Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Former D.C. mayor obstructs streetcar effort

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District of Columbia Council member Marion Barry seeks to stall or kill efforts to establish a streetcar line on H Street, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, even as initial construction of the project, located in the district's Northeast quadrant, has gotten under way.

Barry, a former mayor, says the streetcar line is too expensive on a cost-per-rider basis, and cited existing "good bus service" on H Street. He filed a disapproval motion last week which blocked a planned $50 million contract with Dean-Facchina LLC for design and construction of an overhead power system and car barn for the $200 million project.

Council member Mary M. Cheh, chairwoman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation, said Barry's motion could delay the award of the contract by at least 45 days.

Last April the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), in a contract do-over, selected United Streetcar, LLC to supply two streetcars for the line, augmenting three streetcars it already has in storage pending the line’s operational debut.

The H Street/Benning Line, expected to open in 2013, is the first portion of a larger 37-mile streetcar system planned by DDOT.