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by ARLnow.com March 20, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Slide from Dept. of Environmental Services budget presentation

(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Those who live and work along Columbia Pike will have to wait another year for the implementation of a “Premium Transit Network” along the corridor.

ARLnow.com has learned that the plan for enhanced bus service along the Pike has been pushed back from 2018 to 2019 due to “WMATA’s focus on SafeTrack and core operations.”

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services issued the following statement on the delay.

Originally proposed for summer 2018, implementation of the Columbia Pike Premium Transit Network is now planned for summer 2019. Much of the new service for this network depends on Metrobus, but Metrobus service improvements have been hampered by Metro’s SafeTrack program and the need for Metrobus to focus efforts on moving passengers around rail disruptions. The County is still working to improve local ART service on the original schedule, and we’ve started the purchase process for new buses needed for future service improvements.

Arlington’s Transit Bureau is working with WMATA and Fairfax County to develop an implementation plan for Columbia Pike service improvements. Metrobus has executed a contract to begin the planning and combine improvements included in both Arlington and Fairfax County’s Transit Development Plans.

The Premium Transit Network was criticized as not ambitious enough when it was approved last year, especially compared to the Columbia Pike streetcar plan it essentially replaced. County staff was directed to consider other enhancements to transit along the corridor to supplement it.

The streetcar project was cancelled in 2014. At the time, Arlington County Board member and streetcar critic Libby Garvey promised a transit replacement that “will do everything the streetcar could and more.”

The transit network is intended be “fast, frequent, reliable and easy to use, with features including simplified routes, increased weekday and weekend service, and a new one-seat bus ride from Skyline to Pentagon City-Crystal City,” according to a county press release last year. “In addition to new service, the Premium Transit Network includes new transit stations along Columbia Pike that will provide near-level boarding, longer platforms, real-time bus arrival information and off-vehicle fare collection.”

Although the transit network implementation has been delayed, Arlington County and WMATA have already implemented a number of planned enhancements to bus service along Columbia Pike and elsewhere in Arlington, according to slides from a Dept. of Environmental Services budget presentation that were posted online.

by Chris Teale March 16, 2017 at 1:25 pm 0

Pentagon City Metro (photo by Katie Pyzyk)

(Updated 2:40 p.m.) Engineers completed repairs of the tunnel leak, and trains are no longer sharing a track on the Yellow Line.

Original post:

Trains are single-tracking on Metro’s Yellow Line from Pentagon City into D.C. after water entered the tunnel south of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station.

Metro received the report of the infiltration shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Crews removed power to the electrified third rail on the nearby northbound tracks. After an inspection, engineers found water breaching the tunnel under pressure.

As of 1:25 p.m., trains were still single-tracking. Metro officials said an estimated repair time will be posted once more information is known.

Metro posted video of the leak online:

More from a Metro press release:

Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Metro received a report of water entering the Yellow Line tunnel south of L’Enfant Plaza. Metro removed third rail power on the inbound Yellow Line track. Upon inspection, engineers found water breaching the tunnel wall under pressure (see video below).

While there is no risk to the structural integrity of the tunnel, Metro has taken this action to prevent water from spraying on the electrified third rail. Yellow Line trains are single tracking between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City. The source of the water has not been determined, but all indications are that the water is originating from outside the Metro system.

Service Information

Yellow Line trains are subject to delays due to single tracking. Green and Blue line trains, while not single tracking, may experience congestion-related delays due to Yellow Line trains waiting to proceed through the single-track zone. Customers on both lines are advised to allow additional travel time.

Metro will provide an update on an estimated time of repair once more information is known.

by ARLnow.com February 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Metrobus and fire department vehicle (file photo)The strong winds Monday morning caused a frightening moment for a Metrobus driver in the Crystal City area.

The incident happened around 10 a.m. on S. Eads Street at 22nd Street S.

“The lid of a trash dumpster that was being pushed down the street was blown open by the wind striking the windshield of a Metrobus,” a Metro spokesman told ARLnow.com. “The bus operator was treated on site for minor injuries due to broken glass.”

The bus was not in service at the time and no other passengers were reported to be on the bus.

File photo

by Tim Regan February 8, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

Arlington Cemetery Metro station in the rain (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Metro’s next SafeTrack “surge” will include a temporary shutdown of the entire Blue Line, starting Saturday.

Blue Line trains will not run at all between Feb. 11-28, according to Metro. Instead, Yellow Line “Rush Plus” trains will run all day between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt. Those trains will run in addition to regular Yellow Line trains between Huntingdon and Mount Vernon Square.

The Arlington Cemetery station will be closed and will be served by buses from the Pentagon during the latest round of maintenance work.

During rush hour, trains are scheduled to arrive every four minutes at stations normally served by both Blue and Yellow Line trains, Metro said. Orange and Silver Line trains will not be affected by the latest track maintenance effort.

