Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

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Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby walt » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:46 am

I saw a short news item on DC's Channel 9 last night about what the news report indicated is the last remaining section of DC streetcar conduit track still visible. It's in Georgetown ( I forget the exact location), is about one block long, and there is some controversy concerning a plan to remove it and re lay the cobblestones, but with no rail. Should be an interesting discussion.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby Aa3rt » Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:05 am

Warning-Dormant topic being revived!

Walt, I just found a page, with photographs, of this street trackage at Kevin Walsh's "Forgotten-NY" website. This trackage is very near the Georgetown University Hospital. I can confirm seeing these rails still in place in March of 2008 when I took my wife for surgery at the hospital.

More information here:

http://forgotten-ny.com/2008/04/the-trolley-tracks-of-georgetown-dc/
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby Ken W2KB » Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:14 pm

As of several years ago there was a section on an intersecting street with Wisconsin, a couple or three blocks north of M Street. May be the one in question?
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby jaystreetcrr » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:11 pm

Cool. I love that Lionel third rail effect. DC and Manhattan were the only places to use conduit in the US. Does anyone know of any existing conduit track in Manhattan? I recall reading about some around the end of the 125th St. line on the west side. At the Transit Museum annex in Grand Central they have a conduit track yoke casting on display, a huge chunk of metal that held all the rails in place. Very expensive system to install but probably easier to maintain than overhead wire.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby Aa3rt » Tue Jul 27, 2010 8:38 pm

I'm afraid I don't know anything about any existing trolley track in Manhattan. Here's a link to "Conduit Hall" at the National Capital Trolley Museum in Wheaton, MD with a cross section of the conduit used in the Washington, DC system on display:

http://www.dctrolley.org/conduitHall.htm
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby walt » Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:00 pm

Ken W2KB wrote:As of several years ago there was a section on an intersecting street with Wisconsin, a couple or three blocks north of M Street. May be the one in question?


That may very well have been the section. I do remember that the portion in Georgetown was the last section of conduit track that I saw, but that was some years prior to 2008.

To Jaystreet . . . . I'm not that certain that conduit track was any easier to maintain than overhead wire. First, the current conducting portions were underground and more difficult to reach than overhead sections, and heavy maintenance was very difficult to do under traffic. Pulled plows could disrupt a line for a long time-- until a maintenance vehicle could be dispatched to retrieve the plow--- which could not be reinstalled under the car at that location--thus the car would have to be towed either to a car barn, or at least to a plow pit where a new plow could be installed ( or the pole raised to contact the overhead if the car was outbound) ----- during rush hours this could be a major problem. Also remember that, unlike Manhattan, DC had both overhead wire and underground conduit operation, and had to maintain both. The chief advantage of the conduit system was the absence of overhead wires and the supporting poles, which was important enough for the Congress to ban overhead wires for streetcars within the "original" city of Washington.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby jaystreetcrr » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:22 pm

I'm sure conduit wasn't easy to maintain. I've heard that salt for melting snow was a problem and that kids would put junk in the slot to disrupt service.
Thrid Avenue Railway did have overhead wire in the Bronx and where these lines interchanged in upper Manhattan, some poor sap in a "plow pit" would have to take the plow on or off. I think DC had the same thing. Both lines seem to have similar square manhole covers spaced along the center slot and some kind of access pits at longer intervals. Third Avenue Railway System in Manhattan, NJ International 1996, has some good scale drawings of all this. If I ever build a 3rd Ave. diorama I'll have to make a bunch of those hatch castings to stick in the cobblestones.
That may be what made me think there was still a trace of conduit track in Manhattan...someone wrote to the Times a few years ago wondering why a "Third Avenue Railway" hatch was on W 125th St.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby walt » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:11 pm

jaystreetcrr wrote:I'm sure conduit wasn't easy to maintain. I've heard that salt for melting snow was a problem and that kids would put junk in the slot to disrupt service.
Thrid Avenue Railway did have overhead wire in the Bronx and where these lines interchanged in upper Manhattan, some poor sap in a "plow pit" would have to take the plow on or off. I think DC had the same thing. Both lines seem to have similar square manhole covers spaced along the center slot and some kind of access pits at longer intervals


