Transit Tuesdays: Dupont Underground brings streetcar tunnels to life
Washington, D.C. ended its great streetcar experiment in the 1960s, but as our capital city looks to revive streetcars, another group will attempt to revive a classic streetcar tunnel that existed under Dupont Circle. Enter the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground and a multi-year project that would, according to its site, "encompass the 75,000 [square feet] of infrastructure beneath Dupont Circle that served Washington as a trolley station and then, until it was closed off in 1975, a fallout shelter." The coalition is ready for more public input now after years of quiet preparation.
At DCist, Pat Padua provided fantastically beautiful and intriguing photos of the cavernous space on November 16.
"Our goal is to create a world-class center for art, design, creativity and innovative entrepreneurship that will be a focal point for the city," Coalition board chairman Paul Ruppert told Padua. "We have spent thousands of hours working on the Dupont Underground over the past couple of years, and we are at the point where we are ready to engage the community for more input and feedback."
But making anything happen in the city is never quite so easy. Atlantic Cities' Sommer Mathis underscores the developmental hurdles specific to D.C. in a recent piece on the topic:
They've had good reason to remain somewhat in the shadows. Even beyond the unfortunate Dupont Down Under history, the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and really Washington, D.C., as a whole is saddled with some peculiar structural and cultural realities that make getting ambitious architectural projects off the ground particularly difficult. For one, the city is a veritable patchwork of publicly owned land that is not always under the city's control. While the District of Columbia owns the tunnels themselves, many of the logical entrances to the underground space lay in the middle of small parks, like Dupont Circle itself, that are controlled by the National Park Service. And for another, being the nation's capital, there is no shortage of historic preservation forces ready to pounce on anything that doesn't conform to the classical ideal of the federal city, even in residential neighborhoods like Dupont.
As a former editor of DCist herself, Mathis would be well acquianted. Dupont Underground is likely to impact both the arts and transit of Dupont Circle in various ways once the coalition opens the space. There's a certain romantic and haunting appeal to descending into the streetcar space as the coalition proposes ... but a goal of that magnitude also carries its own challenges and risks. Let's keep our eyes on the project.
Elsewhere in the realms of transportation, urbanism, and real estate...
A better way to house hunt: Curbed D.C. relays the news of a new home search tool that allows a sliding scale of priorities, from dog parks to Metro station location to any other perk you might want. Score one for smarter house hunting!
Utilize all those train doors, scumbag: A series of WMATA memes began to crop up online this week, if you hadn't noticed. The theme — scumbag.
New Columbia Heights rising as we speak: The New Columbia Heights blog notices some construction taking place on the 1300 block on Harvard Street. It's becoming hard to even recall those not-so-halcyon days when a Target didn't loom a few blocks away.
Have you spread out? This Orange Line conductor is compelling you to do so.
D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans built D.C. with his own two hands: City Paper's Alan Suderman gives our veteran politician the cover-story treatment this week in a piece entitled "Unhappy Jack." Veteran political status comes with a lot of stake in the city's development, we learn, as Evans tours the city with Suderman and begins listing his various contributions: "The sites keep coming. There’s the dog park on 17th Street: 'We were absolutely responsible for getting that built.' The renovations of the Jewish Community Center: 'Majorly responsible.' And the 15th street bike lane: You can thank Jack Evans for that, too."
For whom the tolls toll: If you're driving through the Northeast, beware higher tolls on the roads these days, according to Stateline. There are lots of scary words like "climbed" and "surge."
Take that, bike thieves: Prince of Petworth continues his multivolume series "Have You Seen My Stolen Bike?" Bike crime strikes me as rampant enough and frequently dismissed enough that such accounts and tracking are more than worthwhile — even if only to share the stories of theft. Such awareness will lead to more security and attention to the crime. The Metro Transit Police recently announced that they have used decoy bicycles to lure in and capture potential bike thieves.
Another case of driver rage? Another bicyclist report of motorist hostility comes to us, this time from the George Washington Memorial Parkway. A man ended up in the hospital, and there's a $10,000 reward out for the alleged hit-and-run Cadillac driver, I reported this week.
The case for keeping the Capital Crescent Trail on the street: The Purple Line collides with a major D.C. trail, and people have debated whether to incorporate the trail with the transit (expensively) or route the trail around through the Maryland streets. Greater Greater Washington suggests "taking pedestrians and bicyclists from the street only reinforces the thinking that they don't belong there."
Flower power: District pedestrians, breathe in the nature. The District Department of Transportation is planting more than 3,500 trees. It's expanding what it calls our "urban tree canopy."
A tussle that will exhaust: WMATA may be facing contentious negotiations with its biggest union after releasing that report about worker fatigue, The Examiner observes. "They're not concerned about fatigue," union president Jackie Jeter told the newspaper. "They're just concerned about it when a scathing report comes out."
Flying in fear? "Americans have spent nearly $60 billion, and they are no safer today than they were before 9/11," a Congressman said recently. The accompanying report, commissioned by the GOP, casts doubts on whether the TSA is really making our airlines safer, the Post reports.
Read more daily transportation news at TBD On Foot.
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