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Planning Commission Letter May Have Cost D.C. $25 Million

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By David Schultz

Just days before the Federal Transit Administration awarded grants for urban streetcar systems, the Planning Commission sent a letter to the FTA, asking it not to give money to D.C.

"I was really surprised by that," says D.C. Councilman and streetcar backer, Tommy Wells. "To write a letter to say 'Hey, don't give them this grant because we're having a dispute.' It was gratuitously punitive to the city. And unfortunate."

Marcel Acosta, the Capital Planning Commission's director, says the streetcars' overhead wires would damage views of the "federal city."

"We need to resolve this very fundamental issue about how to deal with the wires," he says, "and how to protect the federal interests."

The $25 million would've gone toward extending the D.C. streetcar into Anacostia.

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