Metro is telling riders to “plan now” for the months-long shutdown of much of the Yellow Line in two weeks.
Starting on Saturday, September 10, the Yellow Line bridge and tunnels will close for up to eight months to undergo much-needed repair work. At the same time, work will also continue on connecting the new Potomac Yard station to the main rail system as that station prepares for a fall opening.
These major construction projects will completely shut down the Yellow Line and bring major service changes to the Blue Line until at least May 2023.
While Metro is offering free shuttles and parking — plus the Virginia Railway Express will be fare-free — the impact on local riders will be significant. Still, while these construction projects are billed as necessary and anticipated, many remain worried about the disruption it could cause to daily life in the region for eight months.
The first phase of the shutdown will last from September 10 until October 22, a period of about six weeks. During this time, all six stations south of Reagan National Airport will be closed. That includes Fairfax County and Alexandria stations: Braddock Road, King Street, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Eisenhower Avenue, and Huntington.
The Blue Line will remain in operation and trains will depart every seven to nine minutes from the National Airport station for most of the day, though it will be every 15 minutes after 9:30 p.m.
Due to crowding and service changes, Metro cautions riders traveling between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations to expect about 15 minutes of extra travel time.
Some “limited-stop shuttles” will also be available to take people from Arlington into D.C.
Metro also is warning about possible train troubles.
“If 7000-series trains remain out of service, trains will operate less frequently,” says Metro’s press release.
Also, don’t be alarmed by strange smells, says Metro.
“At times, the welding work and other construction activity in the tunnel may cause a noticeable odor for customers inside the station.”
The second phase of the shutdown will begin on October 23 and last until at least May 2023. While all stations will be reopened, there will still be no Yellow Line service. Blue and Green will service those stations that would normally just be Yellow. All trains coming from Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County will be routed through Rosslyn.
Metro is promising “additional Blue and Green Line service to keep customers moving,” but it can also be expected that those lines and the Rosslyn station will be much more crowded during the shutdown.
Blue Line trains will operate every 12 minutes and every 15 minutes after 9:30 p.m. Three limited-stop shuttles crossing the Potomac River will still be available after October 22, but only during weekday rush hours only.
More on the free shuttle service that will be provided, via the Metro press release, us below.
Arlingtonians planning on taking Metro this weekend might want to allot more time than usual for their trips.
All four Metro lines running through Arlington will have delays this weekend, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The transit authority said riders should expect “service adjustments” on Saturday and Sunday for lines running through Northern Virginia.
On the Blue and Yellow lines, Metro will be single-tracking between the stations at Reagan National Airport and Braddock Road. WMATA said riders should expect a train every 30 minutes.
The cause of the single-tracking is ongoing work at the Potomac Yard Metro station in Alexandria, according to WMATA. Originally scheduled to open this coming April, the station’s opening was pushed back to next September.
The Orange Line, meanwhile, will be shut down between the East Falls Church and Ballston Metro stations for radio cable installation.
“Trains will operate in two segments: Vienna to East Falls Church and Ballston to New Carrollton,” WMATA said on its website. “Free shuttle buses available.”
The Silver Line will only be running from East Falls Church out to the Wiehle-Reston East station. Silver Line riders will have to take a shuttle bus to continue on the Orange Line.
Unfortunately, a Metrorail line through Columbia Pike — supported by nearly 70% of ARLnow poll respondents — did not make the cut. But each of the potential future projects does start with changes that some Arlingtonians could see as benefits: a second Metro station in Rosslyn and a first-ever Georgetown stop.
After linking Rosslyn to Georgetown, all four expanded lines would run parallel to and to the north of existing east-west trains, connecting Arlington to West End, the southern halves of Dupont Circle and Logan Circle, and stopping at Union Station. From there, they veer north toward Greenbelt and New Carrollton, Maryland or south to National Harbor.
Two options stand out from the pack. First, a Silver Line express tunnel in Virginia starting at West Falls Church station, and stopping at a possible second Ballston station en route to a second Rosslyn station. Another intriguing possibility is a Blue Line loop to National Harbor, which would add some new direct transit connectivity to Arlington’s Crystal City-Pentagon City corridor.
