Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99
“The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced that it has approached the final stage of construction of the H Street/Benning Road Streetcar line—and that it anticipates testing of streetcars in the corridor will begin in December. Citizens can expect to see streetcars along H Street/Benning Road during this process, although passenger service will not begin until 2014.
The streetcar system safety work in December will require the integration of power, communications, and traffic signal controls to ensure that all components are safe and working properly. The streetcar system work must perform under several traffic scenarios, and emergency drills will be performed before safety certification can begin by local and federal safety officials.
“This process involves several critical steps, will take several months to complete, and is intended to ensure that the operation of our vehicles is safe for use by all who interact with the system,” said DDOT Director Terry Bellamy. “It also provides our streetcar operators with the ability to operate these vehicles under live traffic conditions along the H Street/Benning Road corridor and allows pedestrians and motorists the chance to experience first-hand how the streetcar system will work once passenger service starts. This is a critical phase of the project that we can’t afford to rush. Construction completion and system testing and integration will clear the way for passengers to use the system confidently—and safely.”
The streetcar safety system testing phase will start with the three cars currently housed at the Testing and Commissioning Site in Anacostia, with a fourth vehicle being delivered from Oregon Iron Works in December. Final safety certification cannot occur until all five cars are tested and accepted into the system—the fifth car will be delivered in January 2014. The delivery of the fourth and fifth vehicles by Oregon Iron Works has been delayed due to the vendor supply issues associated with their work in other cities. The District is working with these cities to assist in the success of this company.
Before testing begins in December, crews must complete the final stretch of construction which is well underway. About 80 percent of the work to make H Street/Benning Road “streetcar-ready” was completed during Phase 1 in 2011, during the Great Streets roadway reconstruction project. Currently, DDOT is performing final design and construction for streetcar turnarounds, Car Barn Training Center (CBTC), installation of poles and overhead wires, track installation for turnarounds/pocket tracks and final work for turnarounds.
DDOT has established a Construction Hotline ((202) 210-3700) to provide affected individuals with immediate assistance. The DC Streetcar website (www.dcstreetcar.com) also has daily construction updates and a block-by-block construction map for residents to track progress and get the latest updates.”