. government

The upcoming community meeting, which DDOT describes as an “open house,” is set to take place September 19 between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the offices of D.C.’s Department of Employment Services, located at 4058 Minnesota Avenue NE, near the area’s Metro station.