WMATA says these two would have the second-greatest and greatest gains in new ridership and annual fare revenue, respectively.
While these changes could improve commutes, the projects are decades down the road, if they happen at all. Each of the two options above could take up to 25 years to fund (needing $20-25 billion), construct and complete.
Suspending for a moment how far away these new Metro projects could be, what do you think of WMATA’s proposed changes to connectivity in Arlington and just over the river?
Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]
SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]
GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]
New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]
Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]
Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]
Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]
Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday.
The closing of the Blue Line, which runs through parts of Arlington, is due to platform reconstruction work being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station. Additionally, work is being done at the Addison Road station in Maryland. The project was announced last year.
The next phase of Metro’s Platform Improvement Project begins on February 13 at Addison Rd and Arlington Cemetery Stations. As a reminder, these stations will be closed and Blue Line service will not operate through May 23.
— Metro (@wmata) February 3, 2021
Both the station and the Blue Line are planning to reopen on May 23.
A shuttle bus will run between the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations during the project. The shuttles will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes on the weekends. They will not stop at Arlington Cemetery after 7 p.m.
The construction work is part of a massive effort to reconstruct, modernize, and update station platforms throughout the system.
The work being done at the Arlington Cemetery station will include adding slip-resistant tiles, brighter LED canopy lighting, and lighted handrails on stairs. There will also be new platform shelters equipped with charging ports, improved platform speakers and PA system, better information screens, and renovated bathrooms.
This is the same type of work that closed down parts of the Orange Line and the entire Silver Line over the summer.
Normally, this type of work and necessary shutdown happens during the summer time when Metro ridership is historically lower. But with ridership down as much as 90% due to the pandemic, the Blue Line shut down is being initiated earlier in the year.
The Arlington Cemetery Metro station is “deteriorating” and Metro’s plan to fix it next year will cause some changes for commuters.
The platform reconstruction work is currently scheduled to take place from mid-February to May. During that time, those bound for D.C. and Maryland from the Pentagon and stations to the south will be served only by Yellow Line trains and the Yellow Line bridge.
The Arlington Cemetery station project is one of several capital projects Metro has planned for next year. More from WMATA:
Metro will rebuild deteriorating outdoor platforms at Arlington Cemetery, Addison Road, and four Green Line stations north of Fort Totten next year, continuing its robust capital program to keep the system safe and reliable for the next generation of riders. To date, Metro’s Platform Improvement Project has completed full platform replacements at 10 stations — six on the Blue and Yellow lines and four on the Orange Line. Construction activity is currently underway at Reagan National Airport Station marking the project’s halfway point, leaving nine stations to be completed in 2021 and 2022.
Arlington Cemetery and Addison Road stations will be closed for approximately three months for full platform replacement and station renovation. Silver Line trains will pass through the Addison Road construction site without stopping using a single track. Yellow Line trains will provide all trans-Potomac service for stations Pentagon and south.
“Metro will partner and work closely with local jurisdictions and transportation agencies to develop alternative travel options, including free shuttle buses and other mitigation plans,” Metro said. “Specific travel alternatives and rail service details will be announced in the coming months, along with public outreach to ensure awareness of the project.”
The Arlington Cemetery project is the only announced 2021 project affecting service in Arlington.
Metro has released the results of a pivotal study of options for increasing capacity of the Metrorail system, and the preliminary conceptual designs suggest big transit changes might eventually be coming to Arlington.
Among the ideas floated by the transit agency are a second Rosslyn Metro station, a new tunnel under the Potomac, and an new stretch of the Silver Line to either run down Columbia Pike or through North Arlington.
Metro says its “Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity & Reliability Study” is necessary because the existing Rosslyn tunnel is a bottleneck for all three lines, producing delays and crowding that will only get worse — particularly in Arlington — due to expected population and job growth.
The study is intended to “identify the best and most cost-effective solutions to address future ridership, service, and reliability needs on these Metrorail lines,” Metro said. “The approval of dedicated funding from Metro’s jurisdictional partners provides funding to bring the existing system into a state of good repair and keep it well maintained going forward; however, there are future transportation needs that we must begin addressing now.”
