94°Mostly Cloudy

by ARLnow.com — May 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

Weekend Metro track work outside of Reagan National Airport station (file photo)

(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) Metro has released its final version of the SafeTrack plan, beginning with work between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations.

This morning Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld outlined the agency’s plan for working through Metrorail’s deferred maintenance backlog.

The “safety surge,” dubbed SafeTrack, “accomplishes in one year, work that otherwise would take about three years to complete.” It comes at a time when major Metro track problems and electrical fires seem to be increasingly commonplace.

The plan involves fifteen long-duration track outages between June 4 and May 8, 2017, to allow for extensive track work.

The goal: to achieve “safety and state of good repair of basic track structure.”

So what can Arlington riders expect? First, there will be a moratorium on early system openings and closings — the system will close at midnight, seven day a week.

Additionally, the following track outages are planned.

Metro SafeTrack logoJuly 5-12
National Airport to Braddock Road

Impact: Entire line segment shut down
Service Reduction: Trains running every 12 minutes at Virginia Blue and Yellow Line stations

July 12-19
National Airport to Pentagon City
Impact: Entire line segment shut down
Service Reduction: Trains running every 12 minutes at Virginia Blue and Yellow Line stations

Aug. 20-Sept. 6
Eastern Market to Minnesota Ave/Benning Road 
Impact: Entire line segment shut down
Service Reductions: Three lines affected. Orange and Silver lines running every 10 minutes, Blue Line running every 12 minutes.

Nov. 2-12
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes

Nov. 12-Dec. 5
East Falls Church to Ballston
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Silver Line running every 18 minutes, Orange Line trains from Vienna to Ballston running every 18 minutes

Dec. 6-24
Pentagon to Rossyln
Impact: Entire line segment shut down, Arlington Cemetery station closed
Service Reduction: Reduced service at all Blue Line stations

March 6-14
West Falls Church to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Orange and Silver lines each running every 16 minutes

April 16-May 8
Braddock Road to Huntington/Van Dorn 
Impact: Continuous single tracking
Service Reduction: Trains on Blue Line running every 18 minutes

In order to maximize productivity, all of the track outages will be continuous and will affect rush hour service. For the line segment shut downs, buses will replace trains around the station closures.

The safety surge will not only affect Metro riders, it’s expected to affect those who drive as well, in the form of additional traffic.

Here’s what Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) had to say about the plan.

After the jump, the full press release from Metro.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — May 3, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Smoke fills a Yellow Line Metro train on Jan 12, 2015 (photo via @JRogers202)

(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Arlington’s Congressional representative, has issued a statement following the release of the National Transportation Safety Board’s report on the fatal Jan. 12, 2015 smoke incident on Metro’s Yellow Line.

Beyer says the report details a “perfect storm of failure” on the part of Metro and called on the agency to “make whatever personnel changes are necessary to prioritize rider safety.”

Beyer’s office sent out the following press release this afternoon.

Rep. Don Beyer issued the following statement today after investigators presented their findings on the 2015 smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board. The investigator’s findings were critical of the coordinated emergency response. They also highlighted persistent safety deficiencies at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) during the last three decades.

“NTSB investigators outlined a perfect storm of failure, coupled with systemic deficiencies throughout the first response network,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “I strongly encourage Metro leadership to make whatever personnel changes are necessary to prioritize rider safety. We cannot  jeopardize passenger lives.”

The NTSB investigators cited cascading safety failures within Metro leading to the [incident], including damaged equipment, improper operation of ventilation fans, and an order from the Rail Operations Control Center to send a passenger train into the affected area.

They also focused on a number of mistakes in the emergency response, including improper training, delayed reaction to the emergency call, and other breakdowns in communication.

“The emergency response to the L’Enfant smoke incident was simply inadequate,” Beyer added. “There is plenty of blame to go around and every agency must swiftly implement the NTSB’s safety recommendations to avert future incidents. We owe it to the people of the National Capital Region, and the family of Carol Glover, to do whatever it takes to create a new, high standard of safety in Metrorail.”

