D.C. Metro Riders Should Expect Long-Term Delays and Shutdowns Due to Massive Repairs

In May, the Washington D.C. Patch reported on Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld’s announcement that a massive repair effort has begun on the city’s rail system. This undertaking will result in long-term shutdowns affecting entire sections of a track at a time, making commutes more difficult for many of the 700,000 people who use the transportation network every day. The Metro expects the work to condense a three-year rehabilitation project into one year. It will involve the complete subway with the exception of new parts of the Silver Line.

Wiedefeld said the schedule involves the closure of the rail system at midnight seven days a week. During the shutdowns, workers will execute an array of improvements, including replacing rail ties, switches and electrical cables as well as making priority safety enhancements mandated by federal officials.

This major repair plan includes 15 “safety surges” that are expected to cause lengthy track outages, necessitating single tracking or line-segment shutdowns. As the workers aren’t able to make all the repairs during off hours, the project will affect rush-hour commutes, explained Wiedefeld in a press conference. “The goal was not to eliminate any service… If we have to shutdown a station, we will have busses so people have transit,” he noted.

Serious problems have been associated with the 40-year-old subway. In 2009, a faulty sensor led to the crash of two Red Line trains, a tragedy that caused 70 injuries and nine fatalities. Fires and electrical problems have also occurred regularly over the past several months, causing frequent service interruptions. The Metro new management hopes to remedy the troubles stemming from decades of neglect, but it says keeping the system operating will require time along with designated federal funding.

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