K Street Transitway. Image by DDOT.
DDOT is studying whether or not to extend the H Street streetcar onto K Street in downtown DC. As part of the study, they will rethink whether or not the long-planned K Street Transitway makes sense.
DC’s citywide streetcar plan shows a line connecting H Street with downtown and Georgetown, roughly along the same route as the K Street Circulator bus. With H Street less than a year from opening, it’s now time to start working on the next project.
On Wednesday evening last week, DDOT kicked off its new Union Station to Georgetown Transit Alternatives Analysis. It will consider extending the streetcar versus using other modes such as BRT. It will also look at whether to pursue the transitway or some other alternative.
In order to gain federal approval, and possibly get funding, DC has to study all the options. Streetcars will be strongly considered since existing streetcar plans are the impetus for the study, but rail is not a foregone conclusion.
The study will also look at K Street itself. For years DDOT has proposed rebuilding K Street to include a physically separated transitway down its center. The transitway hasn’t been built yet because there’s never been funding. It’s at least a $140 million project, not counting any of the tracks or electric power systems necessary for streetcars.
The transitway is still an option, but as part of the Alternatives Analysis DDOT will also look at other possibilities, such as curbside transit lanes, mixed traffic, and maybe even using other streets for more transit trips.
The analysis will also consider how to connect Georgetown. Traditional options will focus on Pennsylvania Avenue, M Street, and K Street underneath the Whitehurst Freeway, but a more radical idea might be to convert the Whitehurst itself to a more multimodal, complete street.
If you have any ideas you think DDOT should consider, you can contact them via the project webpage.