NTSB also found that the management and oversight of Metro safety remains insufficient under the Federal Transit Administration, and suggested that the Federal Railroad Administration assume future oversight of WMATA safety.

Later Tuesday afternoon, the remainder of Arlington’s Congressional delegation — Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — issued to following joint statement.

“More than fifteen months after the smoke incident at L’Enfant Plaza, we are extremely disturbed that many of the safety hazards that allowed that deadly accident to occur have not yet been addressed. As the report states, responsibility for this incident, which resulted in the death of an Alexandria resident, is borne not just by Metro but other regional stakeholders. We urge Metro, the Federal Transit Administration, and regional authorities to move as urgently as possible to ensure that the problems identified in this report finally get fixed once and for all.

“Since that tragedy, a new management team has taken over at WMATA; the FTA has temporarily assumed direct safety oversight; and the federal members of the WMATA Board have been replaced. These steps must be the start of a sustained effort to overhaul Metro. As Congress grapples with the long-term federal role in funding Metro, the best case we could make to our colleagues would be tangible progress by WMATA management on addressing every deficiency identified in this report.”

Photo via @JRogers202

by ARLnow.com — April 25, 2016 at 8:00 am 0

ACPD K9 unitNormal service is starting to resume at the Clarendon Metro station after an earlier bomb scare.

Around 7:30 a.m., police and bomb squad units responded to the station for a report of a suspicious person who might have had explosives.

Bomb-sniffing dogs swept a Metro train at the station but did not find anything. The scene has since been cleared, although Metro riders should expect residual delays.

by ARLnow.com — April 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm 0

Firefighters respond to the Rosslyn Metro station (file photo)Update at 3:30 p.m. — Metro says trains are no longer single tracking.

A Metro train got stuck in the Potomac River tunnel outside of the Rosslyn station this afternoon, leading to delays and a paramedic dispatch.

Metro evacuated passengers to the front of the disabled train — then through another train — and into the station, a video (below) shows. Metro requested that an Arlington County medic unit respond to the station as a precaution.

Orange, Blue and Silver line trains were single-tracking through station as a result of the incident. Passengers should expect significant delays.

The train that became disabled in the tunnel is one of Metro’s new 7000-series trains.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — April 5, 2016 at 9:20 am 0

It was not a good morning commute if you were driving on Route 50 or riding Metro’s Orange or Silver lines over the last hour or so.

First, a crash on Route 50 at N. Fillmore Street around 8 a.m. left a vehicle on its side and one person trapped, before being extricated by firefighters. The eastbound lanes of Route 50 just reopened after an extended closure. Delays extends back several miles.

On Metro, a number of issues on the Orange and Silver line have produced big delays and crowded station.

As a bonus, there were also some issues on the Yellow and Blue lines.

by ARLnow.com — March 25, 2016 at 10:05 am 0

Update at 10:35 a.m. — No fire has been found and firefighters are handing over the scene to Metro’s emergency maintenance personnel.

Earlier: Metrorail service has been suspended between Rosslyn and Ballston due to a possible fire in a tunnel near the Clarendon Metro station.

Arlington County firefighters are investigating. The fire is said to be between the Clarendon and Courthouse stations. Firefighters are reporting very light smoke in the Courthouse station.

Wilson Blvd is being shut down at N. Highland Street and N. Garfield Street is being shut down at 10th Street N. due to the fire department activity.

by ARLnow.com — March 17, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Rosslyn Metro by Chris RiefUpdated at 5:45 p.m. — A Metro spokeswoman says the incident described below was a brake issue with a train.

According to Sherri Ly: “There was no ‘evacuation.’ The train was offloaded due to a brake issue… The train was taken out of service and the customers were able to board the next train.

“There was no electrical issue and the smell is not an electrical smell, it’s the smell of hot brakes – similar to if you are riding your brakes in your car.”

Earlier: A day after the Metrorail system was shut down due to the risk of electrical fires on the tracks, an apparent brake or electrical issue has prompted the evacuation of a train at the Rosslyn Metro station.

