The Blue Line will be the recipient of the first of Metro’s next generation of trains next month.
The first 7000-series train is scheduled to enter passenger service on Tuesday, April 14, Metro announced today.
“The introduction of the first new train will be the most significant milestone to date for a project that has spanned nearly five years from approval and funding, through design and engineering, to testing and certification,” Metro said today, in a press release.
The brand new eight-car is expected to depart the Franconia-Springfield station shortly after 7:00 a.m. on April 14, serving Blue Line stations in Fairfax County, Alexandria, Arlington County, the District and Prince George’s County. The Blue Line has weathered service cuts since Metro began Silver Line service last summer.
The 7000 series will feature a blue-and-gray interior color scheme and “new technologies that are generations ahead of Metro’s current railcars.” Among the features riders can expect, as detailed by Metro:
- Stainless steel car body for increased durability
- 64 vinyl padded seats and seat-back hand grasps
- Six different station destination signs, including two dynamic LCD route maps and four video screens in each car
- LCD map displays to allow customers to easily track their location
- LED screens that provide current and upcoming station information
- Improved seats that provide more knee room and better lumbar support
- Wider aisles (34 inches verses 32 inches on older cars) to facilitate movement within the car
- Additional space near the doors for standees and wheelchairs
- Resilient nonslip flooring, rather than carpet
- High-tech automated public address systems
- Closed circuit cameras for added safety and security
- More reliable door systems using proven technology
- Added handholds in the door area and vertical poles added at each seat – for a total of 25% more linear feet of bars than in Metro’s 6000-series cars
- Enhanced lighting and privacy screens in the vestibule area
There are also a number of significant new safety features, as outlined in the Metro press release, excerpted after the jump.
For the third time in a week, Arlington County firefighters are responding to the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
D.C. firefighters are also responding to the Foggy Bottom station.
For the second day in a row, Arlington County firefighters are investigating a report of smoke in the Metrorail tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
No smoke was found in the Rosslyn station upon firefighters’ arrival.
ACFD responded to the Rosslyn Metro station last night (Saturday) for a similar report of fire and smoke, in the same part of the tunnel as tonight’s incident. It was later determined that the fire was extinguished after power was cut to the third rail.
The Blue, Orange and Silver lines are single-tracking between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom as a result of the incident. No injuries have been reported.
The Metro tunnel began to leak in the fall because a stormwater-retention system built by the county was overflowing, Metro spokeswoman Caroline Laurin told WUSA9. The county built that system in the median of S. Hayes Street as part of street upgrades for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
WMATA has placed pieces of sheet metal where the leaks are occurring, deflecting the water down the wall and away from passengers.
“When that retention pond overflows, water enters our station,” Laurin told the TV station, which first reported the leaks after seeing a tweet from a curious Metro rider. “This temporary solution will be in place until Arlington County can address the issue with the storm water retention structure.”
Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which oversaw the road construction, said WMATA approved the work it did around the Metro station, and denies that it is to blame for the leaky tunnel.
“It’s not unusual to have leaks in tunnel systems, especially systems like the Pentagon City Metrorail tunnel that are 40 years old,” Katherine Youngbluth, the project manager for the S. Hayes Street improvements, told ARLnow.com in an email. “The rain garden facility that was constructed as part of the County’s Pentagon City Multimodal project (and all other aspects of the project that were adjacent to WMATA facilities) was fully vetted through WMATA’s review and approval process and received a permit for all construction work.”
Youngbluth said the county has known about the leak since the fall, but has only had preliminary talks with WMATA about whose responsibility it is to fix the leak. The county is “continuing to explore technical studies and solutions that are available for an investigation of this type” and doesn’t yet have a timeframe or cost analysis for the repair, she added.
The multimodal improvements wrapped up last year, and included new sidewalks, crosswalks, street lighting, landscaping, new street crossing areas and bicycle amenities to go with the rain garden. The total project cost was $9 million.
Photo via @jurbanchuk
Update at 2:50 p.m. — The Courthouse station will be reopened shortly. A “test train” is being used to see if it’s safe for Metro to start using the affected stretch of track again. Metro and fire department personnel tell ARLnow.com that there were no communication or coordination problems during the incident response.
The Arlington County Fire Department and Metro personnel are on the scene at the Courthouse Metro station due to an electrical issue on the tracks.
