Metro Chief Walks Back Talk Of Closing Lines For 6 Months

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The Washington, D.C., metro is not planning to close lines for six months, according to the general manager who walked backed earlier statements Tuesday about future mass shutdowns on the transit system after major commuter push back.

Paul Wiedefeld previously said long-term closures would be needed to fix electrical and structural issues in the various tunnels around the city. D.C.’s metro service is having a tumultuous start to 2016, suffering a track fire, multiple days of single tracked service and the infamous full day shutdown of the metro in early March for repairs. Wiedefeld said the system is in a “dire” situation and would not last if repairs were done in a piecemeal fashion, but is now clarifying his position, reports WJLA.

“I don’t see any need for a long closure of any part of the system,” Wiedefeld told reporters after a meeting with the Montgomery County Council. “I don’t see anything that would require anything near a six month shutdown. Clearly, if we had more time in the evening through the morning hours, that would help tremendously.”

Wiedefeld will unveil more of his plan in the coming weeks to repair the city’s transit system, which he estimates will take roughly two years. Instead of blanket shutdowns of entire lines, Wiedefeld says passengers can expect smaller, but more frequent delays. He suggested tracks between stations could be closed for a few weeks, and floated the idea of tightening daily metro schedules to allow more time for overnight repairs, reports The Washington Post.

Trains may also be single tracked for longer than a few weeks, which will disrupt morning and evening commuting efficiency. Wiedefeld said metro buses would take on a greater role to alleviate delays. Residents thrashed the metro after comments last week from Council Member Jack Evans, who also chairs the D.C. metro, naming specific lines for half-year closures. (RELATED: DC Metro May Close Lines For MONTHS To Deal With Deep Disrepair)

“There may be decisions where we need to close down whole lines and repair them,” Evans said at a meeting, where he requested $1 billion in additional metro funding. “It may come to the point where we have to close the entire Blue Line for six months. If we do nothing, 10 years from now, the system won’t be running.”

Wiedefeld did not initially contradict the statement, saying he needed to keep all options open. Evans’s comments ignited a firestorm however, which Wiedefeld appears to be trying to quell.

“We’ve laid out a two-year time frame,” Wiedefeld told the Montgomery Council. “To me, it’s like, you know, maybe we’ve got to tighten that up and get that done as quickly as we can and just reduce those risks even further.”

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