Washington, DC — Streetcar Months from Opening
Radio station WAMU reports that results of an APTA peer review have identified both technical and managerial issues that need to be completed before the long-delayed streetcar line on H Street and Benning Avenue can begin service.
The District’s first street car line in more than half a century is nearing completion, but it still remains “months” from opening to the public, said D.C.’s top transportation official in an interview with WAMU 88.5 on July 9. The remarks by DDOT director Leif Dormsjo come as the District releases a final report by outside transit experts assembled by the American Public Transportation Association.
According to the final APTA report, there is still work to be done. It lists 15 additional observations on top of the 18 recommendations in the preliminary findings. “The general organization of the project and the support to DDOT from the contractors appears to be uneven.
The report called for a single person to be in charge of the streetcar project and for better communication and coordination with independent safety oversight officers housed within the D.C. Fire Department.
The findings of the preliminary APTA report turned H Street and Benning Road into an active construction zone again. Contractorsbegan fixing cracked rails and installing switch heaters to prevent ice buildup where tracks split. The six street cars, three of which came off the assembly line a decade ago, were pulled from the line and sent to a temporary maintenance barn for repairs.
The report concludes that some of DDOT’s contractors lack the necessary experience to effectively build a street car line. “Based on the panel’s examination of resumes provided, we concluded that not all PM contractor staff assigned to this project have enough relevant light rail or street car experience.
"Likewise, the O & M contractor resumes reviewed found only one individual with a light rail or street car experience,” the report said.