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
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Metro PD Searching for Sexual Battery Suspect — Metro Transit Police are trying to identify a man who may have touched another rider inappropriately on an Orange Line train near the Clarendon station last week. [NBC Washington]
Local Tax Relief for Seniors — Last year 929 Arlington residents took advantage of the county’s real estate tax relief program for seniors, together saving $4.1 million in taxes. [Falls Church News-Press]
County Honors Transportation ‘Champions’ — “The Arlington County Board today honored 22 businesses as Platinum Level Champions for their commitment to operating and enhancing sustainable transportation programs for employees and tenants.” [Arlington County]
Resident Helps ACPD Arrest Break-in Suspects — On Saturday an Arlington resident spotted a group of people breaking into car and immediately called 911, leading to the arrest of three juvenile suspects. Police say such cooperation from the community can help them fight crime. Over the weekend more than 30 vehicles were “entered and rummaged through” in Arlington. [Facebook]
Alexandria Schools Closed Wednesday — Alexandria City Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday after more than 300 staff members requested leave. That coincides with Wednesday’s “Day Without Women” protest. Arlington Public Schools will remain open, a spokesman said, although Wednesday is an early release day for elementary schools. [Twitter, InsideNova]
Orange Line’s Abysmal On-Time Rate — Last year trains on Metro’s Orange Line were only on time 56 percent of the time. [Twitter]
Spotlight on Uyghur Cuisine — Crystal City’s Queen Amannisa is one of three restaurants serving Uyghur cuisine — with its mix of Chinese, Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences — in the D.C. area. Uyghur “is going to be the next big thing in the United States,” said a partner in the restaurant. [Washington Post]
Chick-fil-A Coming to DCA — A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is coming to Terminal C at Reagan National Airport, in the former Cosi space. [PoPville]
Grand Opening for Xfinity Store — On Saturday Comcast celebrated the grand opening of its new 6,700 square foot Xfinity store in Courthouse. The store replaces the former Comcast Service Center in Clarendon. The store “features a comfortable seating area and informational, interactive displays where customers can learn more about Comcast’s products and services, including Comcast Business services, the X1 Entertainment Operating System, Xfinity Home automation and security offerings and Comcast’s suite of mobile apps.”
Hazmat Incident, Arrests on I-66 — Two people were arrested on drug charges Saturday after their SUV broke down on I-66 and police found a suspicious liquid in and a suspicious smell coming from the vehicle. Lanes of westbound I-66 were shut down while a hazmat team investigated the substance. [WUSA, NBC 4]
Man Arrested for Sexual Assault on Orange Line Train — A man allegedly exposed himself and then tried to force a woman to perform a sex act on an Orange Line train Monday afternoon. The incident happened as the train was approaching the Dunn Loring station, but the man was reportedly arrested in Arlington and held at the county jail. [WTOP]
APS Still Searching for More Space — Arlington Public Schools officials have been busy trying to add more high school seats as a student capacity crunch continues and is expected to get worse at the top grade levels. For now, APS appears to be focused on adding seats at existing high schools and adding additional capacity through new high school programs, like the just-launched Arlington Tech program, as opposed to opening a fourth comprehensive high school. [InsideNova]
Photo (above) of Rosie the Riveter event at the Netherlands Carillon courtesy Valerie Crotty
The first incident happened in Arlington County on March 28, aboard a Blue Line train to Franconia. The suspect, William Madison, Jr., was subsequently arrested and charged with indecent exposure on July 29. Then, on August 15, Metro Transit Police say Madison again exposed himself to a woman, this time on an Orange Line train in Fairfax County.
Police believe Madison might have committed similar crimes that went unreported, and are asking any additional victims to come forward.
From a Metro press release:
For the second time in less than three weeks, Metro Transit Police (MTPD) have arrested a Virginia man on charges of indecent exposure. The suspect, William Madison, Jr., 47, of Alexandria, is now facing charges in Arlington and Fairfax counties.
Madison was first arrested by Transit Police on July 29 after being located by the MTPD warrant squad. The original offense occurred in Arlington County March 28, 2016, aboard a Franconia-bound Blue Line train. Madison is accused of exposing himself to an adult female passenger aboard the train. Following his arrest, Madison was released on his personal recognizance.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. Monday, August 15, Madison allegedly exposed himself to an adult female passenger aboard a Vienna-bound Orange Line train. MTPD detectives were able to identify Madison using CCTV cameras and subsequently obtained an arrest warrant. Madison was re-arrested yesterday at Huntington Station while attempting to enter the Metrorail system. He was transported to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, where he was held on a $1,000 secured bond.
Based on these circumstances, Transit Police detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone with information for investigators is urged to call the MTPD Criminal Investigations Division at (301) 955-3000.
