Get ready for some Metro construction disruptions.
Four Orange Line stations will close starting this Saturday, June 3 through Sunday, June 25, to allow for replacement of four-decade-old steel rails. The closures include East Falls Church in Arlington, plus Dunn Loring and West Falls Church in Fairfax County.
Shuttle buses will replace trains for Orange Line riders going between the Ballston and Vienna stations, and Silver Line riders traveling between Ballston to McLean. A second phase of work, which will result in no Orange Line service just between West Falls Church and Vienna, is scheduled from June 26 to July 16.
More from a Metro press release:
Beginning Saturday, June 3, Metro will begin rail replacement work on the Orange Line in Virginia. During construction, which will be done in two phases to minimize station closures, Metro will replace the original 40-year-old steel rail between Ballston-MU and Vienna stations. Replacing the track in this section is a top priority to ensure safety and increase reliability. Crews will also install fiber-optic cables during this shutdown to modernize communications and allow for more efficient maintenance in the future.
Free shuttle bus service will be available for customers during all station closures. Customers are advised to plan extra time for their travel. Metro is boosting outreach to customers at the affected stations and will have prominent signage, announcements in stations and on trains, and teams of outreach personnel to assist customers with the temporary travel patterns during the construction.
“Replacing some of the oldest tracks in our system is critical to safety and reliability, and crews will work 24/7 to complete this project as quickly as possible so we can get back to normal service,” said Metro Chief of Infrastructure Andy Off. “We make every effort to minimize impacts to our customers, and we thank them for their patience while we continue to build a safe and modern Metro to serve the entire region.”
Customers will continue to have normal or near normal service outside of the work zones, with frequent service on the busiest parts of the system in the downtown core area with stations served by multiple lines. Between Rosslyn and Stadium-Armory and between L’Enfant Plaza and Mt Vernon Sq trains will arrive at stations every 4-6 minutes all day.
Detailed shuttle service information from Metro is 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.
Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]
Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]
Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]
Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]
Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]
Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]
Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]
Trackbed lighting installation is prompting the closure of four Orange and Silver line stations in Arlington this weekend.
The Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations will be closed Saturday and Sunday, WMATA says on its website.
Shuttle buses will run between East Falls Church and Rosslyn throughout the course of the weekend.
On either end of the Orange and Silver lines, trains will run every 12-15 minutes, as usual. At night, the last train on each of the Orange and Silver lines will run some 35-40 minutes earlier than usual, to accomodate shuttle schedules.
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
(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
Arlington County firefighters are on scene of a reported track fire near the East Falls Church Metro station.
The fire was reported just outside of the station, along the Orange and Silver line tracks. Metro workers have extinguished the fire, according to scanner traffic.
Metro trains were temporarily single-tracking in the area as a result of the fire.
UPDATED: Orange/Silver Line Delay: Trains are single tracking thru East Falls Church due to a track problem outside East Falls Church. Expect delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 24, 2019
UPDATED: Orange/Silver Line Delay: No longer single tracking. Residual delays continue in both directions following an earlier track problem outside East Falls Church.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) September 24, 2019
(Updated at 7:50 p.m.) A person has been struck by a train at the Courthouse Metro station.
Firefighters are on the scene and have entered the trackbed, after power was shut off to the third rail.
The person appears to have intentionally jumped in front of train, according to Metro Transit Police, and was reportedly found deceased by firefighters.
Trains are now single-tracking on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines as a result of the incident. The station is temporarily closed to passengers.
Court House update: Unfortunately, the individual struck by train did not survive. Confirmed intentionally placed themselves in the path of an arriving outbound Orange Line train at approx 6:40 p.m. Investigation ongoing. #wmata
— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) February 1, 2019
Blue Line Alert: Trains are single tracking btwn Arlington Cemetery & Foggy Bottom due to a person struck by a train. Expect delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 31, 2019
Orange/Silver Line Delay: Trains are single tracking btwn Clarendon & Foggy Bottom due to a person struck by a train. Expect delays in both directions.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) January 31, 2019
— Daniel Danckaert (@danckaert) January 31, 2019
Photo courtesy @SteveBoyntonVT
Update 10/30/18: Timothy Day has been arrested, according to Metro Transit Police. Officers are now trying to determine if there are additional victims in the case.
JUST IN: Timothy L. Day has been arrested by MTPD warrant squad following media coverage. Thank you for your tips! Day is being held w/o bond pending court appearance tomorrow. MTPD believes there may be other victims, who are encouraged to call us at (301) 955-5000. #wmata pic.twitter.com/3J6sMcuP3b
— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) October 30, 2018
Earlier: Police are looking for a registered sex offender from Maryland who’s accused of touching a woman inappropriately on a crowded Orange Line train.
The alleged incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 21. Metro Transit Police say a 24-year-old woman at the Court House station reported that she was on the train when “a male subject who was not known to her placed his hand on her buttocks.”
“She also observed him standing ‘abnormally’ behind another female patron and put his hands down his shorts and ‘adjust his crotch area,’ said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. “The victim stated that the suspect followed behind another female patron as he got off the train at Foggy Bottom.”
After a review of video footage and other evidence, Transit Police identified the suspect as Timothy L. Day, 58, of Rockville, and charged wim with assault. As of Friday evening a warrant was issued for his arrest but he was not yet in police custody.
Day is a registered sex offender, according to MTPD. He was previously accused of other sexual crimes on a Boston MBTA subway train in 2004 and a Metro train in Arlington in 2002, according to news reports.
“Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call MTPD,” said Stessel.
WANTED BY MTPD: Timothy L. Day, 58, of Rockville, MD — Active warrant for assault & battery in Virginia. HAVE INFORMATION ABOUT HIS WHEREABOUTS? Call MTPD detectives at 301-955-5000 or send a text to MyMTPD (696873) Do not take action other than calling police. #wmata pic.twitter.com/EcO1R1WHLu
— Metro Transit Police (@MetroTransitPD) October 26, 2018
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.
Metro is planning plenty of maintenance and construction this weekend, April 28-29, with work set to cause delays on all six lines.
Trains will run only once every 24 minutes on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines, with single tracking in store for riders as well, Metro says.
Silver Line trains will only run between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations throughout the weekend, and Orange and Blue Line trains will be sharing a track between Eastern Market and Stadium-Armory to allow for rail maintenance work.
Metro is also warning riders to prepare for significant delays on the Red Line, with trains expected every 28 minutes. That’s in part due to single tracking between Farragut North and Union Station, as workers install equipment to support cell service in Metro tunnels.
On the Yellow and Green Lines, trains are expected to run every 15 minutes.
Yellow Line trains will only run between the Huntington and Mt. Vernon Square stations. Metro is also expecting Green Line trains to share a track between the Southern Avenue and Naylor Road stations.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman