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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.

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 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm 0

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Arlington Cemetery station was temporarily closed — and Blue Line service suspended — due to a reported fire on the track this afternoon.

Two separate fires were put out with a fire extinguisher, according to scanner traffic. Metro is advising riders to expect delays.

From Metro:

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.

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