Friday, December 13, 2013

IT MOVED! Streetcar test on South Capitol St. (Dec. 12, 2013)

Thursday (December 12) I drove to Anacostia hoping to find a streetcar being hoisted onto a flatbed truck for next week's test runs on H Street NE. As I arrived on South Capitol Street I strained my eyes for a crane at the streetcar maintenance facility a few blocks away, but . . . nothing. Disappointed, I drove on, planning to turn around and go home. And then I saw it: a streetcar--on the opposite side of the street from the maintenance facility! I blinked, as if it were a mirage. As I approached I realized its headlights were on. What could this mean? Quickly I whipped the Jeep onto a weedy shoulder, grabbed the camera, and jumped out. 

As I approached the streetcar, the motorman stepped out and upbraided me. "This is private property! You're on private property!" I said I was taking pictures for my streetcar blog, he harrumphed, and walked across the street.
After a couple of minutes he returned and climbed aboard. I had no idea what was about to happen.
Suddenly, the destination board lit up. And then, "Clang! Clang!"--an electronic bell mimicking those in vintage streetcars. I nearly soiled myself. And then . . . the streetcar began to move!

What do you suppose the people in those cars stopped by the traffic signal thought when they saw a streetcar roll out onto South Capitol? An apparition? Too much strong drink at lunch?

It was over so quickly--only a few minutes. Did I really see a streetcar crossing South Capitol Street on the maintenance spur?
The end of the Anacostia Line on South Capitol Street (view is southward).
Supporting hardwire for the electric contact wire, neatly assembled. I wondered what an ice storm might do to the delicate-looking structure.
Looking north from the Anacostia Line's end-of-track. My next report: Testing the streetcar shakes up life along H Street NE.


  1. Does the open end of he track imply they will be extending the service southward? When does full service begin?

    I enjoyed the photos very much; thank you, and Happy New Year!

  2. It does. From the initial DDOT System Plan document (2010), "The Anacostia Initial Line Segment is a .75 mile streetcar line from 2750 South Capitol St to the Anacostia Metro. It will connect the Naval Annex to Barry Farm and then the Anacostia Metro station." So far, however, the line does not reach the Anacostia Metro, nor is there any work underway to extend it into the Naval Annex. DDOT is using it only to test streetcars before placing them into revenue service.