Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Almost ready for prime time: The D.C. streetcar H Street line

Work continues apace on Washington, D.C.'s new streetcar system . . . but . . . it's no longer scheduled to open for revenue service this month (December '13), as the mayor had originally hoped (and announced). Current betting is for a launch next spring. 

Only one of the two new lines will go into revenue service in the near future, and that's the one downtown that runs along H Street NE from Amtrak's Union Station (the west end) eastward to Benning Road and thence to an unoccupied area where the elevated Metro crosses above (a block or two east of the intersection with 25th Street). Plans call for eventually linking up with the track already laid in Anacostia (S. Capitol St. and Firth Sterling Ave., currently in use as a test track).

On Sunday, December 1, I inspected progress on the H Street line and was pleased to discover two crews from Vanalt Electrical Construction, Inc. (Yeadon, Pa.) hanging catenary. How often does one get to see that?

Across from the entrance to Union Station's parking garage on the Hopscotch Bridge is the western end-of-track. We're facing east and preparing to start down the bridge.
A track vehicle sits near the end-of-track atop the Hopscotch Bridge.
The westernmost passenger stop.

We start down the Hopscotch Bridge, noting track patterns as we go.

The trolley (contact) wire is installed on the south side of H Street and is here supported not by a catenary (drooping) support wire but by these triangular frames.
That trolley wire is about 1/2" thick and appears to be solid copper.
On Benning Road headed east. This location is at the intersection with 25th Street, across from a car barn under construction on the north side of the street. This is the eastbound track.
And this is the westbound track.
The work site of the car barn (or maintenance facility).
The western end of the car barn work site.
Having driven past the easternmost end of track, we turn around and head back west on Benning Road, passing under Metro.

Back on H Street between 13th and 12th Streets we find two Vanalt Electrical Construction crews installing the catenary system.

Our work done for this trip, we head west back up the Hopscotch Bridge . . .

. . . and head for 14th Street, a turn south, and the run home to Alexandria. Hope you enjoyed this update on our exciting new streetcar line, coming next spring!

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