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Feds Order DC Metro To Take Urgent Action On Three Dangerous Tracks

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) ordered D.C. Metro Wednesday to immediately fix three sections of track representing danger points in the transit system, forcing Metro officials to push back their ambitious plan for a system-wide maintenance overhaul.

The red line track between Medical Center and Van Ness, the blue, orange and silver line track between Stadium Armory and Benning Road, and the orange and silver line track between Ballston and East Falls Church pose immediate danger and must be fixed, reports NBC Washington. Inspections by FTA officials between April 23 and May 10 revealed nine safety threats involving smoke and fires.

The repairs must be made before Metro officials can take any further action on the plan, which will delay General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s year-long SafeTrack plan to repair the entire system. (RELATED: Transportation Sec Threatens DC Metro With Full Shutdown)

“While the draft SafeTrack plan issued by Metro GM Wiedefeld last week was based on the professional judgement of engineers with a priority on safety, the FTA has directed Metro to make changes,” Metro said in a statement to NBC4. “As such, the draft plan will be modified. The final SafeTrack plan will be released as soon as possible, but likely will not be ready by the original target date of May 16.”

The FTA gave Metro officials an ultimatum Saturday to fix a range of safety issues after a track explosion shut down two stations. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said Tuesday he strongly considered shutting down the system last week after the fire, but instead chose to hand down a strict timeline for fixes. Foxx said he will still consider a full shutdown if Metro fails to meet the May 16 deadline. (RELATED: Fireball On DC Metro Leads FTA To Slap Officials With Safety Ultimatum)

Federal officials were troubled with Metro’s lackluster response to the fire incident. The FTA found officials responded slowly and misdiagnosed the mechanical failure which sparked the explosion. The Rail Operations Control Center (ROCC) also prevented federal inspectors from entering the tunnel as they sent crowded commuter trains over the dangerous track.

If they fail to meet the deadline, Foxx said either funding will be cut or the system will be shut down.

“It’s up to them,” Foxx said Tuesday. “They have to follow the directive. They have to do it expeditiously.”

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