The fire was reported just before 2:00 p.m. It’s said to be an insulator fire in a tunnel just outside the Courthouse station, similar to the electrical malfunction that caused smoke to fill a Yellow Line tunnel last month, killing one person.
The station was evacuated and riders exiting the station said it was moderately smoky inside but not stifling. A slight haze and an electrical smell of something burning was also present outside the station for a period of time.
Firefighters were “working with WMATA to shut down power and extinguish” the fire, according to the ACFD Twitter account. Numerous Metro and fire personnel are on the scene. Police have shut down 15th Street near the station.
As of 2:32 p.m., ACFD said the track fire was extinguished there were “light smoke conditions” inside the station. Some fire trucks have started leaving the scene.
Orange and Silver Line trains are single-tracking past the station, according to Metro.
No injuries have been reported.
Fort Myer and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority firefighters also responded to the incident.
Metro has suspended Yellow Line service from between Pentagon City and Mt. Vernon Square. Green Line service is also suspended.
According to Arlington scanner reports, a Yellow Line train is disabled somewhere between the L’Enfant and Pentagon Metro stations. Medics responded to the Pentagon station due to reports of at least one person having difficulty breathing on the train, but the train is being evacuated in D.C. (photos below) and Arlington units have since been released.
A “mass casualty incident” was declared and rescues were being made at L’Enfant, according to the D.C. firefighters union. The mass casualty designation is likely due to the riders stuck on the disabled train, inside a smoke-filled tunnel. The fire that was the source of the smoke has since been extinguished.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles told NBC 4 Tuesday evening that dozens of people have been taken to the hospital, including two people who are in critical condition at George Washington University Hospital. One person died as a result of the incident, Sarles said.
During the incident, Arlington firefighters responded to an electrical room at the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke. It’s unclear if that smoke might have traveled through the tunnels from L’Enfant or is the result of a separate incident. Units on the scene say there’s a smell of smoke but no evacuations are necessary.
Blue, Orange and Silver Line trains are continuing to run through L’Enfant station without stopping, according to Metro. Still, riders should expect major evening rush hour delays.
That was easily the worst metro ride of my life pic.twitter.com/a5EnGeRzMQ
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
— Jonathan Rogers (@JRogers202) January 12, 2015
Commuters hoping to avoid icy roads were met with huge crowds and delays on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines this morning.
A disabled train outside Stadium-Armory at around 8:00 a.m. was when the problems began, resulting in single-tracking on all three lines. According to several commuters on Twitter, a Blue Line train passed Arlington Cemetery and turned around. Some trains were offloaded, forcing passengers back out into frigid weather at outside platforms.
Uber in Arlington was instituting surge pricing at four times the regular rate at one point.
WMATA reported that the train was clear at 8:53 a.m., but residual delays persisted well after 9:00 a.m.
(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) This morning’s commute is officially a traffic nightmare for anyone still out on the roads.
The map above shows just how bad traffic is around the region as two and a half inches of slick, powdery snow have fallen. Numerous accidents have been reported around the county as students make their way to school and commuters make their way to work.
Metrobus service has now been limited to snow emergency routes — major roadways only. There is no Metrobus service on secondary streets.
Arlington snow crews so far are only treating primary and secondary roads, not neighborhood streets.
Conditions are bad enough on local roads that we’ve heard of at least one tow truck getting stuck en route to an accident scene An Arlington County Police spokesman, who himself was stuck in heavy traffic having moved only 3 miles in an hour and a half, said officers were doing their best to keep up with all the accidents.
“Obviously traffic is pretty [bad],” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The county’s 911 call center is “getting a steady flow of emergency calls. The majority of calls are for struck vehicles… we’re addressing accidents first, then stuck vehicles.”
Sternbeck noted that the police department has a normal staffing level this morning.
At least one crossing guard has not been able to make it to her post near Jefferson Middle School, but no police officers are available to replace her, according to scanner traffic. At N. McKinkey Road in 9th Street, medics are responding to a crossing guard who slipped, injured her knee and is lying in the middle of the road.
Students are tweeting ARLnow.com saying their buses are running late or are getting stuck. Others say their school bus never showed up at all.
