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Only On 9: DC's Streetcar Project Halted For Now | News

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Only On 9: DC's Streetcar Project Halted For Now

WASHINGTON DC (WUSA) -- Contractors have been ordered to put the first phase of a $25 million pilot streetcar project in Anacostia into mothballs before work is complete, according to four sources close to the project.

"They've told them to stop work, clean up, and make the site safe," said one of the sources who does not want to be identified.

The project has been under construction for two years. Wednesday, rails on one end of the project disappeared under asphalt at the intersection of Firth Stirling Avenue SE and Suitland Parkway. At the other end, unfinished rails jutted into weeds on the way to Bolling Air Force Base at South Capitol Street.

THE GRAND PLAN: DDOT's Master Plan For DC Streetcars (PDF)

EXPENSIVE EFFORT: DC Shows Off Its New Streetcars (May 2010)

A spokesman for D.C.'s Department of Transportation says the developments do not mean the project is being killed.

"Work is continuing," said DDOT spokesman John Lisle. "We are moving forward."

Lisle says the contract for the first phase of the job has expired and will not be extended. Now officials are considering wether to fold the unfinished work into a new phase.

"As we move forward we will be looking at a number of options to make the project more cost effective," Lisle said. "That could include combining some of the remaining work on Phase I with the Phase II construction in a design-build contract."

Lisle said managers are hopeful construction costs will be reduced from the phase 1 contract because of the faltering economy.

Bids have not yet been requested for the next phase, which will extend the newly built rails to the Anacostia Metro, according to Lisle who did not have cost estimates.

Streetcars have already been purchased by the District.

Lisle says the plan remains to have them running on the Anacostia demonstration project by the end of 2012.

Political supporters of streetcars are unphased by DDOT's move. "The timing may change somewhere along the line," said Tommy Wells, a Democrat on the DC City Council who represents Ward 6, "but we're building out a streetcar plan for Washington."