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by Adrian Cruz — May 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm 0

Metro SafeTrack plan for June 2016

There will be nearly two weeks of continuous single-tracking between Metro’s Ballston and East Falls Church stations next month, and that’s just the start of a sweeping plan to make Metrorail safer and more reliable.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld released the final version of its SafeTrack plan on Tuesday. Intended to catch up on years of deferred maintenance, the plan will condense three years of track work into less than a year of a “safety surge,” resulting in major transit disruptions.

SafeTrack logo (image via Metro)The expedited maintenance, which will focus on various high-priority parts of the Metrorail system, comes as a result of the constant track problems and safety concerns about infrastructure Metro has faced over the past year.

The plan extends maintenance times on weekends, weeknights and midday hours and it also contains 15 “safety surge” projects, which will each involve 1-6 weeks of single tracking or complete shutdown of certain parts of the system.

The project will heavily affect rush hour commutes as service on the affected lines will be greatly reduced, resulting in extended wait times and more crowding on trains.

“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” said Wiedefeld in a press release. “SafeTrack also includes weeknight work that will require single track operations in sections starting at 8 p.m.; it means closing the system at midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m. and committing to a moratorium on extra hours of early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.”

Here’s the list of track outages will affect Arlington riders:

June 4-16: Ballston to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line runs every 18 minutes to/from stations Vienna to Ballston, additional trains from Ballston to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 18 minutes at all times.

June 18-July 13: Minnesota Ave/Benning Road to Eastern Market
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Orange and Silver line trains run every 10 minutes at all times, Blue line trains run every 12 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery only. Yellow Rush+ runs all day.

July 5-11: Reagan National Airport to Braddock Road
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Blue and Yellow line trains run every 12 minutes at all times.

July 12-18: Reagan National Airport to Pentagon City
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Blue and Yellow line trains run every 12 minutes at all times.

July 20-31: Ballston to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line runs every 18 minutes to/from stations Vienna to Ballston, additional trains from Ballston to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 18 minutes at all times.

Nov. 3-11: East Falls Church to West Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line trains run every 16 minutes from Vienna to New Carrolton, additional trains from EFC to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 16 minutes.

Dec. 7-24 (Minus Dec. 17): Pentagon to Rosslyn
Impact: Entire Line Shutdown
Service Change: No Blue Line service. Yellow Line Rush+ runs all day, delays and crowding expected. Arlington Cemetery station closed.

Jan. 2-13 and Jan. 23-Feb. 3: Braddock Road to Huntington/Van Dorn St.
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Blue Line trains run every 18 minutes. Yellow Line trains run every 6 minutes from National Airport to Mt. Vernon Square only. Shuttle trains running between Huntington and King Street only.

March 6-19: East Falls Church to West Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line trains run every 16 minutes from Vienna to New Carrolton, additional trains from EFC to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 16 minutes.

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

Home in bloom (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Arlington Resident, 101, Goes to First Caps Game — Gert Friedman, who’s 101 years old and has lived in Arlington since 1940, attended the Washington Capitals playoff game Saturday night and even got to ride around on the ice resurfacer during the first intermission. It was the first time Friedman had attended any NHL game. [Yahoo Sports]

Hernick Gets GOP Nod — GOP congressional candidate Charles Hernick will challenge Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in November. Hernick, an environmental consultant, was nominated at the 8th District Republican convention Saturday. Hernick’s opponent for the GOP nod, Mike Webb, said in a press release that he was “bamboozled.” [InsideNova]

County’s Reaction to Metro Track Plan — County leaders released a statement about Metro’s “SafeTrack” maintenance plan on Friday. It said in part: “We saw during the March all-day shutdown of Metrorail that our region is resilient and alternatives are possible. Our residents and businesses are resourceful and inventive. And Arlington’s emphasis on providing many travel options, which we’ve developed over many years, will continue to serve us well during this challenging time.” [Arlington County]

APS Plan Identifies Pressing Needs — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his proposed 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan last week. The plan “identified high school seats countywide and elementary seats in the Rosslyn/Ballston/Lee Highway corridor as the most pressing needs for APS in the next 10 years.” [Arlington Public Schools]

SoberRide Program Usage Rises for May 5 — The regional SoberRide program, which provides free taxi rides on certain festive holidays, served 225 people on Cinco de Mayo. That’s up 37 percent compared to last year. [InsideNova]

LEED Gold for Wakefield — Wakefield High School has officially earned LEED Gold sustainability certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. [Arlington Public Schools]

Donuts Popular on Mothers Day — There was reportedly a 90 minute wait at Duck Donuts yesterday, on Mothers Day. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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.

