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.
Metro reduced the number of Blue Line trains stopping in Arlington to better accommodate the Silver Line. It also expected the “Orange Crush,” or Orange Line overcrowding during rush hour, to lessen because some people would switch to the Silver Line.
How has the addition of the Silver Line affected your commute? Choose up to two answers.
Lingering Campaign Signs Annoy Arlington Dems — Uncollected campaign signs from the June 10 Democratic congressional primary are irking local Democratic leadership. Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Kip Malinosky says the party has contacted certain candidates multiple times to let them know their signs were still cluttering up local medians. By Arlington ordinance, signs can only be removed by those who put them up. [InsideNova]
Blue Line Crunch Coming — When the Silver Line opens next month, the average headway for rush hour Blue Line trains will increase from 8.5 minutes to 12 minutes. Metro says Blue Line riders can consider taking buses instead of trains to, in some cases, speed up their trip. [PlanItMetro]
Sietsema Reviews Mazagan — Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema has reviewed Mazagan, the new Moroccan eatery and hookah bar on Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Sietsema gave the restaurant 1.5 stars, saying the music was too loud and the dishes hit-or-miss. [Washington Post]
New Iwo Jima Bikeshare Station — A new Capital Bikeshare station near the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima memorial, has been enjoying heavy use. The station can hold nineteen bikes but only three were parked there Wednesday morning. [Ode Street Tribune]
Arlington will play a pivotal role in the regional economy with the coming of the Silver Line, suggests Metro planning director Shyam Kannan.
Speaking at GMU’s Va. Square campus last week, Kannan said that the Silver Line and development around Tysons Corner will make the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor the economic “fulcrum” of the D.C. area. Development pressure — particularly demand for new apartments and condos — “only becomes more pronounced” with the Silver Line, he said, thanks to our central location between the “downtowns” of the District and Tysons Corner.
That should come as a welcome bit of prognostication for Arlington County, which has been fretting about economic competition with a newly Metro-accessible Tysons Corner.
The Silver Line, however, will hasten the necessity to build a second Potomac River crossing between Rosslyn and the District. Already, service adjustments are putting a squeeze on the Blue Line through Rosslyn, reducing train frequency and increasing crowding. Metro envisions building a second Rosslyn Metro station, which will connect with a new Metro line through Georgetown via a second Potomac River tunnel. That will help alleviate the increasingly problematic “bottleneck” between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
Kannan acknowledged that overcrowding and frequent equipment breakdowns are a problem, but said Metro is working to solve both.
“For those of you who have experienced the service disruptions… you’ve seen that there are impacts to our daily lives,” he said. “Metro needs to continuously invest in its resources.”
Another “long, long range plan” is to build an express line on the Orange Line which will bypass the R-B corridor, Kannan said. And South Arlington was not left out of Metro’s plans: a second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station is being proposed.
All of this will come at a cost. Kannan made sure to emphasize, for the Arlington officials in the audience, that Arlington and other local jurisdictions will either need to increase their contributions to Metro in order to fund its long-range capital plans, or help the agency obtain a dedicated funding stream — i.e. some sort of a regional tax.
“The question as a region we have to ask ourselves is, ‘are we okay going into the middle of the 21st century with a transit system that functions the same way it functioned in 1976?” he asked. “I don’t think that really spells economic strength or prosperity or livability.”
“Arlington has been a great partner,” Kannan said. “Metro is hitching its wagon to Arlington County. What bet are you willing to make now?”
The plans discussed by Kannan are a long way off, likely a decade or much longer. In the meantime, Kannan says Metro hopes to increase the capacity of its increasingly crowded rail system — which is “busting at the seams” — by switching from a combination of 6- and 8-car trains to all 8-car trains. But even that seemingly simple solution is proving to be an expensive uphill battle.
“We’re fighting hand to hand combat right now to make sure we just have the funding to keep the system going and to get to 8-car trains,” he said.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in ARLbiz, our weekly local business e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Metro Weekend Service Adjustments — Due to work on the Metrorail system, trains on the Orange and Blue Lines will run every 24 minutes this weekend. The altered schedule begins at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 22, and runs through closing on Sunday, November 24. [WMATA]
Metro Sign Upgrades on the Way — By the end of the winter, Metrorail riders should notice a number of upgrades to the electronic signs announcing train arrivals. Some improvements include making the display crisper so it’s easier to read from a distance and temporarily stopping service advisories from scrolling on the screens when trains are arriving. [Washington Post]
ART System Expansion — At its meeting on Tuesday (November 19), the County Board approved a plan to expand the ART bus system within the next year. Two lines will be added and one line will have service later into the evening. [Sun Gazette]
Students Place First in Video Contest — Six students at Arlington Career Center won first place for the video they submitted to the Virginia School Boards Association student video contest. High school students were challenged to create a 30 second video for the theme “What’s Super About Public Schools.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Orange, Yellow and Blue Line trains will all arrive every 20 minutes, beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 8, and continuing through closing on Monday, November 11. All Yellow Line trains will run only between Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square.
The system opens at 5:00 a.m. on Monday and will close at midnight. Additional trains will operate on Monday between Vienna and Stadium-Armory from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Crews working on the Yellow and Blue Lines will improve track infrastructure, including installation of new ties, fasteners, insulators, grout pads and cover boards. Orange Line workers will reconstruct station platforms at Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations, as well as performing tie renewal, insulator renewal and structural improvements.
More information about weekend schedule alterations throughout the Metro system can be found on the WMATA website.
Daylight Saving Time Ends Sunday — Be sure to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, meaning an extra hour of sleep but one fewer hour of daylight at night. The changing of the clocks is also a good time to replace smoke alarm batteries.
