Families of the nine people who died in the 2009 Fort Totten train crash are on the way to getting their wish for a permanent memorial to their loved ones.
The District is seeking proposals from artists and architects to build a memorial at a small park off New Hampshire Avenue right along the Metro tracks where one Red Line train slammed into another on June 22, 2009, killing nine people and injuring an estimated 80 more.
Kenneth Hawkins, who lost his brother Dennis in the crash, has been calling for a memorial for the families since the first anniversary.
"The mayor's office should be commended for taking the lead on this effort," Hawkins said. "It's a great step in the healing process for the community."
So far the victims' families have used a makeshift memorial at the nearby bridge over the tracks.
Last year at the second anniversary, Metro had unveiled a plaque at the Fort Totten Metro station, but it was taken as a tone-deaf gesture to families already angered by the transit agency. They called the placement inappropriate.
"They never made it to Fort Totten," said Carolyn Jenkins, who lost her daughter Veronica DuBose in the crash.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray pledged at the emotional anniversary ceremony to turn a nearby park into a memorial as the families wanted. "Let me make a commitment today that it will be done," Gray had said. "If we can't do this, we ought to turn in our badges."
Designs for the memorial are slated to be unveiled at this year's anniversary event. The final project is supposed to be ready next year, in time for the fourth anniversary.
The artists are competing for a budget of $165,000 to design and create the artwork, with no more than $16,500 of that as the artist fee. But the overall construction could cost as much as $1 million, according to the call for proposals.
The memorial is intended to offer a place to reflect for the victims' families, the 80-some people who were injured and the first responders whose lives were also altered by the crash.
The memorial project is slated to include a marker, seating, a walkway, solar lighting, a "sculptural" piece of artwork and a play area. Twelve children lost parents in the crash.