Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Unfortunate calculations of streetcar math

April 27, 2012 - 12:02 PM
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(Photo: DDOT)

The District has issued a Notice to Proceed to Oregon Iron Works, Inc. to build the remaining two of five streetcars slated for the 2.2-mile H Street/Benning Road Line scheduled to open some time next year and run from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue. The 2013 launch date is, recall, years later than originally anticipated. The District Department of Transportation first announced the selection of Oregon Iron Works 22 days ago, but the D.C. Council needed to approve the contract. The dates reinforce the possibility that we'll be seeing the H Street line start not in summer of 2013 as planned but in early fall.

Why? The manufacturer has to deliver the streetcar within 545 days of the Notice to Proceed. Look at your calendar, and a little math will place that around mid-October 2013.

The D.C. Council and others have strongly indicated that the streetcar line shouldn't launch until it's ready with all five streetcars. If launched with only three, the headways would be about 18 minutes, according to DDOT director Terry Bellamy.

The District has intentionally avoided saying "mid-2013" or "summer" when talking about the launch recently, such as in this week's announcement. But as recently as late March, officials did say the streetcar "is scheduled to be fully operational along the H Street/Benning Road corridor in summer 2013." DDOT officials have indicated they hope to expedite the process and perhaps they really will receive the streetcars in advance of their contract deadline — but don't be so sure of it. One theme of this week's DDOT budget hearing at the Council was the agency's sluggishness with certain projects. My bet is on fall of 2013, assuming no further complications.

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