The Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, and East Falls Church stations will all be closed from 10:00 p.m. Friday to system closing on Monday (Memorial Day). The closures will allow crews to perform switch replacements, rail joint eliminations and tie and insulator renewal, Metro said.
Orange Line trains will operate between Ballston and New Carrollton at normal weekend intervals.
Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Ballston and Vienna. Express buses will run directly from Ballston to Vienna and back, while local buses will stop at all the stations in between. Metro says those taking local buses should add up to 40 minutes to their travel time, while those taking the express bus should add 25 minutes.
In September, the county is expected to award a design/build contract for a new elevator that will run directly into the station from the southwestern corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street, near the Pentagon City mall.
The elevator will complement an existing elevator on the southeast corner of the intersection.
About 95 percent of the $5 million project will be funded with state and federal funds. The county is hoping that the elevator will be open by Nov. 2014.
Also this year, the county is hoping to award a contract to refurbish and reopen an abandoned pedestrian tunnel that connects the northeast corner of the Hayes/12th intersection to the Metro station’s mezzanine.
The county is hoping to finalize the design of the refurbished tunnel — the design process has been on-going for nearly a decade — and to put the project out for bid by the end of the year.
The tunnel could reopen by the winter of 2014.
Arlington County Transportation Director Dennis Leach suggested that the project has been made more complicated thanks to the tunnel’s proximity to the headquarters of the Transportation Security Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“We’re still working through a few remaining design issues and we have to conclude some property-related negotiations,” he said. “It is a very complicated small project. That tunnel was built as part of a site plan development. We have to work with the adjacent property owner and the adjacent tenants.”
With nearly 35,000 combined entries and exits on an average weekday, the Pentagon City Metro station is the second-busiest Metro station in Arlington — second only to Rosslyn.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Track work will close Metro stations along the Orange Line this weekend, for the third time in the past month. This time the Ballston and Virginia Square stations will be out of service.
The closures begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17, and run through closing on Sunday, May 19. Trains are expected to operate at normal weekend intervals even though service will be split into two segments — between Vienna and East Falls Church and between Clarendon and New Carrollton.
Free shuttle buses will replace trains between East Falls Church and Clarendon. Customers using shuttle bus service should add up to 25 minutes to their travel time.
The last trains of the night from Vienna to East Falls Church will depart 28 minutes earlier than normal — at 1:57 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and at 10:57 p.m. on Sunday.
The Orange Line closures are to allow for track circuit module replacement. There will also be work on the Red and Green lines this weekend. Information regarding those closures can be found on WMATA’s website.
The Ballston Business Improvement District expressed concern about the timing of the Ballston Metro station closure, considering the Taste of Arlington festival is expected to bring around 20,000 people to that area on Sunday.
Members of the BID have worked out a deal with WMATA. The station closures will remain in effect and passengers will still need to take shuttles between East Falls Church and Clarendon. However, starting around 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, additional shuttles will be put into service to accommodate the heavier flow of passengers expected to travel to Taste of Arlington, which begins at noon.
“They will add a whole crew of buses to the schedule for Sunday so they can ensure that nobody is waiting too long and can get to their destination in a timely fashion,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We’re not the first group this has happened to. They’ve assured us they will monitor the buses in making sure they’re arriving and leaving at a rapid rate. We’re just thrilled they were so responsive and so accommodating.”
Leone added that the bus trip is only about 10 minutes, so hopefully festival attendees won’t experience too many delays. Those who prefer to drive to the event should note that the cost is only one dollar for three hours to park at the Ballston garage.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The incident happened just before 9:00 a.m. Police responded to the station for a report of suspicious activity — a man seen walking around on the track bed. Power was briefly taken down to the station’s “third rail” as a precaution. The man eventually climbed back up to the platform.
Police questioned the man and it turned out that that he had hopped down to the tracks to retrieve a farecard he accidentally dropped, according to WMATA spokesman Dan Stesssel. The man was not injured and there was no malicious intent. Power was restored and trains were not delayed.
