“DDOT Selects Design-Build Team to Complete H Street/Benning Road Streetcar Line”

Photo by PoPville flickr user mosley.brian

From a press release:

Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced today that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has selected the team of Dean-Facchina LLC to complete the design and construction of the District’s first modern streetcar line along H Street and Benning Road, NE. The proposed contract was sent to the Council this week for review and approval.

“This is an important step forward to ensure the streetcar line will be in operation late next year,” said Mayor Gray. “With this contract in place, residents will see immediate progress on the final construction needed to get the cars running on H and Benning.”

Dean-Facchina will be responsible for the design and construction of the western and eastern termini of the streetcar line, the overhead catenary power system, and the Car Barn/Training Center at Benning Road and 26th Street, NE.

“Design-build contracts overlap the design and construction phases, which can shave valuable time off the delivery schedule for projects like this,” said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. “As soon as we issue the Notice to proceed the team will be able to hit the ground running to complete this line.”

Streetcar tracks and platforms were installed on H Street and Benning Road as part of the Great Streets Projects that were completed last year. The District also owns 3 streetcar vehicles and 2 additional vehicles are now under construction at the Oregon Iron Works/United Streetcar facility in Clackamas, Oregon.

Dean-Facchina LLC is a joint venture between M.C. Dean, Inc. and the Facchina Construction Company, Inc., a leading regional design-build heavy civil infrastructure firm. The Dean-Facchina Team was specially formed for this particular design-build project. Both firms have extensive experience working on District transportation project, and the team has named Systra and Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT) as the lead designers for this project.

For more information about the DC Streetcar, please visit www.dcstreetcar.com.

So when do you think we’ll see the first streetcar rolling down H Street?

27 Comment

  • Any word on whether the city will consolidate the bus stops and streetcar stations? Went there this weekend and tough to find parking on H Street- noticed that in the same block, half the parking was taken by a bus stop AND a separate streetcar stop on the same block.

    Why not make them one stop to increase on-street parking? Or was there no planning?

    • Never going to happen. The streetcar platforms are a different height than regular curbs, so the streetcar can pull up level and people with a disability can get off without stepping up or down. You’ll notice the ramps that bring the sidewalk up to the streetcar’s level at the stations. A bus can’t use the same area because the door opening would crash into the high curb.

  • “termini”? Puh-lease.

  • So when do you think we’ll see the first streetcar rolling down H Street?


  • Dear DDOT,

    I know these decisions are difficult, especially when you put them in the decisions of young MBA’s that have zero experience in transportation, infrastructure, budgeting, construction, design OR build, but you really need to get your act together.

    You are right. Design-build is the typical approach when time truly is of the essence. But, the tradeoff is that it costs more. Usually anywhere from 10-15% more.

    This alignment is already what…4 years behind schedule. Spending an additional 15 % to shave off 4-6 months of total time at this point is like deciding to quit smoking after you already have terminal lung cancer.

    Oh, and for the rest of you, the reason why Dean-Facchina LLC is a newly formed District entity, is so that DC can get the work done, AND pretend like it is following its own rules about 50% of the money being spent on actual District firms. Facchina is a MD company, MC Dean a VA company

    Why DC makes such a point of lecturing every contractor or developer out there and brow beats them into making enormously expensive set asides for hiring local, than ignores the same rules for its own projects is ridiculous.

    • Exactly. I have no idea why they didn’t consult you before making all of these important decisions. I guess they weren’t reading the comments on this site.

      • Cause they are too busy trying to shove crap out the door to give the boss some subjective accomplishment to put on his Mayoral resume, before the feds haul him off in a perp walk.

    • This is completely true, the district wastes unbelievable amounts of money on design build projects so the procurement people don’t have to actually do anything. They can just put all the responsibility on a contractor who then charges them for the added risk and administration. If anyone can get it done though, MC Dean and Facchina can.

  • I wonder how many car doors are going to get sheared off by the streetcars before they look totally battered… This fantasy of nostalgia has drained millions of dollars out of the city’s budget and given a lot of business investors a lot of false hope, and after years of being stagnant (I’m afraid) will never take off properly, and will never expand to more than a short route that won’t recover costs. People involved should be held highly accountable. Tsk Tsk, what a waste, but that’s DC Gov.

    • This “fantasy of nostalgia” has already revitalized a blighted area (both businesses and real estate values) and pumped millions of dollars in tax money into DC’s coffers. It just goes to show how taxpayer dollars can be catalyzed to jump start the private sector.

      Physician, heal thy own fantasies.

      • Bloomingdude,

        Simply not true. H Street revitilization was going gangbusters years before the Streetcar plans along H street were even approved. It had everything to do with the real estate boom and massive influx of new monied yuppie residents.

        Also, if the streetcar is so directly responsible, why then has it had zero effect along the Anacostia alignment?

        I could have gotten more behind the DC streetcar thing if they were actually smart about it, and put these things in their own ROW. As it stands, DC wants to spend billions of dollars on something that is less useful than a bus.

        • Yeah, it was only a matter of time before the yuppie neighborhoods of Capitol Hill expanded North and created a need for local bars and restaurants.

