Streetcar drill on H Street NE corridor

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Police, Metro Fire, and DDOT all responded to a crash on H Street early Sunday morning. The good news is, it was fake. Sunday crews conducted a Street Car exercise along H Street NW between 12th and 13th Streets. preparing for the start of the city's new street cars.

As part of the exercise, firefighters used the jaws of life to remove a "victim" from a vehicle. The exercise scenario involved a street car-motor vehicle accident and derailment where crews also used a hydraulic machine to get the street car back on its tracks.

"We've done this out in our training facility in Anacostia, but this is the first time we've done this on the corridor," said DDOT Spokesperson, Cherie Gibson.

Steve Zike, the DDOT Safety and System Integration Manager said, "The overall goal is to make sure we have the proper procedures in place to be able to respond to an emergency incident."

The agencies that participated Sunday are the same agencies that would normally respond to an emergency such as this. However the difference here is, with street cars appended to their rails there's now even more pressure to clear the scene, while still conducting a thorough investigation.

Every street car stopped means more traffic back-ups, not to mention the delay of each car after it. What DDOT says would help prevent scenes like this is awareness.

"The biggest thing probably it's a communication process. If you're not familiar with one, if you haven't seen one in a while, you're not necessarily going to know how it's going to behave," said Zike.

While the exercise may help spread awareness, it certainly caught a few people by surprise Sunday. Some neighbors watching the simulated accident scene first thought it was real and quickly became worried.

Many of them breathed a sigh of huge relief after learning the body lying in the street was actually a dummy and part of the exercise.

"You know, it caught me off guard," said Orlando Williams, who later shared his opinion on the new street cars with WUSA9. "It'll put D.C. a little more on the map, but then again, I think it's going to make the streets a little crowded," he said.

Another spectator, Charlton Woodyard, said, "At $21 million a mile, this is a waste of money. We've got one of the best mass transit systems in the world and so it doesn't make any sense to me to complicate or add to it by adding a rail system that is very limited."

Not everyone feels the same. Lyron Cabell tells WUSA9 he thinks the new street cars will be great for the area but added a, "We'll just have to wait and see."

DDOT plans to open the new street cars to the public before the New Year. They may also plan another exercise before then but so far, no announcements have been made.


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