Stessel said the man’s actions were “incredibly ill advised.” If you drop something on the tracks, he said, don’t take matters into your own hands — contact a station manager.
“If you drop something on the tracks, the station manager can help you,” said Stessel. “The station managers have special equipment that can be used to safely retrieve an item without leaving the platform. Entering the track bed puts you at risk of electrocution (you don’t even have to touch the third rail for power to transfer) or getting struck by a train.”
Flickr photo by John Pastor
The agency says this weekend is a “working weekend” in its $5.5 billion maintenance initiative. Work is taking place on the Blue, Orange, Yellow and Red lines.
On the Orange Line, East Falls Church is among four Virginia stations that will be closed to allow for work on the Silver Line and rail infrastructure improvements.
“Shuttle buses will operate between Vienna and Ballston on two routes: Express buses will operate non-stop between Vienna and Ballston stations. Customers using express buses should add about 25 minutes to their travel time,” WMATA said on its website. “Local buses will operate between Vienna and Ballston, with intermediate stops at Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. Customers using local buses should add up to 40 minutes to their travel time.”
On the Blue and Yellow lines, rail infrastructure improvements will result in single-tracking between Braddock Road and Pentagon City.
“Throughout the weekend, both Blue and Yellow Line trains will operate every 30 minutes,” said WMATA. “During daytime hours, additional Yellow Line trips will operate between Pentagon City and Mt. Vernon Square stations, resulting in service every 15 to 20 minutes between those stations.”
The Red Line work will result in trains running every 28 minutes. The service changes will be in place until system closing on Sunday night.
The incident happened at 2:52 p.m., when the man intentionally climbed down to the tracks and stood there, about 15 seconds prior to a train entering the station, according to WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel.
“The train operator saw the man and stopped the train in time,” Stessel told ARLnow.com. “Third rail power was taken down, and the man climbed back onto the platform under the supervision of the train operator and the station manager.”
“The man was not injured,” Stessel continued. “He was transported to the hospital for a psychological evaluation.”
Orange Line delays from the incident have since been cleared, according to WMATA.
Photo via @mikekap3
The Blue Line will single track between Arlington Cemetery and Foggy Bottom to allow for fiber-optic cable installation. Orange Line trains will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom, also to allow for fiber-optic cable installation.
Trains on both lines will run every 26 minutes between 10:00 tonight (Friday) and system closing on Sunday.
Delays due to maintenance work are also expected on the Red and Green lines. Metro says the work is part of its larger infrastructure “rebuilding” effort.
“Metro is investing $5.5 billion to install new rail, ties, platforms, escalators, signals, lighting, communication systems, and more,” the agency said in a press release. “It represents the largest capital investment — and work effort — since the system’s original construction in the early 1970s.”
Arlington County officials are pressing forward with plans for a Columbia Pike streetcar system, despite the federal government’s initial rejection of the county’s funding request due to projected cost overruns.
Officials explained last night, at a County Board meeting, that the Federal Transit Administration rejected its request for $75 million in grant funding because the total project cost was estimated to exceed the $250 million — the cap for projects to receive funding under the FTA’s Small Starts program.
Though pegged by the county at $245.9 million, a contractor hired by the FTA estimated the project cost to instead be between $255.9 and $402.4 million, including contingencies, and thus ineligible for a Small Starts grant. The contractor said $310.1 million was “a most likely cost.”
County officials said the contractor’s report and a subsequent in-person meeting with senior FTA staff lead them to believe the project is still likely to receive federal funding.
“They made it very clear that their action wasn’t based on the merits of the project,” Arlington County Transportation Director Dennis Leach told the Board. “It was really that technical factor that they felt our cost estimate was likely to be somewhat higher.”
Arlington will actually be eligible to receive more than the initially-requested $75 million in federal funding if it applies under the FTA’s New Starts program. Unlike Small Starts, New Starts doesn’t have a cap on total project cost.
“If the county were to choose to reapply as a New Start, the project could qualify for more federal funding,” said Stephen Del Giudice, Arlington County Transit Bureau Chief. ”We have a high likelihood of success in addressing the goals of the project.”