Metro originally planned to only run Blue Line trains between the Franconia-Springfield and Reagan National Airport stops. But the transit agency updated that plan on Jan. 27 after concluding the original one wasn’t necessarily “in the interest of minimizing customer impact.”

“The new service plan means that riders from Virginia will experience less crowding and will be able to ride into D.C. without changing trains,” the agency said in a release.

Next month, track work will primarily affect riders heading to and from Alexandria. From March 4-26, Metro trains will share a single track on the Blue and Yellow lines between the Braddock Road and Huntington/Van Dorn Street stations. Blue Line trains will run every 24 minutes during that time, while the Yellow Line between National Airport and Mt. Vernon Square will run every 6-12 minutes, according to Metro.

From March 26 through April 2, only Blue Line Trains will share a single track. Then, from April 3-9, Yellow Line trains are slated for single-tracking.

Later this year, likely around May and June, a portion of the Orange Line between the Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton stops is also scheduled to undergo maintenance and single tracking. The SafeTrack program is currently slated to wrap up in late June, though the final dates haven’t yet been announced.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by Tim Regan January 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm 0

Metrobus 5A to Dulles from Rosslyn(Updated at 10:04 p.m.) Some Metrobus routes in Arlington may soon get the ax if the transit agency’s latest budget proposal is approved.

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld last year announced a $3.1 billion “reality check” budget that includes fare hikes, longer wait times and cuts to bus routes throughout the D.C. area.

Among other changes in the 2018 fiscal year budget, riders would have to pay an additional 10 to 25 cents more for train and bus trips.

Metro would also consider eliminating the following routes that run through Arlington:

  • 5A D.C.-Dulles
  • 13Y Arlington-Union Station
  • 15K, L Chain Bridge Road
  • 17 A, B, F, M Kings Park
  • 18 P, R, S Burke Centre
  • 28X Leesburg Pike

The proposal would also modify the 16H Columbia Heights West-Pentagon City route to “provide two-way service 7 days a week between 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with service every 10 minutes during weekday rush hours and service every 20 minutes at other times,” Metro said. The 16G and 16K would be eliminated.

Additionally, the proposed budget could shorten the 16X Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle route by eliminating service between between the Pentagon Transit Center and the Federal Triangle Metro Station.

Metro riders gathered at the transit agency’s headquarters last night to weigh in on the proposed cuts. Some daily commuters pleaded with Metro officials not to cut their stops, according to WAMU.

Still, the agency must plug a budget gap of about $290 million, a number it said was “larger than recent years due to growing expenses to operate and maintain the system, and declining ridership.”

Riders who want to weigh in on the proposed changes have until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 6 to do so. Those interested can also fill out a survey to tell the agency how they feel about the budget.

by ARLnow.com January 27, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

A pedestrian tunnel connecting the Pentagon City Metro station to the northeast corner of the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S. is close to finally opening.

The tunnel was slated to open in 2015 after $1.3 million worth of repairs and upgrades but remained closed. It was initially built by a developer in 1984 but was never opened to the public due to “reasons related to safety, operational and legal issues,” according to Arlington County.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday will consider an agreement with WMATA for the county to take responsibility for maintaining and operating the tunnel. If approved, it will be considered by the WMATA board next month and the tunnel could open as soon as March 1.

The tunnel will only be open from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. More from a county staff report:

Repairs and signage are complete and the tunnel is ready to open for public use… Opening the pedestrian tunnel will provide an additional access/egress point to this busy Metrorail station, one of the County’s highest ridership stations and to the adjacent retail shopping mall, Fashion Centre.

WMATA requires a formal agreement with a public or private entity that wants to have direct access and pedestrian connection to a Metrorail station. WMATA and County staff completed negotiation of the attached Agreement, which specifies the terms, conditions and obligations of the connection to the Station. The Agreement states that the County is responsible for maintaining the pedestrian tunnel and the connection to the Station mezzanine in a clean condition, free of rubbish, leaves, snow, ice and graffiti. Also, the County is responsible for all maintenance repairs and upgrades to the pedestrian tunnel and the connection. Furthermore, the County will ensure that the pedestrian tunnel and the connection are, at all times, safe for pedestrian access to the Station and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

WMATA’s Board is scheduled to approve the Agreement in February 2017. Opening of the pedestrian tunnel is targeted for March 1, 2017.

The Deed of Easement established the hours of operation for the tunnel as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays only. The entry gate at the stairs to the pedestrian tunnel and the glass doors to the Metro mezzanine will be locked at all other times and when the Station is closed. A recent County proposal to expand the hours of operation for the tunnel was not supported by all signatories to the Deed of Easement. Staff can revisit this issue in the future.

by ARLnow.com January 25, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

It has been four years since Arlington County and WMATA opened the infamous $1 million bus stop at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive. So where are the rest of the upgraded transit stations planned for the Pike?

