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Federal Investigators Are Still Getting Barred Access By DC Metro Employees

(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Employees with the D.C. Metro continue to spar with federal investigators conducting safety reviews, denying inspectors access to the transit system.

Officials from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which has federal oversight of the D.C. Metro, recently reported ongoing problems with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) workers when attempting to do reviews of the system.

One instance involved an area of track known to have deteriorating rail ties that was supposed to be fixed following the July 29 derailment of a silver line train. FTA inspector Medenia Dashiell arrived at the Braddock Road station to conduct a review Aug. 15 and presented WMATA workers with full credentials, but still ran into friction, reports The Washington Post.

After being denied access to the platform twice by the station manager, Dashiell managed to get through and found the necessary track repairs were never completed.

“I walked the entire station platform and noted several ties that were so deteriorated that ballast was pushing through the top,” Dashiell wrote in a report.

It remains unclear if D.C. Metro workers have made the necessary fixes on the tracks at Braddock Road since the incident in August. The FTA released a report in June documenting 15 instances where inspectors were denied access to trains, platforms and the Rail Operations Control Center despite carrying proper credentials. Metro officials say the problems revealed in the June report have been dealt with.

“During the transition to FTA oversight, WMATA and FTA identified a need to establish a protocol for FTA access to WMATA property,” Sherri Ly, a Metro spokesman, told The Washington Post. “That protocol is now in place and we have heard no further concerns.”

FTA inspectors also found that throughout SafeTrack repair surges over the summer, D.C. Metro officials did not follow any organized pattern for train scheduling, essentially making it up. The report details numerous instances where outbound trains ran consecutively while inbound trains were held in tunnels leaving commuters stranded on overcrowded platforms.

“WMATA did not have a clear pattern of where trains were going today,” observed a FTA inspector during Surge 1 repairs. “Twice they had four trains in a row run on right side toward D.C. while holding a Vienna train in the tunnel for 10 minutes.”

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