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Yellow Line Metro bridge over the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Metro is telling riders to “plan now” for the months-long shutdown of much of the Yellow Line in two weeks.

Starting on Saturday, September 10, the Yellow Line bridge and tunnels will close for up to eight months to undergo much-needed repair work. At the same time, work will also continue on connecting the new Potomac Yard station to the main rail system as that station prepares for a fall opening.

These major construction projects will completely shut down the Yellow Line and bring major service changes to the Blue Line until at least May 2023.

While Metro is offering free shuttles and parking — plus the Virginia Railway Express will be fare-free — the impact on local riders will be significant. Still, while these construction projects are billed as necessary and anticipated, many remain worried about the disruption it could cause to daily life in the region for eight months.

The first phase of the shutdown will last from September 10 until October 22, a period of about six weeks. During this time, all six stations south of Reagan National Airport will be closed. That includes Fairfax County and Alexandria stations: Braddock Road, King Street, Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Eisenhower Avenue, and Huntington.

The Blue Line will remain in operation and trains will depart every seven to nine minutes from the National Airport station for most of the day, though it will be every 15 minutes after 9:30 p.m.

Due to crowding and service changes, Metro cautions riders traveling between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations to expect about 15 minutes of extra travel time.

Some “limited-stop shuttles” will also be available to take people from Arlington into D.C.

Metro also is warning about possible train troubles.

“If 7000-series trains remain out of service, trains will operate less frequently,” says Metro’s press release.

Also, don’t be alarmed by strange smells, says Metro.

“At times, the welding work and other construction activity in the tunnel may cause a noticeable odor for customers inside the station.”

The second phase of the shutdown will begin on October 23 and last until at least May 2023. While all stations will be reopened, there will still be no Yellow Line service. Blue and Green will service those stations that would normally just be Yellow. All trains coming from Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County will be routed through Rosslyn.

Metro is promising “additional Blue and Green Line service to keep customers moving,” but it can also be expected that those lines and the Rosslyn station will be much more crowded during the shutdown.

Blue Line trains will operate every 12 minutes and every 15 minutes after 9:30 p.m. Three limited-stop shuttles crossing the Potomac River will still be available after October 22, but only during weekday rush hours only.

More on the free shuttle service that will be provided, via the Metro press release, us below.

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Yellow Line Metro bridge over the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Local officials are concerned that major work on the Yellow Line, starting in September, will cause significant problems — and are asking Metro to come up with solutions.

Last week, WMATA announced that the Yellow Line tunnel and bridge crossing the Potomac will shut down starting September 10 for up to eight months due to much-needed rehab work.

Additionally, for six weeks, rail service south of National Airport will also be shut down to continue work on the new Potomac Yard station.

The shutdown announcements were not unexpected. About a year ago Metro said its plan was to fast track the work, warning that the bridge was “beyond its useful life.” In October, Metro said riders should expect the shutdown to happen by fall 2022. At the time, though, timelines and the duration of the shutdown wasn’t entirely clear.

Now, we know that Metro is expecting seven to eight months of severely-reduced service. The Yellow Line won’t return to full operations until at least April or May 2023.

While Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) concedes that the work is very necessary, he’s concerned the long shutdown will cause major delays and disruptions for local commuters, as he wrote in a statement last week.

Announcements of the upcoming completion and opening of the Potomac Yard station and the Silver Line Extension are both good news for the region, and will bring substantial benefits to Northern Virginia.

The construction work needed to finish the Potomac Yard station and the closure of the Yellow Line tunnel over the Potomac for safety maintenance will result in major commute disruptions for many of my constituents beginning in September. I am especially concerned for those who commute through the Huntington and Eisenhower Ave. stations, and increased bus service from WMATA and its regional partners will be key to minimizing the impacts on these riders. I urge WMATA to maximize Blue Line service to the extent possible to help compensate for increased traffic as Yellow Line riders shift their commutes during this work.

Capital projects and infrastructure maintenance are important to provide safe, reliable service to the region, but especially given the recent disruptions from the pandemic and 7000 series car issues, it is vital that WMATA do everything possible to look out for riders affected by this work.

Christian Dorsey, County Board Vice-Chair and former WMATA board member, said in a statement to ARLnow that he’s asking WMATA for solutions, in particular requesting the agency to work with Arlington Transit to provide bus alternatives to train service.