They’re coming, starting next year, the county says.

“The County Board approved $13.3 million for the planned 23 stations in Arlington’s FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan,” says a county webpage for the project. “Construction of the transit stations is expected to begin in 2018 and proceed in phases through 2021.”

“That schedule still holds,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet confirmed to ARLnow.com on Monday. “Design of site-specific improvements for the first six stations is underway. Design and construction for the remaining stations will be coordinated with the County’s plans for Columbia Pike street improvements and utility undergrounding.”

The per-station cost is still pegged around $575,000, well under the cost of the original prototype station. Originally, the stations were planned to serve the Columbia Pike streetcar, but with that project’s cancellation the stations will now serve WMATA and ART buses.

County staff is expected to present proposed revisions to its Transit Development Plan for the Pike in the second quarter of this year, with possible improvements to bus service along the corridor.

by Tim Regan January 12, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

SafeTrack logo (image via Metro)Major track work and possible delays are coming to Arlington as part of Metro’s first SafeTrack “surge” of the new year.

No trains will run on the Blue Line between Rosslyn and the Pentagon between Feb. 11-28, Metro announced earlier today. Blue Line trains will only operate between Franconia-Springfield and Reagan National Airport during the maintenance period.

Orange and Silver Line trains will not be affected by the latest SafeTrack surge, officials said.

Alexandria will bear the brunt of the next round of “surge” work. From March 4 to April 9, Metro trains will share a single track on the Blue and Yellow lines between the Braddock Road and Huntington/Van Dorn Street stations. Blue Line trains will run every 24 minutes during that time, while the Yellow Line between National Airport and Mt. Vernon Square will run every 6-12 minutes, according to Metro.

Later this year — at some point around May and June — a portion of the Orange Line between the Minnesota Avenue and New Carrollton stops is also scheduled to undergo maintenance and single tracking.

Track work was suspended this month due to the inauguration and “the potential for winter weather impacts,” according to Metro. The SafeTrack program is currently slated to wrap up in late June, though the final dates haven’t yet been announced.

SafeTrack is intended to “rehabilitate the Metrorail system to improve safety and reliability.” Two hours after Metro announced the updated SafeTrack schedule, Arlington County firefighters responded to the Rosslyn station for a report of an arcing insulator.

Track inspections did not find any significant smoke or fire, but the emergency response did have some traffic impacts in Rosslyn.

Image via Metro

by ARLnow.com January 6, 2017 at 5:55 pm 0

Arlington County fire truck(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) A large fire department response is arriving at the Pentagon City Metro station for a report of an arcing insulator near the station.

The electrical issue on the tracks was reported by a train operator. A rider said via Twitter that there was a haze and a smell of smoke at the station, which was reportedly being evacuated.

Blue and Yellow line service through Pentagon City is currently suspended. Commuters should expect traffic impacts near the station due to the emergency response.

Arriving firefighters are being told that the insulator is still smoking and that power is being shut down to one of the tracks, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 6:10 p.m. — The “situation has been mitigated,” according to scanner traffic, and fire department units are being placed back in service. Metro riders should expect residual delays and perhaps single tracking once service resumes.

by ARLnow.com November 23, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Metro’s next round of SafeTrack “surge” work begins Monday and it’s expected to have a major impact on Arlington commuters.

Surge #11 is scheduled from Nov. 28 to Dec. 21. The 24-day project will involve track work and single-tracking between the West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations, on the Orange and Silver lines.

Safetrack Surge #11 (map via WMATA)The first 14 days of the work are expected to be especially disruptive as Metro will be unable to run additional trains to make up for the reduction in service. That’s due to the location of the track work and Metro’s rail signaling service, officials said.

“There will be a severe reduction in train service,” said Joe Leader, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer. “The first two weeks of this surge will be the worst of anything our riders have experienced so far since we started Safetrack.”

Riders should expect “very crowded trains and platforms.” Trains running through Arlington may be so crowded that riders will be unable to board during rush hour.

Additional ART buses and Metrobus shuttles will run along Arlington’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor to help provide additional capacity during the surge. Arlington County is also encouraging commuters to telecommute during the project.

Ultimately, the track work is expected to result in a smoother ride and more reliable service along the Orange and Silver lines.

“It’s going to be intense for the first two weeks,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey, during a press conference at the West Falls Church Metro station. “It’s short term pain for a lot of gain and it’s something that we’ve got to do.”

by ARLnow.com November 15, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

The driver of an Arlington Transit bus has been cited by police after a crash in north Arlington this morning.

The crash happened just after 8:30 a.m. near the intersection of Little Falls Road, Yorktown Blvd and N. Kensington Street.