There have been police reports of school buses getting stuck in various locations, including near Oak Ridge Elementary and on 16th Street S. at S. Taylor Street.
The following roads have been closed by police due to cars getting stuck on hills:
- 14th Street N. between Kirkwood and Kenmore
- S. Adams Street between 25th and 26th
- Wilson Blvd at N. Larrimore Street
- 16th Street between Taylor and Stafford
- N. Patrick Henry Drive at 9th
- 8th Road S. at Dinwiddie
- N. McKinley Road north of Wilson Blvd (several accidents reported)
Drivers and residents have been tweeting reports of accidents and stuck vehicles.
— Alana Sawyer (@AlanaSawyerDC) January 6, 2015
— David Kinney (@dnak17) January 6, 2015
— David Kinney (@dnak17) January 6, 2015
— Titoo (@_medinaugly4lif) January 6, 2015
— Titoo (@_medinaugly4lif) January 6, 2015
— JBurd (@jnburd) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom multiple cars having trouble getting up Wilson Hill in Rosslyn next to Hyatt
— Ben (@WASHDCBEN) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom art 77 and 16y (and another one) stuck at 6th and courthouse road south.
— C J (@hoborocks) January 6, 2015
avoid s. walter reed drive near shirlington. superman hill is a nightmare @ARLnowDOTcom
— Ashley Goff (@goffashley) January 6, 2015
— regular r (@cybersmell) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom I have kids who take 3 different APS buses – not one showed up this morning. I've declared our own snow day.
— kc (@klcmurphy) January 6, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom Our officers are working numerous accidents around the County. Drive slowly and seek alt transportation options, if possible.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 6, 2015
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) January 6, 2015
Trash collection is being delayed until later in the day today, according to the Dept. of Environmental Services.
A “ground stop” was in place for flights at Reagan National Airport for part of the morning. As of 8:50 a.m., the airport said the main runway had been treated and “our operations are back to normal.”
While numerous problems have been reported on the roads, at least one bike trail was well-treated this morning.
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) January 6, 2015
— BikeArlington (@BikeArlington) January 6, 2015
The National Weather Service belatedly issued a Winter Storm Warning just after 9:00 a.m.
… WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM EST THIS AFTERNOON. THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW… HEAVY AT TIMES.
* ACCUMULATIONS… 4 TO 6 INCHES.
* TIMING… UNTIL 1 PM. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL BE THROUGH 11 AM.
* TEMPERATURES… LOW 20S.
* WINDS… VARIABLE 5 MPH.
* IMPACTS… HEAVY SNOW ACCUMULATING ON ALL SURFACES WELL BELOW FREEZING AND VISIBILITY BELOW HALF MILE WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE FOR VERY HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS.
A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS. ONLY TRAVEL IN AN EMERGENCY. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL… KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT… FOOD… AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
Despite some reader sentiment that Arlington Transit’s ART buses drive dangerously, incident records from Arlington and WMATA appear to debunk any claim that ART bus drivers crash at a significantly higher rate than other urban bus drivers.
According to crash statistics provided by Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services, ART buses have had 26 “preventable accidents” this year, a rate of 2.23 accidents per 100,000 miles of revenue service. This number accounts for minor scrapes, including incidents in the ART bus depot.
ART bus drivers came under renewed scrutiny last week when one was charged with reckless driving after causing a seven-car crash on Columbia Pike last week, sending four people to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. That driver, 26-year-old Agere Sileshi, had been driving in “revenue service” for four weeks, and is “currently on administrative leave,” according to DES spokesman Eric Balliet.
Sileshi is an employee of contractor National Express Transit, which declined comment through a spokesperson on Sileshi’s employment status and ART bus’ driving records. Sileshi was driving in the Columbia Pike Plaza parking lot and the bus was out of service when the crash occurred. Balliet said “no ART route goes into that parking lot.”
Balliet said the average crash rate for buses in “an urban environment” is between 1.0 and 2.0, but many jurisdictions do not tally the minor incidents Arlington does. WMATA also counts those incidents, and, according to spokesman Dan Stessel, Metrobus’ rate in 2013 was 2.16 per 100,000 miles — just under ART’s 2.23 accident rate.
“You can rack up a lot of ‘collisions’ during the overnight hours as hundreds of buses are moved around tight spaces in bus depots for service, cleaning and refueling,” Stessel noted.