Numerous riders, including a reporter who occasionally freelances for ARLnow.com, reported the incident on Twitter.

We’re told that the train’s conductor was initially skeptical when riders began pressing the emergency button, but the train was offloaded shortly thereafter as it filled with smoke.

Metro described the incident as a “train malfunction” and said riders should expect some residual delays. A haze and an electrical smell was reported throughout the station following the malfunction.

File photo by Chris Rief

by ARLnow.com — March 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm 0

The Metrorail system will reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday, following today’s shutdown, but riders should expect possible single-tracking and delays as crews continue to fix damaged power cables along the tracks.

That’s the word from officials at a 6 p.m. press conference, in which Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld showed a video (above) of a damaged “jumper cable” found during today’s inspections. With most of the inspections complete, 26 damaged cables have been found — mostly along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines — and 18 have been repaired so far.

Evening rush hour traffic on 3/16/16 (image via Google Maps)“The shutdown was necessary,” Wiedefeld said.

Fears of a traffic nightmare today largely did not materialize, as many workers either telecommuted, took buses or rode bikes to work. The morning commute was a bit slower than usual on some routes, while evening rush hour traffic — at least in Arlington — was lighter than usual.

Bus stops were certainly more crowded than usual today, but some of the biggest queues could be found at Reagan National Airport, as travelers waited for taxis.

After the jump: the press release from WMATA about the inspections and the planned reopening of the system Thursday.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2016 at 5:40 pm 0

Update at 6:10 p.m. — The federal government is open tomorrow. Federal workers has the option of unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework, says the Office of Personnel Management. Arlington County government is also open with a telework option.

Arlington’s congressional delegation is weighing in on tomorrow’s complete closure of the Metrorail system for safety inspections.

Rep. Don Beyer (D):

Our office has been in contact with the Office of Personnel Management. We have urged them to allow unscheduled leave for federal employees, and I urge other employers in the region to be equally flexible, allowing employees to take unscheduled leave or to work from home if at all possible.

I have confidence in the new leadership of Paul Wiedefeld and look forward learning more about the technical details behind this decision. We must overhaul this critical public transit system, and we must continue our federal investment in Metro in order for that to happen. Tomorrow we will get a glimpse of what our nation’s capital will look like without this essential system.

Sen. Mark Warner (D):

“It’s sad that it’s come to this, but hundreds of thousands of people depend on the safety of the Metro system. We need to take it seriously. I’m glad that Metro’s new leadership is treating system safety with an appropriate sense of urgency.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D):

“While this is an unprecedented step and a major inconvenience for thousands of daily commuters, it’s also the type of tough call that signals WMATA’s new management team is doing whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Metro riders.  Employers across the region — including OPM — should offer their employees flexibility tomorrow as they face limited transit options.”

(more…)

by Tim Regan — March 15, 2016 at 4:35 pm 0

Metro will close its rail system to riders for a full 24 hours starting tonight at midnight, the transit agency announced the news at a press conference this afternoon.

The Metrorail system will close at midnight tonight and remain closed until 5 a.m. Thursday, according to officials. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday.

More information from Metro:

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority’s Board of Directors, today announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system’s third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire yesterday.

The inspections of approximately 600 “jumper cables” will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.

The news also appeared to crash the WMATA website earlier this afternoon.

The move comes just one day after an early morning cable fire caused massive delays on Metro’s Blue and Orange lines.

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Update at 2:20 p.m.Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has written a letter to customers in which he warns of more single-tracking delays during the evening rush hour and a total shut down of a portion of the Silver, Orange and Blue lines in D.C. starting at 9 p.m.

Dear Metrorail Customer,

I know that it was a tough commute this morning for our Blue, Orange and Silver line customers. I want to provide you with an update so that you can plan for the commute home.

About 4:30 a.m., the Rail Operations Control Center received a report of a fire in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station. Buses were called in to substitute for trains through downtown until the fire department cleared in the 6 a.m. hour. Metro restored limited rail service using a single track between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations.