WMATA’s closure of the Yellow Line between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations in September reflects both valuable and necessary investments in our transportation infrastructure and a tremendous disruption to transit riders. The shutdown will come at a most unfortunate time as our region attempts to return to our pre pandemic normal. WMATA must increase Blue Line service to the greatest extent possible, but even then, the capacity limitations of the Rosslyn crossing mean that the transit experience to the Pentagon, our National Landing activity centers, and to National Airport will be degraded. To mitigate these impacts, we need WMATA to provide sufficient increases in bus service crossing the Potomac and to work with transit providers like Arlington Transit (ART) to offer comparable alternatives to the vital service the Yellow Line provides.

Both Metro and Arlington Transit tell ARLnow that they are working together to “develop travel alternatives,” but specific plans will not be announced until the Yellow Line construction plans are finalized.

More information isn’t expected until “early summer,” according to Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

In 2021, an average of more than 10,000 riders used one of the four Arlington Yellow Line stations (Reagan National Airport, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Pentagon) on a daily basis, according to Metro statistics.

Arlington’s neighbor Alexandria is also preparing for the shutdowns, particularly as it relates to the new Potomac Yard station on the Yellow Line. Service is supposed to start in the fall, but Metro’s announcement noted that work to connect the tracks to the rest of the rail system will take until the end of October.

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Morning Notes

A Ukrainian flag on display at a house in the Westover neighborhood (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Date Set for Yellow Line Work — “Yellow Line Tunnel and Bridge Rehab, beginning Sept. 10, 2022: This work will require a shutdown between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations, closing the Yellow Line crossing of the Potomac River for seven to eight months.” [WMATA]

No APS Boundary Change Drama — “With Arlington’s student enrollment now projected to be considerably lower in coming years than once anticipated, School Board members this week are likely to call off a planned elementary-school-redistricting process that had been slated for the fall. ‘Small boundary adjustments’ may still be needed, but a countywide look at elementary-school-boundary switcheroos would be off the table.” [Sun Gazette]

Concern for Missing Arlington Woman — “The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance locating a missing Arlington woman. Lindsey… 38, was last seen on February 28 in the 4100 block of Fairfax Drive. Police and family are concerned for her health and welfare. [ACPD]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the morning and early afternoon. High of 48 and low of 38. Sunrise at 6:30 am and sunset at 6:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Metro’s Yellow Line, which runs through Crystal City and Pentagon City, could see major disruption next year due to needed repairs.

The proposed Yellow Line Bridge and tunnel rehabilitation project will include repairs to the bridge and the tunnels between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

WMATA’s project website said the bridge is now showing “excessive wear and corrosion,” while “decades of water infiltration and underground moisture have eroded the steel-lined tunnels.” Both the bridge and the tunnels “date to original construction [of the Metro system] more than 40 years ago.”

The transit agency warned that long-term repairs are necessary to avoid structural failure.

The project will also upgrade the fire suppression system on the bridge, which is currently past its useful life according to WMATA. Further remediation work in the tunnel will repair cracks.

Schedule of Metro station work, including Yellow Line shutdowns, photo via WMATA

The exact timeline for the project is still unclear. Andrew Off, Vice President of Project Implementation and Construction, said a shutdown of the bridge is expected sometime in fall 2022.

“We expect to start sometime at the end of the next calendar year,” Off said. “We’re still working through with our general contractor on the specific construction duration for the Yellow Line Bridge closure.”

Meanwhile, further south on the Yellow Line, Off said a two-week closure is likely as WMATA connects the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

“We’ll have a scheduled two-week or 16-day shutdown in late summer or early fall in support of connecting the new Potomac Yard infill station to our existing system,” Off said.

The station had been scheduled to open next spring but was pushed back to September 2022 after an error was found in the project’s design. Alexandria leaders are still hopeful the project could be moved up to earlier in the year.

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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.

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(Update 4:25 p.m.) Metro is fast-tracking repairs on the Yellow Line bridge and tunnels.

The transit agency is preparing for a major capital project to rehab the 3,000-foot-long Yellow Line bridge that crosses over the Potomac River, connecting D.C. to Arlington.

Upgrades will also be made to the fire suppression system on the bridge which is, as the release notes, “beyond its useful life.” Additionally, the steel-lined tunnels connecting the Pentagon Metro station to the bridge and the bridge to L’Enfant Plaza station will be repaired.

Both the bridge and tunnels date to Metro’s original construction more than 40 years ago.

“Metro is investing in an aggressive capital campaign to rehabilitate and repair elevated structures, and the Yellow Line Bridge is the top structural priority providing the region with a vital transportation link across the Potomac,” Metro’s Executive Vice President of Capital Program Delivery Laura K. Mason writes in the press release. “Advancing this project quickly is good for our customers, and will allow Metro to utilize this process on future projects to more quickly address critical safety needs of other elevated structures.”

