Car Barn Training Center

Construction on the permanent Car Barn Training Center (CBTC II) began in spring 2015 and is expected to be commissioned in 2017. Construction on the first phase of the Car Barn Training Center (CBTC I), which comprises the yard and the temporary storage facility was completed in 2014. The temporary facility houses our six streetcar vehicles while the permanent facility is being constructed.





Have a question about the CBTC not answered here? Feel free to send an email to [email protected] to ask. We’ll be sure to respond as quickly as we can.

What exactly is a Car Barn?
A Car Barn serves as an operations and maintenance facility. Streetcars are inspected, cleaned and when needed, repaired in the Car Barn. It also provides office space, locker rooms and a break room for streetcar personnel.

The Car Barn, to be located at the corner of Benning Road and 26th Street NE, will initially serve as the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) base and a command center for the H Street/Benning Road line. As the line extends west towards Georgetown and east towards Anacostia, it will serve the entire One City Line. The Car Barn will be the place of work for the opeators, maintenance employees and management. The Car Barn will not serve as a stop, a terminus point or turnaround.

What about the Training Center?
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is working with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) on a training program to be housed at this facility. Although Spingarn High School was closed at the end of the 2013 school year, DCPS plans to modernize and transform the building into a Career and Technical Education (CTE) center, preparing students from across the District for careers in high-demand industries, including transportation.

The Car Barn will be well positioned for an adult education program in conjunction with the University of the District of Columbia Community College. The focus of the education programs will be on the growing field of electric vehicle technology and transit systems. As the streetcar program continues to grow, our hope is to have a “homegrown” talent pool to choose from when positions are added to the system or become open.

Will there be community space available for use?
At the urging of the community, a 1,500 sq. ft. conference room is included in the current plans for community use. The programming of this space will be determined by civic leaders and the community.
How big is the CBTC?
The space available at the site is roughly two acres. While all of the space will be used as part of the facility, the actual CBTC building is proposed to be approximately 15,000 square feet (less than 20 percent of the overall space.)

For comparison, an average McDonald’s is about 4,000 square feet and the Lincoln Memorial is about 22,600 square feet.


What is a TPSS?
TPSS = Traction Power Sub Station

These substations provide electrical power to the streetcar motors through the Overhead Catenary System (OCS).

Providing power to the vehicles requires three substations to be placed along the H/Benning corridor. A TPSS only runs when the streetcars are in service, so they are not operating 24/7.

Substations are completely safe and fully enclosed. They do not emit radiation or any other harmful pollutants.

Noise from a TPSS can best be descibed as a quiet, dull hum. You can only hear the TPSS operate if you are standing right beside it.

Will there be toxic run-off into the Anacostia River?
No. There is no toxic run-off associated with streetcars because they are clean, electric vehicles.
Will the streetcar vehicles give off emissions?
No. The streetcar vehicles contain electric motors and do not give off emissions.
What about noise?
DDOT is sensitive to concerns from the neighboring residents and businesses regarding noise. The streetcar vehicles themselves are no louder than a normal bus, as their electric motors are relatively quiet.

Noise generated in the CBTC building will be mitigated by a retaining wall on the western side of the property and the materials used for the building itself.

Will streetcar vehicles be coming in and out of the CBTC all day?
No. The streetcar vehicles will leave in the early morning, run their route all day and return in the evening/at night when the system closes. The only exception to this will be if a vehicle has a problem or breaks down.

Operating hours have not yet been set, but will be similar to Metro.

What happens if a streetcar vehicle breaks down or has a maintenance issue?
On the rare occasion this might happen, the vehicle operator will notify the operations base via radio. A spare vehicle will be put into service and the distressed vehicle will be towed back to the CBTC.
What is the design process for the CBTC, now that Spingarn High School has been designated historic?
Since Spingarn was designated as an historic site, the Car Barn Training Center (CBTC) design has been going through a review process with the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Employees of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) make up the HPRB staff. These dedicated historians provide oversight to the District’s historic and cultural resources through planning, protection, and public education. SHPO is part of the Office of Planning and also serves as the Mayor’s Agent for historic preservation. SHPO also implements federal historic preservation programs such as the State Historic Preservation Office for the District of Columbia.

DDOT is required to seek final design approval from the board. The design of the CBTC has progressed to the point that the HPRB is confident DDOT will continue to refine the design to reflect their comments and input, as DDOT has thus far. The design process moving forward will be to continue to meet with the HPRB staff until the design is fully approved.

What is the CBTC construction process?

The CBTC will be built in two phases so that passenger service will not be delayed because of the Car Barn. Phase 1 will include the tracks and facilities necessary to support system testing and certification as well as a temporary facility that will house the vehicles until the CBTC is built. Phase 1 is nearly complete.

Phase 2 construction will include the actual Car Barn Training Center building, which will include a conference room intended for community use.

Will the CBTC be safe?

Yes. DDOT will ensure that the building adheres to the same safety standards as its other properties.

Will there be security at the building? Around the clock?

Yes – a guard will secure the CBTC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Exact details of the CBTC security plan are still being finalized, and due to their sensitive nature will not be fully publicized. DDOT foresees using a variety of security mechanisms at the site, which will include fencing, cameras, lighting and alarms.

Will the CBTC store any dangerous or hazardous materials?

No. Nothing hazardous will be stored at the location. The site will contain space and resources for the operation and maintenance of streetcars and space for training and meetings.

How can I find out more about DC Streetcar Safety?

From planning to construction to operations, safety encompasses all aspects of DC Streetcar. Our School Safety Campaign began in September 2014. Please check out our safety tips and information.

What about jobs?
The contracts for the completion of needed construction along the H/Benning line, including the CBTC, and the O&M of the H/Benning line both include a First Source clause. The First Source Program, administered by the Department of Employment Services (DOES), includes provisions for hiring District residents:

  • Should a contractor need new hires for the job, 51 percent need to be District residents; and
  • Job openings will be listed with DOES.

The O&M team is complete at this time, including supervisors, maintenance staff, and operators. Future employment information will always be posted in our Employment section.

What District agencies are consulting on the CBTC?
  • DC Public Schools (DCPS)
  • Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)
  • Office of Planning (OP)
  • Department of Environment (DDOE)
  • Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB)
  • State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
  • U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)
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