Council Chairman Vince Gray just announced that funding for streetcars has been restored, moving an amendment to provide $10M in capital funds in 2010 and $37M in 2011 for streetcars on H Street. The immediate funds go to purchasing additional streetcars.
CM Jim Graham said it was a "splendid relief" that demonstrates a "strong commitment" from the Council to streetcars.
CM Harry Thomas, Jr. said he read many emails that came in today on the issue and that he was "always a supporter" and was complimentary of Gray's role in funding it.
CM Marion Barry said he thought funding was restored "because of some emails or whatever" and said he'd vote for the amendment, but that he was not going to thank Jim Graham or Tommy Wells because he had other priorities. He later asked "What about us?"
CM Phil Mendelson asked about the planning connected to the funding and agreed that returning the funds made sense.
CM David Catania said he was "really pleased with the resolution" and noted there had been some mistatements made by his colleagues regarding the Council's history with streetcar planning. He added that he believed streetcars were the "future of transportation" in DC.
CM Tommy Wells stated clearly that Council was "restoring the funding for the H Street-Benning Road line" and that the immediate funds were going to purchasing additional cars to run along that line. Wells explained that planning regarding wires, turnarounds, and other implementation matters would be addressed by the Council in the near future. He applauded the Council moving ahead with streetcars on H Street without delay.
CM Muriel Bowser noted that she was surprised to note that there was no funding for streercars at the budget when she arrived at work this morning and that she was "anxious for H Street to proceed so that the next corridors to proceed will go even more quickly."
CM Jack Evans asked whether the funding would fit within the debt cap and was told that it would.
At 4:20, Chairman Gray moved the amendment, the 2010 & 2011 budget acts by voice vote. CM Marion Barry requested that he be recorded as voting no.
At 4:30, Chairman Gray presented an amendment to flush out some of the details involving the turnaround at the eastern end and the connection to Union Station. Not clear if they are familiar with the details DDOT presented to the public on those matters at a meeting earlier this Spring. Jim Graham emphasized that the planning for implementation should not hold up the immediate funding for the new streetcars. Phil Mendelson continued to make noise that suggests he is trying to oppose streetcars on H Street at every turn and has not been following the process closely in recent months as DDOT has shared more details about how the project will work, but the amendment passed by voice vote.
At 4:40, the amended emergency bill passed by voice vote with Jack Evans recorded as opposed and thereafter the Council passed a temporary measure to accomplish the same by the same voice vote.
And at 4:45 the streetcar funding that was there by all accounts until the Chairman released a bill at 2 am saying it was gone was restored. $47 Million for Streetcars on H Street!
Great work and thanks to all who called, emailed, cajoled and otherwise weighed in to support this project!