Metro’s fifth SafeTrack maintenance surge will cause a “severe service reduction” on portions of the Orange and Silver lines for 11 days starting tomorrow.
From Wednesday, July 20 until Sunday, July 31, Orange and Silver line trains will continuously single track between the East Falls Church and Ballston stations. This is the same area that was affected during first Metro SafeTrack surge.
On weekdays, Orange Line trains between Vienna and Ballston are expected to operate every 18 minutes. Silver Line trains will run every 18 minutes during the surge, according to Metro.
Additional Orange Line trains will operate between Ballston and New Carrollton during the maintenance period. Trains from Vienna to Ballston and Wiehle-Reston East to Ballston are likely to be extremely crowded, especially during rush-hour, Metro said.
“Customers at Ballston should consider using the additional train service that originates at Ballston and will board on the opposite platform from through-train service,” the agency advised in its latest announcement. “This may lengthen your departure time, but will give you the best opportunity to find space.”
Metro Commuters who have the ability to do so should consider alternate travel options and avoid traveling during rush hour if possible, Metro added.
An Arlington County website has the following information those affected by the latest Metro surge:
Street operations changes
- Temporary changes around Ballston, East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations will accommodate additional Metro and regional buses during rush hours. These changes include removing some street parking and converting some street sections to bus-only, and adjusting traffic signal operations, as needed, to accommodate increased bus service.
- Changes around the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations, for Surges 2 to 4, have been discontinued.
Supplemental local bus service
- Using 40-foot buses for ART 55 (East Falls Church-Lee Highway-Rosslyn) to add capacity along the affected section of the Orange/Silver line.
- Each 40-foot bus has five more seats and room for more standees compared to the 35-foot bus normally used on this route.
- New midday, evening and weekend service for ART 43 (Crystal City-Rosslyn-Courthouse), which started during Surge 2, continues to be available.
- For changes to bus service operated by Metro and other jurisdictions, visit Metro’s website.
Alternate work and travel options
The County is encouraging telework/flex time, ridesharing, biking and walking – options other than driving alone:
- Arlington Transportation Partners is reaching out to employers and building managers to urge them to encourage telework or flex schedules and provide travel option information.
- Arlington’s Commuter Page has travel option resources for residents and businesses – for example, assistance for vanpooling and other car-free options.
- Arlington County Commuter Services Hispanic Marketing offers comprehensive information about each surge in Spanish.
- For teleworkers who can’t work at home, Arlington Public Libraries offer wifi, office equipment, design stations with Adobe software, and small meeting rooms.
For those who bike, these changes are continued from prior surges:
- New Capital Bikeshare station at the East Falls Church Metrorail station, and additional capacity at Bikeshare stations at the Ballston and Rosslyn Metrorail stations.
- Additional temporary bike parking capacity at Ballston and Rosslyn Metrorail stations.
- Enhanced wayfinding along trails and commuter routes for bicyclists – Bike Routes – Orange/Silver Line direction
- Custom Bike Trains arranged for County residents upon request – contact [email protected].
Video via Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
The second round of closures related to Metro’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan is slated to take effect today, with big impacts to Blue Line service in Arlington.
Maintenance crews will work on portions of the Orange, Silver and Blue lines until July 3, according to a service advisory.
On the Orange Line, trains will not run between Eastern Market and Minnesota Ave/Benning Road. Orange and Silver line trains will run every 10 minutes between Vienna/Wiehle-Reston and Eastern Market.
On the Blue Line, trains will not run between between Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn. Trains will, however, run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery each weekday until 10 p.m. Yellow Line trains will run on a Rush+ schedule all day on weekdays to compensate for the loss of Blue Line service.
Metro will provide shuttle service for riders traveling to and from affected stations. Arlington County has also expanded ART 43 service, which runs between Rosslyn and Crystal City, on middays, evenings and weekends until Aug. 20.
Trains may be extremely crowded, especially during rush hour, Metro officials said. Regular riders are encouraged to use commuting alternatives such as carpooling or telecommuting.
Video Courtesy WMATA
It was not a good morning commute if you were driving on Route 50 or riding Metro’s Orange or Silver lines over the last hour or so.
First, a crash on Route 50 at N. Fillmore Street around 8 a.m. left a vehicle on its side and one person trapped, before being extricated by firefighters. The eastbound lanes of Route 50 just reopened after an extended closure. Delays extends back several miles.
On Metro, a number of issues on the Orange and Silver line have produced big delays and crowded station.