        • The H St revitalization project began in 2002… the same time the DDOT studies on the streetcar picked H St as a line…. so I’d say Bloomingdude was not 100% incorrect. The idea of a streetcar on H definitely helped spur the revitalization… else Gray’s attempt to end the project when he was council chair would not have caused such an uproar from the ward voters. But the Atlas District was the beginning of it… what was that, early 2000’s? I recall hearing about possibilities coming in in the late 90’s… but I don’t recall anything open until 2001-2003.

          Anacostia is it’s own bag of fish.

          • Mayor Williams announced the H Street Revitilization initiative in 2003. A Streetcar on H street study (as well as DC wide) was initiated in 2004, and the H street streetcar wasn’t a given until a narrowly passed vote in 2006 which is when it got city money and became a reality.

            As I said, H street (like the rest of the District) was already going gangbusters by 2001 (the RE boom having started locally in 1998) You can’t give credit to something that wasn’t decided upon for another 5 years.

            Once it opens sometime between 2014 and 2025, I look forward to reading all the irate blogs about people riding a streetcar that got caught for 20 minutes behind a broken down bus, or a double parked car.

            These things are nothing more than useless shiny and ridicuously expensive toys that DC can’t afford to build, let alone operate and maintain at a 25% proposed farebox recovery rate (DDOT’s most generous revenue numbers)

          • I thought I read on here or somewhere else that one of the major projects being considered on H street is being put on hold by the developer until he has certainty about the street car. If that’s the case, it proves the point that the “gangbusterness” of H street isn’t simply because of the success of Capitol Hill or some mayoral initiative.

            Speaking from my own experience, I would pay a premium to live near metro or a street car but not a bus line, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

            As for Anacostia, I think some people are giving it a second look based on its proximity to the stadium and easy access because of the streetcar. Unfortunately, it has crime and public housing issues that continue to scare off potential investors.

          • Well we’ll disagree on timing then

            –The H Street revitalization project began the study in 2002 finalized in 2004.
            –The “Atlas District” didn’t start until 2001 when the H St playhouse opened.
            –None of Englert bars opened until 2004-2006.
            –The Streetcar study began in 2002 (and I wouldn’t say it’s finished even now).

            So RE sales around H St may have started in 2001… but it didn’t boom until the above items were being planned and opened.

            You can certainly give credit to the idea of a streetcar having some effects upon the ongoing revitalization of the area.

            I’m not a fan of the streetcar system because of how it’s been handled – I would have preferred Gray stick to his first choice of cancelling it and putting in a dedicated bus lane.

          • Here it is. How do you explain this?

            Gary Rappaport: No Trolley, No Building on H Street

            The Rappaport Companies’ planned redevelopment of a shabby suburban-style mall on H Street NE between 8th and 10th Streets was one of the early big, new projects for the corridor (though Guy Steuart’s Giant-anchored building got out of the ground on 3rd Street first). Since then, there’s been no movement, even as developers buy up the rest of the street. What is Gary Rappaport waiting for?

            Just like everyone else, he’s waiting for the streetcar—but tracks and a promised start date from the District aren’t good enough. Right now, Rappaport still has to negotiate termination agreements with the tenants currently in the mall, and doesn’t want to lose that rental income before bringing in the kind of retail and restaurants that a functional streetcar would attract. Then, he has to find a joint venture partner to build and own the 350 or so residential units. Neither of those things should be difficult, but Rappaport says he needs certainty before making any moves.

            “The most important thing in bringing those two thing together is knowing when the trolley’s going to start,” he told me yesterday. “I can’t lease space now. I have to lease space when there’s a few more buildings up, when the Giant’s open, when there’s a trolley running.”

            That’s supposed to be in 2013, but given that the District hasn’t even announced its selection of a firm to finish the design and buildout of a power station, overhead wires, and a maintenance facility, it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

    • Haters gon’ Hate…

    • bfinpetworth

      I was just in Denver and was so impressed with their streetcars. I’m hopeful this will end the same – a clean, smooth, quiet mode of transportation – and we won’t have so many busses tahtonly pull in halfway to the bus pad, thus blocking a whole lane of traffic unnecessarily (one of my pet peeves with our local bus drivers. Get your bus tail out of the traffic lane!).

  • My guess? Spring 2014. I hope I’m wrong and it’s late next year.

    All the naysayers predicting cars having their doors sheared off are ridiculous. These layouts are all over Europe in much greater complexity and it’s fine. Sure this could have all been better designed and implemented but sometimes you’ve got to do things unconventionally to actually do anything in this city. If this had gone to committee and open to ad nauseum citizen armchair quarterbacking it never would have happened at all. Of course some of you think it shouldn’t, but we’ll agree to disagree on that.

    • The same people coming up with the horror fantasies and long list of complaints on why we shouldn’t adopt new modes of transportation are also the ones who made all the false predictions about the capital bikeshare program which is now considered tops in the nation.

  • Hopefully this is launched in a timely matter (after the already long delay) and reliably. If it falters or is further delayed the momentum to return streetcars to DC may never happen.
    DC badly needs efficient and frequent transportation to circulate the city (I’d love a circle metro line in the Distric) and serve undeserved neighborhoods across the city. The streetcar could do that – and I hope it will.

    • A circle metro line would be awesome! Never gonna happen, but I’m sure it would be really popular since more and more of us are choosing to live and work in the city.

  • While *we* may see street cars rolling down H Street in late 2013 or early 2014, I’m wondering what kind of view *Gary* will have of them from his prison cell when he’s serving time for corruption.

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