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Studying Streetcar's Eastward Expansion

The DC Department of Transportation will hold a meeting to discuss the Environmental Assessment for the streetcar's eastward expansion. The meeting is on Thursday May 19. Details from DDOT are listed below.

One of the reasons the development for streetcar is so important is that people should have some level of confidence that, when necessary, they can rely on a transit alternative to Metrorail or Metrobus. This is especially pressing since there are now planned delays and closures due to the SafeTrack initiative. Driving is one alternative, but so are walking, biking, car share, taxis/ride share, and now, streetcar. So, if your normal mode can't work today, well, there's always a backup, and a backup to that backup. Some redundancy in transit is OK (some).

The basic plan is to extend the streetcar line from its current eastern terminus Oklahoma Avenue NE down to the Minnesota Ave Metro station, the Benning Road Metro station, or both. With this mild expansion, the streetcar could become another transit connection across the Anacostia River, make H St/Atlas District easier to access from even more neighborhoods, and provide more people with direct access to Union Station, and therefore Amtrak, VRE, MARC, intercity buses, and Metrorail. (All images courtesy the Project Resources page.) 
I have three main questions about the final design.

Which of three extension concepts will win out?
There are three choices here:

A) extend the route from Oklahoma Avenue to the Minnesota Orange Line Metro station

B) extend the route from Oklahoma Avenue to the Benning Road Blue/Silver Line Metro station (bypassing Minnesota Ave station)

C) extend the route from Oklahoma Avenue to the Minnesota Ave Metro station AND the Benning Road Metro station.

I do like the possibility of making a direct connection to the Minnesota Ave Metro station, but I think the priority should be extending the line eastward, all the way to East Capitol Street. And having to walk from Minnesota Ave station to Benning Road to catch a streetcar wouldn't be an insurmountable obstacle. In addition, there would still be a bus available for that connection, the X2.

Here's a great GGW post exploring this very question.
How will the pedestrian experience be improved along the new streetcar route? 
In places, Benning Road NE is eight lanes wide (travel, turning, and parking) with desolate sidewalks and few crosswalks over key stretches. Speedy automobile travel is the current priority here, especially on the bridges over Kingman Island. The streetcar is built to move pedestrians from one place to another, so the pedestrian experience around the streetcar has to be stellar. That includes good lighting, attractive landscaping, seating, and ADA accessibility at corners and crosswalks.
Curb side or island travel and boarding? 
I don't have a feeling either way regarding curbside vs median-side travel, but I definitely prefer curbside boarding to median boarding. Being on the curbside feels nicer because you can potentially hustle down to catch an approaching streetcar without needing to cross the street. And generally speaking, not having to cross the street or mix with auto traffic just to board seems like a good idea. On the other hand, traveling curbside means streetcars can be held up by parked cars that protrude over the red line (blocking the streetcar), double parked cars, and loading buses.

Other questions:
What is the time frame for this project?
Will we be able to maintain similar headways once the new segment is open?
When will Sunday service begin?

Many of these questions aren't set to be answered at the May 19 meeting, and that's OK. It's a process. If you do want to attend the Environmental Assessment meeting, read all the details, from DDOT:

Benning Extension Environmental Assessment (EA) Hearing


The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites the community to a public hearing Thursday, May 19, 2016, to review the findings of an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed Benning Road and Bridges Transportation Improvements.
Following the successful launch of the H/Benning Line of the DC Streetcar on February 27, 2016, this EA considers alternative approaches to extending the existing line east of the Benning Road Metrorail Station. The study area encompasses Benning Road, NE, from Oklahoma Avenue to the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road Metrorail Stations, and evaluates the environmental and cultural effects of the proposed improvements.
The study was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), and will be released by DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.
Public comments will be accepted from May 4, 2016 until 5 pm June 2, 2016. Following the public comment period, the report will be finalized.
WHAT:     Benning Road Transportation Improvements Environmental Assessment
WHEN:    Thursday, May 19, 2016 | 6 pm – 8 pm
WHERE:  Department of Employment Services (DOES) Building
4058 Minnesota Avenue, NE
TRANSIT:  Metrorail: Minnesota Avenue Station (Orange Line)
Metrobus: Visit wmata.com
The reports are available online for public review on the project website http://www.benningproject.com/project-resources/.
Comments should be submitted to Malia Salaam by email at info@benningproject.com or by mail at District Department of Transportation, 55 M Street, SE, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20003.
The document will be available at the following locations for public review between May 4, 2016 and June 2, 2016:
Benning (Dorothy I. Height) Neighborhood Library
3935 Benning Road, NEWashington, DC 20019
Deanwood Library
1350 49th Street, NEWashington, DC 20019
District Department of Transportation
Progressive Transportation Services Administration55 M Street, SE, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20003