Orange Line: Expect delays in both directions due to a signal problem outside West Falls Church.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2016
Orange/Silver Line passengers, trains single tracking btwn Ballston & Court House. Disabled train at Clarendon, expect delays. 8:39a #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2016
Disabled Orange Line train at Clarendon moving off the line. Expect delays as trains resume spacing. 8:44a #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2016
As a bonus, there were also some issues on the Yellow and Blue lines.
Disabled Yellow Line train at King Street moving off the line. Expect residual delays as trains resume spacing. 8:38a #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2016
Yellow/Blue Line: Normal service has resumed at King Street.
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) April 5, 2016
— @wmata (@wmata) January 25, 2016
Metro restored some aboveground service on several of its train lines today.
The transit authority reopened aboveground stations between Ballston and New Carrollton on the Orange Line, Union Station and Glenmont on the Red Line and Fort Totten and Branch Avenue on the Green Line at 11 a.m.
Though Metro announced yesterday its plans to reopen some stations that were closed during the blizzard, those plans did not originally include aboveground service restorations.
The stations between East Falls Church and Vienna and along the Silver Line are still currently closed. More stations may open throughout the day, according to Metro spokesman Richard Jordan. Though Jordan did not say which stations might be reopened next, he said to expect an update later this afternoon.
Fares will not be charged today, and trains will run every 20-25 minutes until midnight.
Metro will also restore service to the 5A bus route between L’Enfant Plaza and Dulles Airport at noon today.
Metro today announced it will reopen its stations for limited — but free — Metrorail and Metrobus service tomorrow.
Red, Orange and Green line trains only will run between 7 a.m. tomorrow and midnight.
Service on these lines will be limited to underground stops and trains will run every 20-25 minutes, Metro said.
Orange Line trains will run between Ballston and Eastern Market, Red Line trains will run between Medical Center and Union Station and Green Line trains will run between Fort Totten and Anacostia.
Buses will operate every 30 minutes on just 22 routes between 12 and 5 p.m. tomorrow. According to Metro, “many of these routes will operate on snow emergency routes only to keep vehicles off hilly terrain, narrow side streets and other problem areas.”
The following bus routes will have service tomorrow:
- D.C.: 32, 33, 36, 53, 70, 90, A6, A8, P12, S4, U8, X2
- Maryland: C4, D12, K6, Q2, V4, Y2, Z8
- Virginia: 16A, 16E, 28A
A piece of maintenance equipment — like the one pictured, left — broke down just outside the National Airport station this afternoon, leading to single-tracking. While the equipment was eventually moved to allow normal rail operations, delays lingered into the evening rush.
Via Twitter, riders reported various problems, from long delays to trains being offloaded at already-crowded station.
— SavetheBlueLine (@savetheblueline) January 11, 2016
@unsuckdcmetro Been sitting at Crystal City for over 30mins. 3 trains passed heading towards pentagon. What a mess!
— Keith P. (@Keith_Alan1) January 11, 2016
— mdoodly (@mdoodly) January 11, 2016
— ChristopherStevenson (@IrishElCucuy) January 11, 2016
@unsuckdcmetro Yellow Line to Huntington was just offloaded at Pentagon.
— Ian Platz (@Ian_Platz) January 11, 2016
— Liz Sourlemon (@lizsourlemon) January 11, 2016
As of publication time, even more issues and delays were being reported on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines in D.C.
Opower Staying in Arlington — In a “symbolic economic development win” for Arlington, Courthouse-based tech firm Opower will be staying put, at least for a couple of years. The company, which was visited by President Obama in 2010 and went public in 2014, was considering a move and was being courted by property owners in D.C. It has renewed its 42,000 square foot lease in Courthouse Tower (1515 N. Courthouse Road) through May 2018. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Has ‘Scars’ from Former Railroad Lines — Even in places in Arlington that have since been paved over with development, you can still see the “scars” from former rail lines in aerial photos. D.C. also has its fair share of “scarhitecture.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Orange Line Delays This Morning — There were delays on Metro’s Orange Line this morning after trains started single-tracking between West Falls Church and Vienna due to a track problem. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Price Dip for Orange Line Homes in 2016? — Houses and condos along the Orange Line in Arlington’s 22201 Zip code appreciated in value by double digits this year. But a dip in prices around the Clarendon and Ballston areas may be ahead in 2016, according to an analytics firm. [Washington Post]
Marymount Farmers Market Proposed — A farmers market has been proposed for Marymount University. This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to defer consideration of a use permit for the market until February due to “zoning-related issues.” [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Foggy Morning in Arlington — Updated at 10:50 a.m. — D.C. and much of Northern Virginia, including Arlington, are under a dense fog advisory through 1 p.m. Earlier this morning, the FAA was reporting departure delays between 31 and 45 minutes at Reagan National Airport due to low clouds. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Doug Duvall