In order to get this done quicker, Metro is hiring a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) to coordinate the design process, pricing, and construction concurrently, allowing the project to move quicker.

Proposals are due April 7. The bulk of the work will take place in 2022.

A Metro spokesperson tells ARLnow that without a CMAR, the project would have taken a year longer and been completed in December 2023. Construction is schedule to be wrapped up by the end of 2022, Metro confirms.

The project is part of Metro’s 10-year, $15 billion Capital Improvement Program. A Metro spokesperson was unable to provide the exact cost for this particular project.

Word of the upcoming project comes in the midst of a budget battle that could result in the closing of 22 stations come January 2022, including four stations in Arlington.

The bridge was first constructed in the 1970s. It’s supported by box-girder spans and piers which are showing excessive wear and corrosion. As for the tunnels, decades of water leakage and underground moisture have eroded the steel-lined tunnels.

Maintenance and leak mitigation is ongoing, but “long-term repairs are necessary now to avoid structural failure in the future,” reads the release.

The state of the Yellow Line Bridge and the tunnels has been a continued source of concern in recent years.

Speed restrictions were put in place several summers ago due to track conditions. The tunnels started leaking in 2017, forcing single-tracking. In 2018, the entire Yellow Line was shut down for several weeks for needed renovation work on the bridge.

And, in 2015, the Yellow Line tunnel between the bridge and L’Enfant Plaza station was the site of a deadly smoke incident that left one woman dead and dozens of commuters hospitalized.

Photo via Flickr/John Sonderman

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The Arlington Cemetery Metro station is “deteriorating” and Metro’s plan to fix it next year will cause some changes for commuters.

The platform reconstruction work is currently scheduled to take place from mid-February to May. During that time, those bound for D.C. and Maryland from the Pentagon and stations to the south will be served only by Yellow Line trains and the Yellow Line bridge.

The Arlington Cemetery station project is one of several capital projects Metro has planned for next year. More from WMATA:

Metro will rebuild deteriorating outdoor platforms at Arlington Cemetery, Addison Road, and four Green Line stations north of Fort Totten next year, continuing its robust capital program to keep the system safe and reliable for the next generation of riders. To date, Metro’s Platform Improvement Project has completed full platform replacements at 10 stations — six on the Blue and Yellow lines and four on the Orange Line. Construction activity is currently underway at Reagan National Airport Station marking the project’s halfway point, leaving nine stations to be completed in 2021 and 2022.

Arlington Cemetery and Addison Road stations will be closed for approximately three months for full platform replacement and station renovation. Silver Line trains will pass through the Addison Road construction site without stopping using a single track. Yellow Line trains will provide all trans-Potomac service for stations Pentagon and south.

“Metro will partner and work closely with local jurisdictions and transportation agencies to develop alternative travel options, including free shuttle buses and other mitigation plans,” Metro said. “Specific travel alternatives and rail service details will be announced in the coming months, along with public outreach to ensure awareness of the project.”

The Arlington Cemetery project is the only announced 2021 project affecting service in Arlington.

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Police are conducting a death investigation after a person died on a Yellow Line train Tuesday evening.

Arlington County medics were dispatched to the Pentagon Metro station around 4:15 p.m. for a report of a person suffering a medical emergency on a Yellow Line train bound for Huntington. The individual was found unresponsive and in cardiac arrest, and was declared dead shortly after medics arrived on scene, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli.

Metro Transit Police and officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency both responded to the Metro station with medics.

The incident prompted delays and single-tracking on the Blue and Yellow lines. The single-tracking ended shortly before 5 p.m.

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Declares Bankruptcy — “Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey, who was penalized Thursday for failing to disclose a campaign contribution to the Metro board in a timely manner, filed for bankruptcy last month after falling behind on his mortgage and accruing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt… he attributed his personal financial troubles to a drop in income since he was elected to the five-member Arlington board four years ago.” [Washington Post]

Metro Delays During AM Rush — “Blue/Yellow Line Delay: Single tracking btwn Braddock Rd & National Airport due to a signal problem outside Braddock Rd.” [Twitter]

Arlington Among Best Cities for Frugal Dating — Arlington is No. 17 on a new list of “the best cities in the country for budget-friendly dating.” [SmartAsset]

County Aiming for More Budget Feedback — “This week marks the beginning of the FY 2021 budget season, Arlington County’s process to decide how it will spend County dollars. From now through July 2020, you will have multiple opportunities to provide input and inform decisions about the County’s operating budget and capital budget.” [Arlington County]