Among the changes being considered are:
- A second Rosslyn Metro station, with a pedestrian connection to the current station.
- A second tunnel across the Potomac.
- A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and upper Northwest D.C., and into Montgomery County.
- A Blue Line extension to run from Rosslyn through Georgetown and mid-city D.C., and into Prince George’s County.
- A new urban core loop “connecting Pentagon, Rosslyn, Georgetown, the Dupont and Shaw neighborhoods, and the Navy Yard/Waterfront area.”
- New “NoVa Circulator” option that will route some trains from the Pentagon, around Rosslyn and down the Orange/Silver line toward Courthouse.
- A Silver Line extension down Columbia Pike and up Route 7, connecting with the West Falls Church Station.
- A Silver Line extension north of I-66, through North Arlington and McLean.
Major capital projects like a Metro line extension would take several decades and the cost is only described as “high.”
The idea of running Metro down Columbia Pike was discussed while debate raged over the since-canceled Columbia Pike streetcar project, and might find some public support, but the concept of Metro running through mostly residential North Arlington seems much more politically infeasible. Wherever a new Metro line runs, big changes, development and a rise in property values can be expected, as happened with the original construction of the Metrorail system in Arlington.
A number of comparatively minor changes are also proposed, like pocket tracks, crossovers and turnarounds to better mitigate delays and incidents, reconfiguring train seats to provide more space, and adding new station entrances.
Metro says it is now embarking on a public engagement process, with a goal of selecting a set of “locally-preferred” options, both long- and short-term, by next fall.
A public open house is planned in Arlington next week, to be held Monday from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at George Mason University’s Van Metre Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square.
— Metro (@wmata) December 5, 2019
Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]
Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]
Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]
County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]
County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]
Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]
DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]
(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Metrorail riders, especially those heading toward D.C. on the Orange/Silver line, are experiencing major crowding due to an incident in the District overnight.
Two trains, neither of which were carrying passengers, collided near the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West Metro stations around 1 a.m. Both train operators were injured.
An investigation into the crash has prompted single-tracking past the scene, leading to major delays during the Monday morning commute. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are only running every 15 minutes, while the Silver Line is only running between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations.
Significant crowding has been reported at the East Falls Church and Ballston stations in Arlington. The cost of Uber and Lyft rides has also reportedly spiked.
More via social media and the Unsuck DC Metro Twitter account:
— Alison Sweet (@cat3ali) October 7, 2019
I've never seen the Ballston Metro this hectic. Silver line is shut down except between Ballston and Wiehle Reston. Orange running every 15 min. They are queuing people up to head into D.C. from Ballston. #dcmetro #commute @DCMetroandBus @dcmetrohero pic.twitter.com/deClwCTPrc
— Ashley Hopko (@AshleyHopko) October 7, 2019
Due to a collision between 2 non revenue trains outside Farragut West at 12:54 am, the following service changes are in effect:
BL/OR: Every 15 minutes
Single tracking from Foggy Bottom to McPherson Sq
SV: every 15 minutes from Wiehle to Ballston ONLY https://t.co/sgY4AuKzqG
— Rail Transit OPS (@RailTransitOPS) October 7, 2019
Metro is planning a full Yellow Line shutdown starting next week, and is warning riders of hefty delays along the Blue Line the two-week-long construction work.
The rail service hoping to complete major renovation work on the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River, prompting the closure. In all, the work will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 9.
“During rush hour, trains will run about half as frequently as usual, due to capacity limits at the Rosslyn tunnel,” Metro wrote in a release. “Customers may experience crowding.”
Blue Line trains will run every 16 minutes on weekdays through 8 p.m., then switch to 20-minute headways. Riders can also expect 16-20 minute headways on weekends.
The transit agency will offer free shuttle bus service to compensate for the shutdown, including:
- Between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon and between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza from opening until 8 p.m.
- Between Franconia-Springfield and L’Enfant Plaza and between Crystal City and L’Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.