Balliet pointed out that ART has received high safety marks in recent years, including an American Public Transportation Association’s Gold Safety Award in 2011, an award for the service’s pedestrian safety training in 2012 and had a 90 percent satisfaction rate in a 2013 ridership survey. Baillet also says every ART bus driver must go through 120 hours of operator training.
Despite the statistical evidence, some around Arlington have said it’s only a matter of time before an ART bus causes more serious injuries. Serkan Altan, a Columbia Pike resident, has been contacting Arlington transit officials complaining about their drivers’ behavior.
“ART bus drivers are driving crazy in my area, especially around Dinwiddie Street,” Altan wrote in an email. “ART supervisors… were made aware of the safety issues with its [reckless] drivers, especially in that area where I live. They should be held liable.”
The study, tabulated in infographic form (left) by county-funded transit research organization Mobility Lab, used 2013 data to analyze the commuting habits of of 131,300 working Arlington residents and the 180,300 who work in the county.
According to the study, 7 percent of all commuting trips by Arlington residents are either on foot or with a bicycle, and 4 percent of Arlington workers report either walking or biking to work. While 7.4 percent of commuting trips were biking and walking in the previous study, conducted in 2010, Mobility Lab Research Director Stephen Crim told ARLnow.com that he believes the 576-resident sample did not represent the county’s changing commuting patterns.
“We looked at this in comparison to census figures, and the census is showing really strong growth [in walking and biking] between the 2013 community survey and the 2010 community survey,” Crim said, “so we think there is an increase, but the sample didn’t pick that up.”
The longer term trend is clear: in 2004, only 4 percent of county residents biked or walked to work, and only 2.8 percent arrived at their jobs in Arlington via bike or foot.
The number of Arlington residents that drive alone to work is virtually unchanged — from 55 percent in 2010 to 54 percent last year — and hasn’t decreased significantly over the last 10 years, despite local officials’ emphasis on the “Car Free Diet.” Crim said that transit advocates should not be discouraged, however.
“A few percentage points over that period I’d say is real progress,” he said. “For Arlington residents, it’s a kind of hard argument to make because a lot of them are not going that far to work. Satisfaction across all the different modes is about the same. It’s that much more difficult sometimes, to make the argument, when someone still owns a car to not use it for work. They might have to drive a short distance or not get on a crowded interstate, so it’s a real challenge for all of Arlington’s programs.”
Compared with other jurisdictions around the region, Arlington’s residents lag behind only the District’s in alternative modes of transportation to driving. The regional average for those who drive alone to work is close to 70 percent, but only 38 percent of D.C. residents drive solo to the office.
Arlington residents’ use of Metrorail took a slight dip, from its peak of 27 percent in 2010 to 26 percent last year. The number coincides with the region as a whole; according to Mobility Lab, Metro’s ridership has been in decline since 2009.
The biggest statistical shift in working patterns comes from employees teleworking. In 2004, only 13 percent of Arlington residents said they teleworked at any point during the week. In 2013, that number is 30 percent, with the respondents teleworking on average 1.3 days per week. In addition, 19 percent of Arlington residents said they can’t telework at their current job, but “could and would” if the option were available to them.
Image courtesy Mobility Lab
Changes are coming to the plaza surrounding the Ballston Metro station.
Arlington County is in the process of designing improvements to the plaza and gathering public input. The improvements are intended to reduce bus congestion, enhance pedestrian safety, prepare for future population growth and make the plaza more functional and aesthetically attractive.
Metrorail ridership is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent at the station between 2010 and 2020, while bus ridership is expected to increase 20 percent. Cyclist use of the plaza, currently a relatively small percentage of transportation uses, is expected to rise by 200 percent during that time period.
Plans so far include increased bike parking, new bus stops and new sidewalk cafes. The plans call for moving tree planters closer to the curb to improve pedestrian circulation and enhance retail viability.
A public meeting about the changes was held at Arlington Public Library earlier this week. Residents were generally supportive, but objected to a proposal to narrow a side street that’s currently clogged with bus and taxi traffic.
Project engineering is expected to wrap up next fall, with construction beginning in early 2016, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. Separately, the county also has a long-range plan for a second Ballston Metro station entrance.
After the jump, a list of goals for the project, from the county’s public presentation.