“The ART bus veered off the roadway and struck two vehicles,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The driver was cited with failure to maintain proper control.”

There were several people on board the bus at the time but no injuries were reported, Savage said. The two cars that were struck were parked at the time.

Photos by Samantha Moore

by ARLnow.com October 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm 0

Tonight’s evening commute was much worse than usual for many local residents.

A combination of factors — track problems on multiple Metrorail lines and a fuel spill that blocked the Outer Loop of the Beltway in Maryland — led to very crowded Metro stations and trains and very heavy traffic, particularly on I-395.

The latest Metro woes come as WMATA is reportedly considering raising fares to close a big anticipated budget shortfall.

by Tim Regan September 29, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Traffic on I-395 near ShirlingtonLocals will have a chance to learn about future travel choices along the I-395 corridor during a public meeting tonight.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is scheduled to hold an open house prior to the Arlington Transportation Commission meeting at 2100 Clarendon Blvd from 6:30-7:30 p.m. this evening.

The purpose of the open house is to discuss an ongoing DRPT study designed to come up with a list of projects eligible for funding from revenue generated by the plan to extend the 395 Express Lanes to Eads Street in Arlington.

Those projects could include better bus or rail service, more carpooling options and other ways to “support mobility, economic development, and sustainability goals for communities along the corridor,” officials said. Virginia has committed at least $15 million per year to funding possible projects.

Locals can weigh in on the study before the meeting by completing this DRPT survey.

by Tim Regan August 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

Derailed Metro train at the East Falls Church station (photo courtesy John Sonderman)

Metro Transit Police are opening an investigation into the cause of July’s train derailment at the East Falls Church Metro station.

About 75 passengers were on an Orange Line train on July 29 when it derailed around 6:30 a.m. The passengers were able to offload “without further incident,” Metro said the day of the derailment.

Though Metro’s safety department was investigating the cause of the incident, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld asked Metro Transit Police to open a parallel inquiry “following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings,” according to a press release.

“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said in a statement.  “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”

Wiedefeld added that the transit agency uncovered information that “raises potentially serious concerns” in the cause of the derailment.

More about the investigation from a Metro press release:

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today that the investigation into the East Falls Church derailment, which began as an administrative review by the Safety Department, has been expanded to include an investigation by Metro Transit Police.

Wiedefeld directed the Metro Transit Police Department to open a parallel investigation into the matter following a briefing in which investigators advised him of concerns arising from employee interviews, inspection reports, rail defect tracking, and video recordings.

“The administrative review uncovered information that warrants further investigation by Metro Transit Police,” Wiedefeld said.  “While Safety Department investigations determine cause and accountability, it is even more important to understand if other issues must be addressed with the way track inspections and maintenance have been conducted.”

Metro’s General Counsel, Patricia Y. Lee, has engaged two former Assistant U.S. Attorneys as Special Investigators to support the internal administrative review. Adam Hoffinger, a former AUSA for the Southern District of New York, and Peter White, a former AUSA for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, will work closely with Lee on this matter.  Both have extensive prosecutorial experience with complex cases.

“The public has a right to know that the tracks on which their trains run are being properly inspected,” said Wiedefeld. “The information uncovered to date raises potentially serious concerns, and we will take all actions necessary to get answers and hold people accountable.”

Wiedefeld assured riders today that the SafeTrack program underway (in which Metro tracks are being inspected and repaired) has been and will continue to be subject to quality controls from multiple internal and external groups to ensure all track work meets Metro’s high standards. (At the time of the derailment, East Falls Church interlocking had not yet been addressed as part of SafeTrack.)  Metro is engaging an outside engineering firm to conduct a comprehensive review of its track inspection program.

“While we continue the due diligence to identify the cause of any conditions that may have contributed to this incident, Metro is simultaneously repairing the system and providing better rules, training, quality control and line management,” said Wiedefeld.

Photo courtesy John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com August 15, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Google traffic map on 8/15/16Both drivers and Metro riders are finding a slow go on their way to work this morning.

The trouble started tragically this morning just before 5 a.m., when motorcyclist crashed on the Roosevelt Bridge. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at a local hospital and the bridge was closed to traffic for a crash investigation.

Route 110 and the GW Parkway have been backed up all morning as a result of the closure. Lanes have since reopened, but residual delays remain.

As of 8:30 a.m., there was also heavy traffic on I-395, Washington Blvd, and on Route 50 and I-66 from Glebe Road to D.C.

Meanwhile, on Metro, as of 9 a.m. the Yellow Line was only running from Huntington to the Pentagon due to a switch problem causing heavy congestion on the Green Line. Yellow Line riders heading into D.C. are being forced to continue their commute either via the Blue Line or buses.

Metrobuses in Arlington are also experiencing delays, due to the heavy traffic.

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