Final Streetcar Construction Underway as DDOT Begins Testing and Safety Certification

System to Undergo Safety and Acceptance Process before Passenger Service on H St. / Benning Road

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DDOT Media Contact: Reggie Sanders (202) 437-0809, reggie.sanders@dc.gov

(Washington, D.C.)–The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has announced it has approached the final stage of construction of the H St./Benning Road Streetcar line—and that it anticipates testing streetcars in the corridor beginning in December.  Citizens will see streetcars along H St. /Benning Road during this process in December, although passenger service will not begin until all vehicles have been tested, integrated with the H Benning Line and certified as safe by the State Safety Oversight (SSO) Agency.

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. DDOT will work closely with the SSO through DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS) to accelerate their process toward accepting passengers on DC Streetcar.

“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 Terry Bellamy, Director of the District Department of Transportation.   “It also provides our streetcar operators the ability to operate these vehicles under live traffic conditions along H St. and Benning Road 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. The delivery of the fifth and sixth vehicles by Oregon Iron Works has been delayed due to the vendor supply issues associated with their work in other cities. There are expected to arrive in early 2014.

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/Benning “streetcar-ready” was completed during Phase 1 in 2011, during the Great Streets roadway reconstruction project.  Right now, 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 project website www.dcstreetcar.com also has consistent construction updates and a block-by-block construction map for residents to track progress and get the latest updates.

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