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DC Officials Warn Virginia Metro Riders To Brace For ‘Around-The-Clock’ Single-Tracking

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) repairs resume Wednesday with continuous train single-tracking on parts of the Orange and Silver lines and is expected to severally disrupt service for Virginia commuters.

Metro officials will initiate “around-the-clock” single-tracking for trains running between the Ballston and East Falls Chruch stations to engage in repairs similar to the maintenance work conducted during the first SafeTrack surge. Surge 1 repairs focused on the opposite line of track between the two stations. Surge 5 repairs will last 12 days, beginning Wednesday and ending July 31, according to The Washington Post.

“The replacement of nearly 2,000 deteriorated wooden rail ties and renewal of 3,100 linear feet of rail infrastructure was completed in the same segment of the orange and silver lines during Surge 1, on the opposite track,” read a statement from WMATA officials Tuesday. “Over the next twelve days, similar work will be completed on the outbound track with a focus on repairing or replacing critical rail infrastructure that affects reliability, safety and ride quality.”

The repairs will affect roughly 73,000 weekday commuters, and riders coming into the city from Virginia are expected to bear the brunt of the impact. The first round of repairs devastated commutes, causing massive delays, crowded platforms and an increase in traffic congestion as riders took to the roadways. (RELATED: DC Commuters Abandon Metro, Making Already Horrible Traffic Even Worse)

Officials are warning riders to consider alternate routes amid the repairs. Orange and Silver trains will run once every 18 minutes to the Ballston station.

Track breakdowns marked the first rush hour commute during Surge 1 SafeTrack repairs in early June, hitting commuters with massive delays throughout the transit system.

WMATA officials said ridership at the Ballston station, a hub for many commuters, fell over 27 percent during the first round repairs. Officials hope riders will be better prepared for Surge 5 repairs over the next 12 days of work.

Officials are dealing with fresh criticisms of WMATA’s safety culture after federal inspectors overseeing the plagued system found 109 safety issues and violations of worker policy during the first two rounds of SafeTrack repairs. (RELATED: DC Metro Repairs Are Still Flouting Safety Standards, Ignoring Threats)

Inspectors with the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) said 34 of those maintenance issues have not been fixed by workers. Eight defects between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations and 26 defects between the Eastern Market and Benning Road stations have yet to be addressed.

The FTA took control of oversight for the D.C. metro system in October, following several safety failures including the death of a woman who suffocated during a tunnel track fire. Since federal oversight began, FTA officials have conducted more than 200 inspections of the system, finding more than 1,100 track defects. Many of those defects have yet to be addressed by WMATA officials.

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