“What’s clear at this point is that changes to the evaluation criteria will most likely have a positive impact on FTA’s future rating of our project,” echoed Brian Stout, the county’s federal liaison. ”We’ll continue… to work with our partners at FTA to identify federal opportunities for them to support the Columbia Pike streetcar project.”
Even before the report on the FTA’s rationale for its decision, County Board Chair Walter Tejada said the county was not abandoning plans for the streetcar.
“Moving forward with a modern streetcar is our stated policy, and that’s what we’re committed to doing,” Tejada said. “We can repeat it many times, but nothing’s going to change.”
Tejada’s vote of confidence for the project came after Libby Garvey, the lone streetcar critic on the five-member County Board, gave a PowerPoint highlighting problems with other streetcar systems around the country. News reports cited by Garvey include:
- Walking is often faster than riding streetcar in Portland (The Oregonian)
- Portland streetcar fare revenue nearly 50 percent below projections (The Oregonian)
- Tampa streetcars could require city subsidy (Tampa Tribune)
- Cincinnati streetcar facing $26 million cost overrun (Cincinnati Herald)
- Tucson streetcar operating costs 4 times initial estimate (Arizona Daily Star)
“I have not made up the articles, I have not made up the facts,” Garvey said. “These facts are facts. They’re inconvenient, but true.”
Update at 3:20 p.m. — The package has been determined to be non-hazardous and the all-clear has been given.
Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is on the scene of a suspicious package outside the Pentagon City Metro station.
Police have established a perimeter around the package, located behind a fence adjacent to a pedestrian sidewalk, near the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street. A bomb squad member in protective gear has walked over to the package and it is now apparently being inspected or analyzed remotely.
The east entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station, next to the Pentagon Centre shopping center, is closed.
The stations will close beginning today at 10:00 p.m. and running through closing on Sunday. The closures allow for track circuit replacement, which is a safety measure recommended by the NTSB.
Trains will operate every 15 minutes in two segments: between Vienna and Virginia Square, and between Rosslyn and New Carrollton. There will be free shuttle buses to take passengers between stops from Virginia Square to Rosslyn. Customers using the shuttles should add 15 minutes to their travel time.
To allow for shuttle bus connections, the last train from Vienna to Virginia Square will depart 31 minutes earlier than normal on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The train will leave Vienna at 2:05 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 11:05 p.m. on Sunday.
Riders on the Blue and Yellow lines should also expect delays. Trains will be single tracking between Braddock Road and Pentagon City due to maintenance such as rail tie, fastener and insulator renewal. Blue and Yellow trains will operate every 30 minutes.
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Metro Transit Police have stepped up patrols in response to this afternoon’s deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.
“Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik has ordered all day-shift patrol officers to remain on duty through this evening’s rush hour to increase the security posture of the transit system,” Metro said in a press release. “Metro is taking this step in an abundance of caution. There is no specific or credible threat against the Metro system at this time.”
“Customers are urged to report suspicious activity or unattended packages by calling Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121,” Metro said. “Metro Transit Police continue to monitor events in Boston and will take appropriate measures to heighten security.”
Outside the Pentagon City Metro this afternoon, two Metro Transit Police officers watched riders enter and exit the station. One had military-style rifle and the other had a police dog.
So far, Arlington County Police do not have specific plans to step up staffing levels or patrols, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Arlington’s bomb squad also has not made any staffing changes, according to fire department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Local residents who have friends and loved ones at the Boston Marathon, meanwhile, have been using the Facebook pages of local running stores like Pacers and Potomac River Running to keep track of their whereabouts and well-being.
Around 10:30 a.m., the 20-year-old Arlington resident “intentionally placed himself in path of arriving Blue Line train at Rosslyn,” according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. The train operator applied the emergency brakes and the man only suffered a non-life-threatening leg injury, Stessel said.
The man was transported to George Washington University hospital.
Blue and Orange Line trains were single-tracking between the Clarendon and Foggy Bottom Metro stations after the accident. Normal two-track operations resumed around 11:45 a.m., but residual delays were reported.
