DDOT’s streetcar model. Photo by BeyondDC on flickr.

In response to yesterday’s story that DDOT may be able to build its 22-mile streetcar network in 5 years, spokesperson Dara Ward clarifies that timeline is only for construction, not planning.

“Given the steps still needed before construction will start, we are 2 to 3 years out before shovels hit the ground,” says Ward. “Realistically, we’re looking at 2020-2021 for the 22-mile system to be built out.”

Such a rapid timeline is only possible because DDOT is looking to sign a private sector partner for the entire 22-mile system. Under that scenario, DDOT would pay a private company to take on responsibility to complete and run the system.

DDOT began exploring the possibility of a private partnership in 2012, and hopes to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) sometime in 2014. Once a contractor is signed, they will proceed with detailed engineering, and then construction.

Without a private partner, Ward says it would take DDOT 17-20 years to complete the same work.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.