The trail connecting Doctor’s Run Park and S. George Mason Drive to Randolph Elementary School is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The project, funded with Neighborhood Conservation money, will realign the trail that runs between the park and the school, widening it and decreasing its slopes in several areas, according to its county project page. The trail will be lit until 6:00 p.m. to coincide with Randolph’s after school programs.
The new trail will also connect with the 12th Street S. bike boulevard that goes from street to trail at S. Quincy Street. When complete, county Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager David Goodman told ARLnow.com a HAWK signal will be installed at the intersection of George Mason Drive and 13th Street, where the trail connector meets the road. The improvements will also include a pedestrian
“There are some improvements we’re doing on either end of this connector that are going to tie this all together,” Goodman told ARLnow.com.
The 30th annual Army Ten-Miler race will be held Sunday morning, and numerous local roads and highways will be closed for the event.
The race begins at 8:00 a.m. The course runs from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge into D.C., and back to the Pentagon via the 14th Street Bridge.
More than 30,000 runners are registered for the race.
Arlington County Police and U.S. Park Police have announced the following road closures for Sunday.
- Memorial Avenue, Memorial Circle, and Arlington Memorial Bridge will be closed from 5:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., including all entrance and exit ramps.
- Route 110 between Rosslyn and Crystal City will be closed in both directions at 5:00 a.m. (Use the George Washington Memorial Parkway as an alternative)
- I-395 HOV northbound from Crystal City to the 14th Street Bridge will be closed at 6:00 a.m.
- S. Eads Street from Army Navy Drive into the Pentagon/ northbound I-395 HOV lanes will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- I-395 southbound HOV exit to S. Eads Street / Pentagon south parking lot will be closed at 5:00 a.m.
- Route 27 in both directions from George Washington Memorial Parkway to I-395 will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- Army Navy Drive from S. Eads Street to S. 12th Street from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- S. 12th Street from S. Eads Street to Long Bridge Drive from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- A single traffic lane on Long Bridge Drive will be open from S. 12th Street to Long Bridge Park for access to the soccer fields and area residents from approximately 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- The southbound GW Parkway ramp to the Pentagon North Parking Lot will be closed from 5 a.m. until 12 p.m.
- The Memorial Avenue ramp to Route 110 southbound will be closed from 5 a.m. until 12 p.m.
- The Route 110 northbound ramp to Memorial Avenue will be closed from 5 a.m. until 12 p.m.
Those participating in the Ten-Miler are being encouraged to honor fallen servicemembers through a social media campaign called “Run to Honor.” The campaign calls on those taking photos at the race to post them to Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #RuntoHonor.
One of the three high-speed elevators on N. Moore Street — which are less than a year old — broke down about 8:15 a.m., according to scanner traffic.
A commuter who was rushing to work after being freed from the elevator said the group remained calm as they waited for help.
The entrapment was caused by a power surge that is under investigation, WMATA spokeswoman Caroline Laurin said.
The elevators went out of service in December 2013 because of an electricity-related glitch.
All three of the elevators on N. Moore Street were taken out of service after the incident and had resumed operation by 11:15 a.m., the WMATA representative said.
DES spokesman Eric Balliet said authority over the Rosslyn station elevators was transferred from the county to WMATA about a month ago.
A cracked third rail between the Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn Metro stations caused at least four Blue Line trains to stop on the tracks, causing major delays and overcrowding on Blue, Orange and Silver Line platforms this morning.
The problems started before 8:00 a.m. as Blue Line trains traveling into D.C. from Arlington were becoming disabled when they were going over the cracked rail. On Twitter, one rider reported “Just past [Arlington National Cemetery] there was a loud pop and train went dark and shut off. We broke down after [Foggy Bottom].”
At 8:23 a.m., WMATA announced that all inbound Blue Line service had been suspended. By that time, Orange and Silver Line trains were experiencing significant delays, and platforms along the line — notably Ballston — were heavily crowded. At 9:10 a.m., Metro announced it had found the cracked rail, but didn’t return the Blue Line to service, via single-tracking, until 9:50.
Blue Line trains will continue to operate at about a 10-minute delay until the rail is repaired, according to WMATA, and Orange and Silver line trains may be slightly delayed at Rosslyn while the single-tracking continues.