I know that many of you experienced delays of 30 to 60 minutes on Blue and Orange line trains this morning. Silver Line trains were turned back at Ballston Station to reduce congestion downtown, and some trains bypassed stations to ease delays for the greatest number of customers.

Hopefully you received timely notification of the disruption through our communication channels: wmata.com, MetroAlerts email and text messages or the news media. (If you are not signed up for MetroAlerts, please take a moment to sign up at wmata.com/metroalerts.)

Unfortunately, the fire damaged several cables that will need to be replaced tonight in order to restore full service for tomorrow. Single tracking will continue throughout the day and will affect the evening commute. If you have the ability to consider alternate travel options today, I encourage you to do so.

I have directed that repairs start at 9 p.m. tonight when ridership is lower. At that time, rail service will be suspended on both tracks between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle.

Rail service plans for the rest of today are as follows:

  • Blue and Orange line trains will continue to share a single track between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle during the afternoon and evening hours. This will result in delays in both directions. You should consider travel alternates if possible, such as the Yellow Line between DC and Virginia or Metrobus options if available.
  • Silver Line trains will continue operating between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston only. Customers should use Orange Line trains to complete their trip between Virginia and DC.
  • During the evening rush hour, Blue and Orange eastbound trains will skip Farragut West and McPherson Square to reduce delays. Listen for station announcements, check platform signs or sign up for MetroAlerts for details.
  • Starting at 9 p.m., all rail service will be suspended in both directions between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle to allow for repairs. Metro will provide shuttle bus service between the affected stations. Please allow additional travel time.

We are working closely and cooperatively with the NTSB, FTA and DC Fire Department to determine the cause of this incident, and I will remain personally engaged in our response.

I apologize for the delay, inconvenience and crowding you experienced this morning — and that you may experience again later today. Be assured that as we respond to these matters as they arise, we continue to advance plans to improve safety and service reliability to reduce recurrences in the future.

Sincerely,

Paul J. Wiedefeld
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer

Earlier: There are major delays on the Blue and Orange lines today due to the closure of one of the two tracks near the McPherson Square station in D.C.

An earlier cable fire caused damage to the track. Repairs are underway.

As a result of the single-tracking in D.C., there are major delays on the Blue and Orange Lines in Arlington. The inbound Silver Line, meanwhile, is turning around at Ballston.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

Metro paper farecard reminder sign in the Rosslyn Metro stationIf you still have any paper Metro farecards sitting around, you’ll want to use them this week.

Starting Sunday at 7 a.m., Metro will stop accepting paper farecards at turnstiles and will only accept SmarTrip cards.

It’s one of the final steps in Metro’s phasing out of paper farecards, which the agency stopped selling Dec. 31. The very last step will happen this summer, when Metro stops accepting paper cards as trade-ins.

“If you still have a paper farecard or a Metrochek after June 30, 2016, congratulations, you have a Metro souvenir,” Metro said on its website.

In addition to online reminders, signs have been placed in local Metro stations informing riders of the changes.

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 11:10 am 0

ART busPremium bus service will be coming to Columbia Pike, and Arlington County is studying the possibility of establishing dedicated bus lanes as part a series of transit improvements.

That’s the message from County Manager Mark Schwartz, who spoke at a County Board meeting yesterday afternoon.

More than a year in the making, since the Nov. 2014 cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the new transit plan for Columbia Pike will include bus service that’s “fast, frequent, reliable, easy to use, comfortable,” Schwartz said.

“Staff has identified several features that could be part of premium bus service on the Pike that would be similar to the Metroway service already operating in Crystal City,” Schwartz told the Board. “We are looking at near-level boarding platforms, traffic signal priority for buses, and the possibility of creating locations with dedicated bus lanes, along with other innovations.”

Near-level boarding, as depicted in the photo above, makes for faster boarding and shorter stops. The infrastructure to allow it is in the works, as Arlington County already has a plan to build 23 new, enhanced transit stations along Columbia Pike. The stations are expected to cost about 40 percent less than the infamous $1 million “Super Stop” prototype at the corner of the Pike and Walter Reed Drive.

