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H Street Drivers Still Getting Accustomed To Streetcar

A streetcar operator searches for the driver of a white van that is blocking the lane on H Street Northeast.
Martin Di Caro/WAMU
A streetcar operator searches for the driver of a white van that is blocking the lane on H Street Northeast.

Here is some advice for motorists on H Street Northeast in Washington: beware the streetcar.

Day in, day out, streetcars are whirring up and down H Street, until this happens:

Part of the testing process involves ironing out kinks like this one — the streetcar blares its horn to alert the driver of a parallel parked van that it's blocking the tracks. The van’s outside tires were parked outside the all-important white line running along H Street.

"You could have been towed."

"I know," said the driver.

"So you did know about the line, but you parked over it accidentally?"

"Well I wasn't planning on staying away from my car. I literally pulled up to get something and now I am leaving," she said.

She quickly drove off, and the streetcar started up again.

This scenario is what the District wants to avoid once the streetcar opens later this year, and officials hope $100 tickets do the trick. The Department of Public Works has written 143 tickets and towed eight cars to clear the way for streetcars. They operate on a fixed track, so even a bumper jutting into its path is enough to stop it cold.

In the best-case scenario, the streetcar will open in November, giving parkers several more weeks to learn to park correctly.

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