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The Washington Post

D.C.’s trolley trestle in Georgetown is saved from demolition, for now


The District’s final remaining streetcar trestle has been saved from demolition, at the least quickly, at the same time as its destiny is unsure amid a renewed push to revive it.

The D.C. Courtroom of Appeals this month vacated a metropolis resolution that will have allowed Metro to demolish the 126-year-old bridge it inherited 25 years in the past. The ruling was one other setback in Metro’s years-long quest to rid itself of the construction, whereas historic preservationists say the ruling may breathe new life into efforts to show it right into a neighborhood path.

Metro did not show that conserving the construction would trigger financial hardship to the transit company, the courtroom dominated Sept. 15, sending the case again to the mayor’s agent for historic preservation, a metropolis official designated by the mayor’s workplace to rule on D.C. historic preservation regulation. The mayor’s agent permitted the demolition allow in December 2019, however the enchantment has stalled that course of for years.

“WMATA doesn’t have a motive to demolish,” mentioned Rebecca Miller, government director of the DC Preservation League, which has lengthy challenged the demolition plans and introduced the case to courtroom. “They ignored the trestle since they turned its proprietor and this [is considered] demolition by neglect. They’ve let it rot in violation of D.C. historic preservation regulation.”

Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly declined to touch upon plans for the trestle, its situation or the authorized case, citing the litigation.

How Metro inherited three century-old streetcar trestles — and a burden

Inbuilt 1896, the trestle is listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations. It’s additionally on the D.C. Stock of Historic Websites as a contributing component of the Glover-Archbold Historic District.

The trestle — positioned north of the Potomac River in Glover-Archbold Park, east of Foxhall Street NW and west of the Georgetown College campus — was a important passage level for the trolley line that took hundreds of passengers from Georgetown to the amusement park at Glen Echo in Maryland.

The trolley required quite a few trestles to hold tracks over water alongside the Potomac. It’s the final streetcar trestle nonetheless standing within the District, officers with the historic preservation workplace mentioned.

It’s also in poor situation and has continued to deteriorate to the purpose that the pedestrian path beneath it was closed six years in the past. In 2018, Metro mentioned an inspection indicated that the 260-foot-long, 20-foot-wide construction was at high risk of collapse.

Metro inherited the trestle in 1997 after it settled a lawsuit introduced by the earlier proprietor of the streetcar system, D.C. Transit. The construction has remained unused for the reason that streetcar community shut down in 1962. Metro additionally owns land close to the trestle assessed at greater than $500,000, in keeping with courtroom paperwork.

The company has sought the trestle’s demolition after unsuccessful efforts to have town take it over. Metro has additionally tried to promote or donate it to the Nationwide Park Service, Georgetown College and D.C. Water, in keeping with courtroom information.

The courtroom’s ruling is the most recent setback for Metro’s efforts to unload the trestle. Earlier than the mayor’s agent’s favorable resolution on the demolition allow three years in the past, the District’s Historic Preservation Evaluate Board in 2018 denied Metro’s petition for a raze permit, delaying the transit company’s plans to demolish the construction.

A full restoration may value upward of $4 million and between $100,000 and $200,000 yearly to take care of, courtroom paperwork point out. Metro has mentioned demolition would value about $800,000.

The District Division of Transportation mentioned 5 years in the past it was within the trestle’s restoration if it might be reused as a part of town’s rising path community. The trestle is on a route that DDOT has recognized as a possible bike and pedestrian path — an off-road connection between Georgetown and Foxhall Village — and probably to the Palisades neighborhood. The town had mentioned it is also a connection to the Capital Crescent Path and the C&O Canal Path.

However DDOT mentioned this week it now not is within the construction after a research and an impartial inspection discovered components of the bridge and its footings to be in poor situation. The company concluded “the bridge now not serves a transportation operate and as such, is just not of curiosity to DDOT to amass,” DDOT spokeswoman Mariam Nabizad mentioned in an e mail.

These in favor of resurrecting the construction say Metro ought to donate the demolition funds towards restoration, arguing that new transportation cash is offered by means of the federal infrastructure regulation. The positioning’s historic designation may additionally make it eligible for federal grants.

A motorbike and pedestrian path, they are saying, is much more important now that the District is planning to open a new high school at the former Georgetown Day School on MacArthur Boulevard.

“This path will assist the Palisades, Georgetown and Glover Park folks get to this college and can enhance the realm’s bicycle infrastructure,” mentioned Brett Younger, a Palisades resident who has long advocated for restoring the trestle. He mentioned the funding would create a wanted path in an space of the District that doesn’t have protected bike lanes.

He mentioned the courtroom’s resolution has revived hopes for repurposing the outdated trestle, validating its historic worth to town. A construction that was used for transportation, he mentioned, may as soon as once more be used for that objective whereas serving pedestrians and bicyclists.

“All of us agree that the bridge is just not in fine condition,” he mentioned. “It’s a historic landmark and WMATA let it decay. But it surely has been up greater than 120 years and we will restore it to final one other 50 to 100 years.”

After the courtroom’s ruling, the mayor’s agent will seemingly maintain hearings, the place Metro would want to once more make its case for demolition.

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