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Two Week-Long Track Shutdowns Imminent As DC Metro Reveals Final Repair Plan

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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D.C. Metro officials told passengers to prepare for delays as they roll out their final repair plan to fix the deteriorating system within a year, beginning with single-tracking, a 16-day shutdown of portions of the orange, silver and blue lines and two station closures.

The project begins June 4 when officials will single-track trains between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations. Major service disruptions are expected on all orange and silver line tracks and at the Ballston station in particular due to the maintenance work, which ends June 16. Officials will then initiate a 16-day shutdown of the orange, blue and silver lines between Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road and will close the Stadium-Armory and Potomac Avenue stations until July 3, reports WJLA.

Over the course of the ambitious ten-month repair plan dubbed “SafeTrack,” maintenance crews will work round the clock during a series of 15 scheduled “safety surges” on various sections of the track. Crucial maintenance will happen through a combination of single-tracking, partial line closures and reduced service hours on every line except the newly constructed portions of the silver line.

“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday in a press release. “SafeTrack also includes weeknight work that will require single track operations in sections starting at 8 p.m.; it means closing the system at Midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m. and committing to a moratorium on extra hours of early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.”

Wiedefeld said commuters on every Metro line will experience rush-hour delays and shutdowns of parts of the track at various points of the year, but the planned “long-duration track outages” will allow Metro to complete three years worth of work in just one. (RELATED: DC Metro Unveils Repair Plan Draft That Will Cripple The System For One Year)

Following the 16-day shutdown, Metro will close the blue and yellow line track between Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road stations ending July 11. The blue and yellow lines will then be shutdown July 12 between Reagan National Airport and Pentagon City. Metrobuses will be rerouted during shutdowns to deal with the crowd, however riders are encouraged to prepare for the massive delays.

Officials originally planned to release the final SafeTrack plan Monday, however a safety directive from the Federal Transit Administration delayed their plans. FTA demanded Metro officials immediately fix three sections of track in a letter last Wednesday, following an explosive track fire. Repair plans were put on hold until they could address the concerns of the FTA and fit them into the repair plan.

“I am encouraged by the region’s response to SafeTrack and appreciate the support of business and community leaders, jurisdictional officials, our Congressional delegation and most importantly the riders, who have rallied to help us get through this challenging work,” Wiedefeld said Thursday.  “I also want to recognize FTA for their collaboration and guidance, which is reflected in the final plan.”

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