Off-board fare collection (photo via Arlington County)Other considerations to make bus service faster include include off-board fare collection — so riders can pay for their fare before the bus arrives — and traffic signal prioritization, which would allow green lights to stay green until a bus passes.

More frequent service and simpler route structures — including limited stop and express service — are also being considered, as are new connections to Crystal City and the Skyline section of Fairfax County. The new service would be provided by specially “branded” buses with “comfortable and attractive amenities.”

Though it would require state approval and potentially costly acquisition of Right-of-Way, dedicated bus lanes are currently being studied by county planners.

One of the most lethal criticisms of the streetcar plan was that it would operate in mixed traffic without dedicated lanes. The county is studying the possibility of dedicated lanes for at least portions of the Pike — potentially allowing buses to make stops without blocking a lane of car traffic, for instance.

Dedicated lanes are part of the Metroway Bus Rapid Transit service that’s being implemented in Crystal City.

“Premium bus service would build on transit improvements already underway in these corridors. Columbia Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City are among the most transit-rich areas of Arlington, with the Pike’s 600 bus trips carrying more than 17,000 passengers each weekday,” the county said in a press release.

The new Pike bus service plan will be included in the county’s state-mandated Transit Development Plan. Arlington will be conducting public outreach on the plan over the next couple of months. It’s expected to be ultimately approved by the County Board in May.

by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

Rendering of Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola (image via Georgetown BID)The Arlington County Board on Thursday will consider joining a partnership to study the feasibility of a gondola running from Rosslyn to Georgetown.

County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending approval of the multi-party partnership, which calls for Arlington County to contribute $40,000 to the study’s expected $250,000 cost.

Among the parties to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding are the Georgetown Business Improvement District, which first floated the gondola idea, along with the District of Columbia Dept. of Transportation, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Georgetown University and property owners JBG, Gould Properties and Vornado.

The Georgetown BID would be the biggest contributor to the study, with $75,000 pledged. The other parties, besides Arlington, are slated to contribute between $35,000 and $5,000.

County staff said that an aerial gondola system running above the Potomac could draw more visitors to Rosslyn and could help ease vehicle and pedestrian traffic on the congested Key Bridge. Georgetown is the largest employment center in the District without a Metro system — more than 22,000 people work there, including 10,000 at the university — and the walk from the Rosslyn Metro station across the bridge is about a kilometer, a chilly and windy 0.6 miles in the winter.

“A more efficient and reliable transit connection between Rosslyn and Georgetown would benefit both communities socially and economically,” county staff wrote.

The county’s Transportation Commission voted 6-3-2 in favor of the study. Opponents worried that “the primary purpose of a gondola would be for tourism rather than for transport.”

“The Commission is of multiple minds on this proposal,” wrote Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt in a letter to County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “There is a fear that the gondola proposal does not solve a real transportation need, and many commissioners fear that even contributing to a study will provide substantive fodder for transit-naysayers.”

The gondola study is expected to take seven months to complete and could be complete by October 2016.

Rendering via Georgetown BID

by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Clear sailing on I-395 on 1/26/16If you have to drive to work today, your commute will at least be smooth once you get on the local highways.

Traffic volume on I-395, I-66 and Route 50 was relatively light this morning. Some delays were reported on I-395 at King Street earlier, possibly the result of snow clearing operations.

Every Metrorail line is running every 12 minutes except the Silver Line, which remains closed. WMATA was unable to open aboveground service on the Orange Line between East Falls Church and Vienna this morning, so Ballston is the Virginia end of the line.

Metrobuses are operating on a “severe snow plan” with half hour delays, while Arlington Transit service is operating on a Sunday schedule between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. with “severe service” detours. Only the ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 lines are running.

Arlington County snow removal crews, meanwhile, are making slow but steady progress on clearing neighborhood streets. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services said this morning that 30 percent of residential streets had been plowed.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list