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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 — May 3, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Walkway (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Metro Delays and Traffic This Morning — There are residual delays on the Orange and Silver lines due to a malfunctioning train near the Clarendon Metro station earlier this morning. For drivers, morning rush hour traffic is noticeably heavier than usual around Northern Virginia inside the Beltway. [Twitter]

Firefighters Applaud New Metro Move — WMATA will now staff its Metrorail control center with a uniformed fire officer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Arlington’s firefighter association applauded the move, calling it a “positive step for the safety of firefighters and citizens in the DMV.” [WTOP, Twitter]

CARD to Hold School Board Debate — The Pike Presidents’ Group and the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for a wider distribution of affordable housing throughout the county, is holding a School Board candidate debate on Wednesday, May 11. CARD also sent a candidate questionaire to all four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Of them, only Tannia Talento declined to respond. [CARD, CARD]

Liberty Tavern Named Top Brunch Spot — A new-for-2016 list of the top brunch spots in the country, compiled from diner reviews by the restaurant reservation website OpenTable, includes The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. [OpenTable, Patch]

Mrs. Arlington Wins Mrs. VirginiaMrs. Arlington, Elizabeth Peace, has been crowned Mrs. Virginia America 2016. [Facebook]

Mall Launches Walking Program — Today, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is launching a new program called “Walk-Fit.” Open to all ages, the program is described as “an official way for walkers to meet up, exercise, socialize and even enjoy a morning cup of coffee,” all inside the mall.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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 13, 2016 at 9:35 am 0

Bluebells (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

District Taco Featured on CNBC — The amazing success story of District Taco and co-founder Osiris Hoil was featured on CNBC yesterday. [CNBC]

District Taco Gets New Neighbor — The new District Taco in Rosslyn will soon have a new neighbor at 1500 Wilson Blvd. A Wells Fargo bank is “coming soon” to a next-door ground floor retail space. There is an existing Wells Fargo branch down the street at 1300 Wilson Blvd. A branch in Courthouse recently closed. A bank spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. [Twitter]

Scaled-Down Long Bridge Aquatics Center Proposed — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz last night proposed a scaled-down version of the Long Bridge Park aquatics center. The original aquatics center design was shelved before it could be built due to construction estimates and an operating budget that were higher than expected. [InsideNova]

Congressional Delegation Writes to NPS Director — Arlington’s congressional delegation — Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer — has written to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, urging him to make sure NPS applies for a “FASTLANE” grant for reconstruction of the decaying Memorial Bridge, before the April 14 application deadline. However, the Park Service is said to be likely to miss the deadline. [Scribd, Washington Post]

Maker Economy Event in Crystal City — TechShop in Crystal City will be hosting a discussion of the “the maker economy and local manufacturing in the DMV region” next Wednesday, April 20. Early bird registration ends tomorrow. [LERCPA]

Beginning of the End for Metro’s 1000-Series — Metro retired the first of its aging 1000-series rail cars from service yesterday morning, calling it the “end of an era.” [YouTube]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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 17, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Damaged power cable in a Metro tunnel (via WMATA)In an unprecedented step, WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld shut down the entire Metrorail system on a weekday for emergency inspections.

Those inspections found more than two dozen damaged power cables along the tracks, the kind which caused a deadly fire and smoke incident in a tunnel outside of the L’Enfant Metro station last year.

With the damaged cables repaired, Metrorail service resumed this morning. Do you think the disruption to hundreds of thousands of people’s daily commutes was worth it?

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 16, 2016 at 8:55 am 0

Looking for evidence of a nightmare commute due to today’s Metrorail shutdown? Look no further than I-395.

I-395 is slow for the entire length of the highway, from the Beltway to the 14th Street Bridge. The good news is that traffic appears to be moving — just slowly.

Route 50 is also jammed, starting around Washington Blvd. The southbound lanes of the GW Parkway are slow from the bridge over Donaldson Run to Key Bridge, while northbound traffic is very heavy from Alexandria to the 14th Street Bridge. Washington Blvd is crawling all the way from I-395 to the Key Bridge.

There’s also heavier-than-usual traffic on some local roads. Clarendon Blvd is slow from Courthouse to Rosslyn. Eastbound Lee Highway jams up starting at N. Rhodes Street to Rosslyn. Pretty much the entire street grid of central Rosslyn is a mess.

There are some surprising bright spots: I-66 is pretty clear for most of the stretch inside the Beltway. Route 1 could be worse. And Columbia Pike traffic doesn’t appear to be out of the ordinary.

Despite the traffic mixed bag, it’s obvious that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) doesn’t want to make the Metro shutdown a regular occurrence, based on his tweet below.

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.

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