Next Round Of DC Metro Repairs Cuts Key Access To Reagan National Airport

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Washington, D.C., commuters will face two weeks of track shutdowns on key Metro lines leading to Reagan National Airport after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, as the next phase of SafeTrack repairs gets underway.

The next surge of track work is estimated to impact roughly 50,000 riders and will reduce service on Metro lines south of the Pentagon by roughly 50 percent. Metro will close the blue and yellow line tracks between Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road stations starting July 5 and ending July 11. The blue and yellow lines will then shutdown July 12 for a week between Reagan National Airport and Pentagon City, affecting roughly 86,000 riders, reports The Washington Post.

Blue and yellow line trains will run once every 12 minutes. Metrobuses will reroute during shutdowns to deal with crowds, however riders are encouraged to make alternate travel plans. (RELATED: The 5 Worst DC Metro Closures To Expect This Summer)

“Make no doubt about it, this is going to impact all passengers coming in and out of Reagan National, regardless of whether they rely upon WMATA and the Metro system for access to the airport,” Margaret McKeough, chief operating officer for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said Tuesday at a press conference. “We’re having record passenger activity levels at Reagan National this year that have already proved a taxing situation for our roadway system as well as all of our modes of transportation. Please plan ahead, and plan wisely.”

In addition to the full shutdown of rail service between Reagan National Airport and Pentagon City, the Crystal City station will close beginning July 12. Commuters travelling from Virginia are expected to bear the brunt of delays, but the maintenance will impact travel times throughout the Metro system. Metro access to Reagan National Airport will be severed for the better part of July and travelers will need to plan accordingly. (RELATED: Major DC Metro Repair Effort Kicks Off With Track Failure, Massive Delays)

Officials say roughly 20 percent of travelers flying out of Reagan National Airport and roughly 700 airport employees use the Metro to get there.

“We’re calling on all Blue and Yellow line riders in this area to avoid the Metro where possible,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Tuesday at a press conference. “Telecommute, bike, carshare, slug, whatever you can do to reduce the strain on the system and to make your ride a little smoother. It has a major impact because you’re cutting service totally.”

Riders were largely unprepared for the effects of SafeTrack when repairs began in early June. Metro officials warned before repairs began that riders were underestimating the magnitude of the effort, which is estimated to cost $60 million. Commuters heeded warnings for the second phase of SafeTrack repairs, opting for the roadways, Uber or bike sharing services. (RELATED: DC Commuters Abandon Metro, Making Already Horrible Traffic Even Worse)

Commuters turned to D.C.’s bike sharing service in record numbers amid the debilitating delays caused by SafeTrack repairs. District Department of Transportation (DDOT) officials said during the first week of SafeTrack repairs that Capital Bikeshare had 89,436 riders, a six percent increase over Bikeshare’s previous record-setting week. Commuters are also turning to the roadways in greater numbers, adding to already long rush-hour delays. The Virginia Department of Transportation said highways leading into the District are seeing a large spike in traffic.

Repairs are generally ahead of schedule according to Metro officials, who are touting the success of early SafeTrack maintenance. Overall, Metro is seeing a decline in ridership as commuters make alternative plans to avoid the repairs. Metro ridership has decreased by roughly 4.5 percent throughout the system since Surge 2 repairs began.

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