Metro is urging riders to consider Virginia Railway Express service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street to L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station, or local bus options instead.
The shutdown will also coincide with a weekend shutdown of five Green Line stations from Dec. 1-2, when the Navy Yard, Waterfront and Archives stations will be closed, along with the Yellow and Green Line platforms only at Gallery Place-Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza.
This construction is Metro’s last planned major construction work of the year, and comes on the heels of a Veteran’s Day shutdown on the Blue and Yellow lines that prompted huge traffic woes for travelers hoping to reach Reagan National Airport.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Metro officials are sending an unusual, and perhaps alarming, message to commuters ahead of two weeks of major construction on the Silver, Orange and Blue lines: stay away, if you can.
Starting Saturday (Aug. 11) and running through Aug. 26, Metro will shut down the Blue Line completely starting at the Arlington Cemetery station, and single-track between the McPherson Square and Smithsonian stations. Officials expect that will result in 20-minute headways on the Orange and Silver lines “at all times,” and it’s urging riders to “only use Metrorail if you have no other option.”
That’s sure to create huge headaches for commuters all over Arlington, but county officials say there just isn’t much they can do to mitigate the impact of the track work.
“There’s just no way we can replace the capacity that’s going to be lost,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey, who also serves on Metro’s Board of Directors, told ARLnow. “There are alternatives, but the only way this is really going to work is if people who can and are able to find alternatives, do so.”
Dorsey suggested that some commuters could turn to Metrobus, or perhaps to Arlington Transit — Metro recommends ART’s 42 line between Ballston and the Pentagon and the 43 line between Courthouse and Crystal City, as both could help commuters transfer to the Yellow Line, which will have some enhanced service.
Dorsey added that the county will be able to bump up service on some ART routes reaching the city, but only slightly, noting “we just don’t have enough buses to be deployed” to fully compensate for the construction work.
Fundamentally, however, Dorsey expects “extreme crowding” and “incredible chaos” at Metro stations in D.C.’s urban core, particularly during the first few days of the track work before commuters fully adjust. That’s why he’d rather see people turn to teleworking, if possible, or adjust their commutes to arrive in D.C. a bit later than normal.
“We want to make sure to level-set expectations, and let them know that getting them there within an acceptable time frame not going to be possible,” Dorsey said. “But this is being done with the expectation, too, that fewer people will be affected at this time of the year.”
Yet some of Metro’s (many) critics suggest that WMATA isn’t doing all it could to make life easier for commuters as the work gets going. Stephen Repetski, a close Metro observer and contributor at Greater Greater Washington, has suggested that WMATA could “turn back” trains at select Silver, Orange and Blue stations, in order to ease the pain at stations outside of the work zone.
In particular, Repetski believes Metro could reverse trains at Arlington stations like Ballston or Clarendon, which would be a boon for county commuters. He argues that failing to do so “will result in severe, and unnecessary, service cuts for riders.”
Places where #wmata could turn Orange/Silver trains to provide more service outside of the single-tracking area:
– Foggy Bottom
– Eastern Market
– Stadium Armory
Not all are desirable locations, but all are feasible.
— Metro Reasons (@MetroReasons) August 5, 2018
But Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly wrote in an email that turning back trains at Ballston, Clarendon, Foggy Bottom or stations in the eastern half of the city “would not address the capacity issues in the downtown core, requiring customers traveling to/from downtown D.C. to offload and board already crowded trains.”
“In this scenario, it could create dangerous crowding conditions on platforms as trains would likely be too crowded for customers to board,” Ly wrote.
As for McPherson Square and Smithsonian, Ly says “the location of the work zone” makes turning trains around at the stations a real challenge.
“The work zone…extends beyond the platform at both McPherson Square and Federal Triangle,” Ly wrote. “Turning a train would block trains coming through the single track, while a train offloads and turns back. For service efficiency, we would need both platforms to turn trains back.”
All those specifics aside, Dorsey reiterates that two solutions remain the simplest for commuters: “Either don’t ride, or temper your expectations.”
“If you’re able to do one or both, then you’ll be fine,” Dorsey said.