Delayed D.C. Streetcar system opens
Constructed by a joint venture of M.C...
After more than ten years and multiple delays, the first segment of Washington D.C.'s streetcar line opens.
Constructed by a joint venture of M.C. Dean, Inc., and Facchina Construction Co., Inc., with Systra and Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT) as lead designers, the 2.2-mile east-west segment between the Anacostia River and Union Station is the start of what the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) envisions as a 37-mile network.
As the population in D.C. continues to increase and more people are beginning to use public transport to move around the city.
While most of the startup segment’s infrastructure has been in place for more than a year, an American Public Transportation Association peer review released last June identified various critical issues—including cracked rails, variances in platform angles, conflicts with moving and parked vehicles, and problematic rolling stock mechanical systems—that required attention before the streetcar line could open.
Those delays were compounded by a process of testing and operational approvals by federal and District regulators, with the final sign-offs completed in early February.
The line’s five streetcars are now running six days a week with 15-minute headways, and at no charge while a fare collection system is developed. Initial projections of 1,500 passengers a day are dwarfed by the corridor’s bus service, which handles 12,000 passengers daily.
G7 launches global infrastructure investment for China’s BRI
The G7 Group has launched an infrastructure investment push aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The launch took place during the G7 summit in Cornwall. While no extra state funding for infrastructure schemes had been confirmed, the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) plan, part of the G7’s infrastructure investment, looked to attract private finance.
The summit’s communiqué described the plan as a “step change” in nations’ approach to infrastructure financing, while the White House said the B3W plan would be able to cover Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s programme to build both physical and digital infrastructure to connect several countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
It was adopted in 2013 by the Chinese government as a way of expanding the nation’s global influence. China’s motives for the plan include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and the protection of its political and social stability system. China is also using the plan to ensure continued economic and social development.
Why is the G7 Group competing with China?
While the reason for countering China’s BRI plan has not specifically been stated, official documents have suggested that it could be due to transparency, good governance, and “values”. However, in the past, the US has criticised the BRI projects, saying that they lack these qualities. Other opposition groups in recipient countries have also criticised the plan.
“Until now, we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business … [B3W] won't just be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe will beat the BRI by offering a higher-quality choice”, a senior administration official said in a news briefing.
However, a G7 spokesperson for the UK argued that there was more to the investment push than competing with China. He said: “This project stands on its own merits and is in line with the G7’s priorities on ensuring the world builds back better and greener from the pandemic”.
.Whether or not the G7’s investment initiative will be able to match China’s BRI is unclear, but a 2018 report from ICBC Standard Bank shows that after the first five years of the programme, some $330bn of transport and $266bn of energy projects were announced, underway or complete.