Dems Worry About Libertarian’s Impact on Gov. Race — Historically, polls overestimate the potential votes for third party candidates because voters who might have expressed support for a third party in a poll end up choosing one of the major party candidates in the voting booth. Arlington Democrats worry that Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli is thin enough that supporters of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis may tip the election on Nov. 5 if they break for Cuccinelli. [Sun Gazette]
Blue, Orange Line Work This Weekend — Trains on the Blue and Orange Line will run every 15 minutes this weekend due to scheduled track work. [WMATA]
Arlington Education Company Cutting Jobs — Arlington-based Strayer Education is cutting its workforce by 20 percent and closing some of its Strayer University campuses. Students enrollment is down 17 percent. [Washington Business Journal]
The Metrorail Twitter account suggests several problems are plaguing the Orange Line this morning, including a switch problem at West Falls Church and disabled trains at Dunn Lorning and Metro Center. Inbound Orange Line trains were also offloaded at Clarendon and East Falls Church to return to Vienna for service, Metro said.
On Twitter, passengers have been reporting long waits on both the Orange and Blue lines.
Concrete Falling From Bridge — A local bike blog reports that chunks of concrete seem to be falling off the I-66 bridge over Lee Highway, near Lyon Village. Concrete chunks large and small have been accumulating on the sidewalk below the bridge. [Windy Run]
Orange, Blue Line Delays This Weekend — Due to track work and work to mitigate tunnel leaks, Metro trains on the Orange and Blue lines will run every 16 minutes this weekend, instead of the normal 12 minute intervals. [WMATA]
Arlington SAT Scores Rise — The Arlington Public Schools Class of 2o13 had an average SAT score of 1645 this year, up from the two previous years. The state average this year was 1528 while the national average was 1498. Among Arlington students, females averaged 1654 while males averaged 1635. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Work on the Metrorail system this weekend will affect all of the lines that travel through Arlington, including shutting down the Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations. Disruptions begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 13, and continue through closing on Sunday, September 15.
Blue line trains will operate at regular weekend intervals (every 12 minutes during daytime hours, and every 15-20 minutes at other times) in two segments: between Largo Town Center and Pentagon City, and between Franconia-Springfield and Braddock Road. Yellow Line trains will also operate at normal weekend intervals in two segments: between Mt. Vernon Sauare and Pentagon City, and between Huntington and Braddock Road.
Customers on the Blue and Yellow lines will need to take free shuttle buses between Pentagon City and Braddock Road while the two stations are closed. Express buses will operate non-stop between Braddock Road and Pentagon City. Customers should add up to 15 minutes of travel time. Local buses will operate between Braddock Road and Pentagon City, making intermediate stops at Reagan National Airport and Crystal City stations. Customers should add up to 20 minutes of travel time.
Riders should note that there are also alterations to the times for final trains. The last Yellow Line train from Huntington to Braddock Road will depart 22 minutes earlier than normal to allow for shuttle bus connections. It will depart at 2:12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and at 11:12 p.m. on Sunday. The last Blue Line train from Franconia-Springfield to Braddock Road will also depart 22 minutes earlier, at 2:07 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and at 11:07 p.m. on Sunday.
WMATA says the closures are due to crews replacing junction boxes and performing various maintenance and rehabilitation tasks.
Due to work in the District, customers riding the Orange Line this weekend should expect trains to come at 20 minute intervals.
More information about all of the work on the Metrorail system this weekend can be found on WMATA’s website.
The altered schedule will begin Friday at 10:00 p.m. and continue until midnight on Sunday. According to Metro, the delays will be in place “to allow for NTSB-recommended track circuit replacement between Foggy Bottom and Smithsonian stations.”
Trains typically run every 12 to 20 minutes on weekend. Major track work on the Metro is expected to continue well into 2017.
This is the second time in the last six days that an Orange Line train has been accidentally routed to the Blue Line. Last Wednesday, it occurred at the end of the morning rush hour.
Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said only “one or two trains saw minor delays as a result,” and characterized the mishap as “a minor inconvenience for passengers” in an email. Stessel said a signal issue was the cause of the problem and there were no safety issues for passengers.
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.
WMATA reports the closure is for NTSB-recommended track circuit module replacement, rail joint elimination, tie renewal and other various track improvements.
Both Blue and Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments. Blue Line trains will run between Crystal City and Largo Town Center, and between Braddock Road and Franconia-Springfield every 16 minutes from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and every 20 minutes from 9:00 p.m. until system closing. Yellow Line trains will run between Crystal City and Mount Vernon Square, and between Braddock Road and Huntington every 16 minutes from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and every 20 minutes from 9:00 p.m. until system closing.
There will be two routes of free shuttle buses replacing train service between Crystal City and Braddock Road. Express buses will operate between Crystal City and Braddock Road only. Local buses running between Crystal City and Braddock Road will serve Reagan National Airport. Customers using the shuttles should allow about 15 minutes of extra travel time.
The track work and closures will begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, March 1, and will continue through closing on Sunday, March 3. More information about track work throughout the system this weekend can be found on WMATA’s website.
Metro is performing “NTSB-recommended track circuit replacement, fastener replacement and joint elimination,” according to the agency’s website. Buses will replaces trains between Pentagon and Rosslyn from about 10 p.m. Friday to system closing on Sunday.
Trains will run from Rosslyn to Largo Town Center at regular weekend intervals, Metro said. The other segment of the Blue Line — starting at Franconia-Springfield — will take the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac to Mount Vernon Square.
Those using the free shuttle bus between Pentagon and Rosslyn should allow 20 minutes of additional travel time, Metro said.
Photo by BrianMKA