County Football Teams May All Make Playoffs — “Depending on the outcome of final regular-season games on Nov. 8, there is a possibility that the Wakefield Warriors, Washington-Liberty Generals and Yorktown Patriots could all end up as district football champions. Wakefield (5-4, 4-0) and Yorktown (8-1, 4-0) are in sole possession of first place currently in the National and Liberty districts, respectively, and are guaranteed at least co-championships if they lose Nov. 8.” [InsideNova]

Yorktown Field Hockey in State Tourney — “It took a while, but when the stakes became the highest, that’s when the Yorktown Patriots started playing their best field hockey of the 2019 campaign, in what has become an historic season for the girls team… By reaching the region final for the first time in program history, Yorktown also earned a Virginia High School League Class 6 state-tournament berth, also for the first time.” [InsideNova]

DJO Runners Win State Title — “After not winning the state championship the past two seasons, the Bishop O’Connell Knights have returned to that throne this fall. The girls high-school cross country team won the 2019 Division I state private-school crown Nov. 7 in Mechanicsville by dominating the field with 46 points.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Potomac Yard Plan Takes Shape — “Just a few days after submitting plans for the Virginia Tech site near the North Potomac Yard Metro station, JBG Smith has submitted early concept designs for the development that will replace Target and the other Potomac Yard stores.” [ALXnow, Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Metro Removes 3000-Series from Service — “Metro overnight temporarily removed all 3000-series cars from service after we received a report of a door malfunction for which we need to identify the cause. This voluntary safety action reduces the number of available rail cars by ~15%” [Twitter, Twitter]

Courthouse Hotel May Become Apartments — “The owner of an Arlington hotel is now hoping to flip the building into residential space instead. The Arlington Court Suites Hotel in Courthouse could soon become a 180-unit apartment building dubbed ‘Park Arlington at Courthouse,’ according to plans filed with the county this week.” [Washington Business Journal]

More HQ2 Jobs Listed — There are now 18 open HQ2 jobs listed on Amazon’s website, with roles ranging from HR to sales to software engineer. Some of the jobs were reportedly first listed as working out of Amazon’s existing Ballston office, the long-term prospects for which are now in question. [Amazon, Washington Business Journal]

NPS’ Massive GW Parkway Backlog — “ABC7 asked the National Park Service how big the [GW Parkway’s] maintenance problem is. The… Parkway has a maintenance backlog of $717-million, but that includes 25 sites, such as Arlington House and Great Falls Park. $649-million of that amount is for paved roads. 33 million vehicles drive on the GW Parkway every year.” [WJLA, Twitter]

Va. Reps Call for Telework Option During ‘Summer Shutdown’ — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and other Northern Virginia representatives have written a letter to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, calling for federal employees to be given expanded telework options during the May 25-Sept. 8 “Summer Shutdown” of Metro stations in Alexandria. [House of Representatives]

Yellow Line Extension Starting This Weekend — “Metro today announced it will begin running all Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt more than a month earlier than expected – starting Saturday, May 25 – when the Platform Improvement Project begins at six Yellow and Blue line stations south of Reagan National Airport.” [PoPville]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

TMZ Gets Rosario Dawson Scoop at DCA — “Rosario Dawson’s all in on Cory Booker for President in 2020, but she might be a little biased … because she just confirmed with us … they’re in a serious, loving relationship!!! The actress was at the Reagan National Airport in D.C. Thursday when our guy quizzed her on what’s been widely rumored.” [TMZ]

Board OKs Queens Court Loans, Again — “The Arlington County Board today cleared the way for replacing a 39-unit garden style apartment complex in Rosslyn, built in 1940, with 249 units committed to remain affordable for 75 years. The Queens Court property, at the corner of N. Quinn Street and Key Boulevard, is part of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan adopted by the County Board in 2015.” [Arlington County]

Yellow Line to Be Extended — “Metro plans to extend service on the Yellow and Red lines. The Yellow Line will finally go past Mount Vernon Square during rush hour again, and even past Fort Totten, all the way to Greenbelt. This change would double service at rush hour and ‘address current crowding conditions at the nine stations north of Mount Vernon Square.'” [DCist]

Vigil for Murdered Arlington Man — “John Giandoni had a beautiful son, a loving family, and a great job. It was all ripped away one year ago… Friday night at 7:30 p.m., John’s family and friends are holding a candlelight vigil in Ballston on the first anniversary of his death.” [WJLA]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 25.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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