The Federal Transit Administration has declined Arlington and Fairfax County’s joint application for funding for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar system.
In a press release (below), both counties say they will continue pursuing federal funding for the streetcar.
Arlington and Fairfax Counties have been informed that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not included the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project in its Small Starts program for Fiscal Year 2014. The FTA today released its FY 2014 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations.
Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada today reaffirmed the County’s commitment to the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project and noted that the County has not received any official evaluation of the project or explanation for the FTA’s decision. He cautioned against speculating about the reasons for the FTA’s action pending clarification.
“Arlington, in partnership with Fairfax County, is committed to building a modern streetcar line along Columbia Pike as the best long term transit investment,” Tejada said. “We will continue to explore all financing options, including federal financing. While we are disappointed at not being included this year, we believe our application was strong, and will continue to work with FTA for inclusion into the Small Starts/New Starts program.”
“The Pike streetcar will address the community’s needs by providing greater capacity on one of the Commonwealth’s most heavily traveled corridors,” Tejada said. “It will encourage more people to use transit, will reduce congestion, help us meet our affordable housing goals, and will support the sort of development that the community wants.”
Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross reaffirmed Fairfax County’s commitment as well. “The Columbia Pike Streetcar Project is vitally important to the economic revitalization of Columbia Pike and the Skyline/Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County, which has long desired connection to a rail transit network,” Gross said. “Although I am disappointed that our joint application for Small Starts funding was not approved this year, I am confident that the strong community and business support for the project and the long collaborative partnership between Fairfax and Arlington counties will merit federal funding in the future.”
Project work on the Columbia Pike Streetcar continues, including conceptual engineering and environmental efforts to finalize project facilities and secure required environmental approvals.
Streetcar funding to come from variety of sources
Arlington and Fairfax applied to the FTA’s Small Starts program in September 2012. The program offers up to $75 million in funding for projects costing less than $250 million to design and build. The funding plan for the Streetcar relies on a combination of federal, state and local funding, with Arlington’s local funding coming from the tax on commercial properties that is dedicated to transportation. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell recently signed into law a new transportation funding bill that makes more money available to Northern Virginia for infrastructure investments such as the streetcar.
In the spring of 2006, both the Arlington County Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed a streetcar line for Columbia Pike that would stretch nearly five miles from Pentagon City to the Skyline Drive area of Fairfax County. The streetcar would serve a corridor that is in the midst of a dramatic transformation into a more transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, vibrant Main Street, a vision developed through years of community planning. Arlington’s plan for the streetcar includes an aggressive plan to preserve affordable housing and diversity along the Pike.
Both the Arlington and Fairfax boards reaffirmed their decisions in the summer of 2012, when they chose streetcar as the locally preferred alternative for Columbia Pike and opted to apply for federal funding under the FTA’s New Starts/Small Starts program.
To learn more about the Columbia Pike Streetcar, visit the County website.
Metro is organizing the event in advance of the Silver Line’s expected completion and opening late this year. The public is invited to learn about changes to Orange and Blue Line service that will accompany the Silver Line’s opening, and to speak with and ask questions of Metro officials.
The open house is taking place at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway) from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. this coming Saturday, March 16.
In addition to the informational portion of the event, there will be children’s activities, free snacks and and a raffle. The Arlington open house is one of three planned this week.
The Silver Line will at first run to Tysons Corner and Reston. A second phase of the project, which will take several more additional years to build, will connect with Dulles International Airport.
There are significant delays on the Blue and Yellow lines due to a track problem near Reagan National Airport.
The delays are impacting both inbound and outbound trains on both lines. From WMATA:
Metrorail customers on the Blue and Yellow lines will experience delays of approximately
2030-35 minutes this morning as trains share a single track between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Shortly before 5 a.m., an accidental leak of hydraulic fluid on the outbound track created a slippery condition for trains. Personnel are on the scene working to clear the fluid to allow two-track train operations to resume. The clean up effort is expected to last through rush hour.