It’s going to be the summer of streetcar in DC, with increasingly rapid progress visible on H Street and at the vehicle testing site in Anacostia.

At last week’s streetcar community fair, DDOT representatives presented the timeline for vehicle testing, gave line-by-line construction and planning status updates, and showed images of streetcar station signs, power substations, the car barn, and more. The fair was one of the largest releases of new information in the program’s history.


Streetcar station pylon sign. Image from DDOT.



Vehicle testing timeline

Workers at the streetcar testing and commissioning site on South Capitol Street have already started testing the mechanics and electronics of the 3 Czech-built streetcars currently in DC. They’ll begin dynamic testing around July 15, meaning that’s when streetcars will actually begin to move along track.

Around August 1, the 3 streetcars will be turned over to DDOT’s operations and maintenance team for a month of crew training, before they’re moved to H Street for on-site testing

around August 30

this autumn.

The first of the 3 new US-built United Streetcar vehicles is expected to arrive and begin testing in September.

Line by line updates on the 22-mile system

DC’s streetcar plans call for 37 miles of lines, but so far DDOT is only working on the first 22 miles.


The 22-mile system. Image from DDOT.


Work is progressing in 3 phases. Each line goes through alternatives planning, followed by environmental analysis, and then finally construction.

Right now, two segments are under construction, two are in the environmental stage, and 4 are in alternatives planning.

The H Street and Anacostia initial segment are under construction now, with H Street slated to open this year.

Planners expect environmental analysis to be finished this summer for the northern extension of the Anacostia line into central Anacostia, and for the eastern extension of the H Street line across the Anacostia River to Benning Metro.

Alternatives planning is complete for the M Street SE/SW line, and will soon be complete for the Union Station to Georgetown line. The north/south line will begin analysis this summer, with the Bolling Air Force Base extension of the Anacostia line following after that.

The car barn


The car barn. Image from DDOT.


Streetcars will be stored and maintained over the long term in the car barn in front of Spingarn High School. The car barn design is still advancing through the Historic Preservation Review Board approval process, but is now making progress and is no longer facing delays.

Construction will begin this month on the tracks and non-building infrastructure at the car barn site, in anticipation of hosting streetcars later this year. The building itself should begin construction this fall, and open in summer 2014.  DDOT can operate the streetcars with the tracks but not the building for a few months, so as long as the tracks at the car barn site are finished on time, the fact that the building will still be under construction this winter should not cause any delay.

Power substations

There will be 3 traction power substations along the H Street line, necessary to keep the streetcar’s overhead wires alive with electricity. The substations will be located at 2nd Street NE, 12th Street NE, and 25th Street NE.


12th Street substation. Image from DDOT.


Approval was granted for the 12th Street substation in May, and construction is now imminent.

Keep up to date

It’s going to be a busy and exciting summer for streetcars in DC. To keep up with the latest, visit DCstreetcar.com.

Correction: The 3 streetcars currently being tested at the commissioning site will be moved to H Street sometime this autumn, not at the end of August as originally reported.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.