OK Then the two systems were almost identical. DC had extensive overhead wire in the areas outside of the "original" city of Washington, which by the end of the streetcar era was actually fairly close in, so there were a number of plow pits on the system. The "poor sap" mentoned was called a "plowman" and he worked in the plow pit in all kinds of weather at any time streetcars were running. The hatches were actually very important as they provided the only access to the electrical system. I remember riding a Route 70 car ( Seventh Street-Georgia Ave. line) through the plow pit at 7th & Florida Ave. NW back in 1959. The change over was interesting, though the only thing that passengers on the car were aware of was the operator exiting the car to raise or lower the pole ( depending on the direction of travel) At that time, I was still living in Philly,where, of course, streetcars couldn't move without their poles being raIsed and in contact with the overhead, and was totally fascinated by the sight of streetcars actually running with their poles hooked down. I note that DC has just gotten approval to use overhead wire for their soon to be constructed new streetcar line ( in Georgetown, I believe) so we may finally see overhead wires in the "old" city of Washington.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby oknazevad » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:31 pm

The new line under construction is in Anacostia, in the southeast part of the district, with a second planned on H street in the NE quadrant. neither are near Georgetown, and both are largely outside the historic city (the H street line may be close though.)
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby walt » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:50 pm

oknazevad wrote:The new line under construction is in Anacostia, in the southeast part of the district, with a second planned on H street in the NE quadrant. neither are near Georgetown, and both are largely outside the historic city (the H street line may be close though.)


Ok now I remember--- I think something was proposed for Georgetown, but I don't know whether or not that is still in the plans. The H Street line is actually in that part of the city which used the underground conduit. There was a plow pit at 15th & H, NE in those days, so if the H street line uses overhead west of that location, it will be the first time overhead wires will be used in that section of the city. The old lines in Anacostia actually used double overhead wires at one point in their history.
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby Aa3rt » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:04 am

The rail is about to be torn up and refurbished, however they still won't carry any trolleys....See:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10775/dc-begins-removing-old-streetcar-tracks/

My friend John (K4HQK) who lives in Alexandria, VA went down to document this for himself. See his photos in his blog here:

http://fullertography.blogspot.com
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby Aa3rt » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:32 am

Folks, After making my previous post, I notified our local railfan group "The Pope's Creek Railfans", of this thread. John read the thread and provided some further information on the light rail efforts in DC. Here are his comments:

"The two lines under construction in D.C. are the H Street NE line and the Anacostia line. They are mostly for demonstration purposes, especially the “nowhere to nowhere” Anacostia line, but there are plans to lengthen them extensively and join them together, funding pending.

One runs along the edge of H Street NE from its west end at 3rd Street NE (where it will eventually run into nearby Union Station for service to Amtrak/MARC/VRE passengers) to 14th Street, then turns slightly onto Benning Road and continues to the intersection with Oklahoma Avenue NE at its east end. This end of the line will one day cross into Anacostia and join the line there.

The Anacostia line itself is very short. The present project runs a few blocks along Firth Sterling Avenue to South Capitol Street, where it turns south and runs along the edge of the highway for about 1/3 mile. On Firth Sterling, it runs north to Suitland Pkwy and stops. It’s supposed to eventually terminate at the nearby Anacostia Metro station.

I have not visited either project since last fall, but at that time, the H Street line was almost finished. The Anacostia line’s progress had been somewhat limited. Photos of both lines can be found on my blog by referring to the Blog Archive panel and selecting September 2010.

DDOT announced last fall that both lines will begin operation in spring 2012. These initial line segments will use overhead wires. Future lines will “move to wireless operation as the system expands” (DDOT’s October 2010 streetcar plan), presumably hybrid streetcars with battery/overhead-wire capability for use in Washington’s historic “monumental core”—decreed a century ago not to be obscured by streetcar wires, hence the old underground plow system.

I do not believe D.C.’s DOT has any streetcar plans for Georgetown."

I neglected to mention in my previous post that if you click on "Older Posts" and scroll down in John's blog you'll find photos from last fall of the light rail construction. The bottom of page #2 contains photos and information on the H Street/Benning Road Line. Clicking on "Older Posts" again will take you to page #3 with photos and information on the Anacostia Line.

Here's the link again: http://fullertography.blogspot.com
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Re: Capital Transit/ DC Transit Rail in Georgetown

Postby R,N, Nelson » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:36 pm

Thought I'd add a few points on the post.

The plow pit on Georgia Ave NW in Washington D.C. (Routes 70,72,74,79) was near Georgia Ave & W St. NW, few blocks north of and not at 7th & Florida Ave as posted. There were, at one time, eight other pits in the city.

In New York City, one of the The Third Ave Railway's plow pits was on 125th Street for the Webster Ave line.

The main difference between the two systems was that in Washington, the plow was held stationary and had no lateral movement whereas in New York, they could move laterally. This was necessary where there were two conduits between the rails, one for TAR and the other for New York Railways.

In Washington when there were two companies sharing the same track, they also shared the same conduit. Two interurbans also used the car tracks through trackage rights, using the transit company's plows when doing so.

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