Tuesday, September 21, 2010

D.C. Streetcar Construction Update (Sept 19, 2010): H Street/Benning Rd Line

While the Anacostia streetcar line is, so far, a line that begins nowhere and ends nowhere, the H Street line is smack-dab in the heart of a busy commercial district in Northeast Washington. From its western terminus at 3rd Street NE near Washington Union Station, the two-track line proceeds east to a junction with Benning Road and then continues almost to the Anacostia commercial district. Work has been fairly steady on this line, thus on this visit progress was noticeable since our last (May 2, 2010).

The city is also gussying-up this corridor with new sidewalks, a park (to be constructed in the lot on the left in the photo below), and modern sculpture here and there. The east end of the line is completed, and the west end has one track finished and another under construction. The only remaining gap is the block bounded by 13th and 14th Street, where the line must cross a five-way intersection to reach the completed segment on Benning Road.

For this report, I shot pictures (as I have for past reports) on a quiet Sunday morning. The photos below depict the H Street NE streetcar line as of September 19, 2010, starting at its western end (H and 3rd Streets NE) and proceeding east. A few were taken while on foot but most were shot through the windshield of my Jeep, dead bugs 'n' all. In the first photo, the overpass across Union Station's yard is directly behind me:

I was surprised to find this relic standing to the side of the streetcar right of way, evidently a very old police call box. I've since learned the city is preserving these old fellows. More at http://www.washingtonhistory.com/?q=content/call-box-project :

In this view between 3rd and 4th Streets, I turned around facing west:

Facing east again:

And here is where nothing has happened yet, the H Street block between 13th and 14th Streets. Straight ahead H Street encounters a busy five-points intersection with Bladensburg Rd, Florida Ave, Maryland Ave, and Benning Rd. Streetcar tracks have been installed just to the west of the intersection, then continue to their eastern end near the Anacostia River (Oklahoma Ave): 
Hello, what's this? Ah, good old H Street, where it's never dull:
In the photo below we're approaching five points to show where the tracks resume. We won't go any farther on this trip, however, as the line has been completed from here on and we've shown it already in the May report:
Turning around and heading back west now:
And we're back to our starting point at H and 3rd Streets:
Off to the right are several interesting new decorative features, starting with these retro-style streetlamps hung with fancy red signs proclaiming "H Street NE":
Even the new sidewalk got special treatment. The sign to the right announces, "Rehabilitation of H St., N.E. from 3rd Street, N.E. to 14th Street, N.E.":
Behind the sign above is an empty lot in the process of being converted into a park. So far, several pieces of outdoor sculpture have been planted, including this unexplained creation that appears to depict someone escaping out the apex of the Washington Monument:
That's it for this report, which I hope you found interesting. I'll be back with an update when there's something worthwhile to report . . . John

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