D.C. Streetcar testing continues as public opinion differs

WASHINGTON (AP/WJLA) - The arrival of the first streetcar in the District of Columbia in half a century is drawing attention this weekend as testing began for the new streetcar line on H Street.

A 66-foot-long streetcar arrived Friday night and was placed on the steel track. Some people gathered to snap pictures. By Sunday, engineers were conducting tests and found some issues with the overhead lines that will power the streetcar. They were making repairs Sunday morning.

Further tests are planned for this week. While the project is moving forward, not everyone in the community is happy about the new addition to the neighborhood.

"I think there's been a lot of skepticism about when and where the city would deliver," D.C. resident Phil Radford said.

District transportation officials are planning to extend the H Street line west to Georgetown and east to the Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road Metro stations. Officials say the district is committing about $400 million for the line to reach Georgetown. A broader streetcar network also is planned.

Some of D.C.'s longtime residents are heralding the arrival of the city's streetcar system as a way to connect parts of the city neglected by mass transit, specifically Metro.

"You look at all the studies that show huge economic development whenever you put in fixed rail," Washington resident Matt Golden said. "I'm in favor of it all over the place.

But others don't echo Golden's sentiment, including Joseph Young, a local photographer who believes the system could be detrimental to seniors, the poor and longtime merchants.

"All the development is pushing them out," Young said. "They can't attend the restaurants. They can't afford to shop on H Street anymore."