The long anticipated Metro “safety surge” is finally here, and with it comes a series of closures that will drastically affect the use of public transportation in the city. This year-long project will cause certain stretches of rail lines to be closed for days, slower trains, and a reduction in late night services. There will be five planned shutdowns. According to the Washington Post, the longest planned shutdown will be on the Red Line between NoMa-Gallaudet and Fort Totten stations for 24 days starting October 9.
The repair project, called “SafeTrack,” includes 15 different groups of repairs, which will begin in June. The Metro will be shut down at 12 a.m. rather than 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, starting June 3. According to the Washington Post, along with the shutdowns, ten of the projects will include closing one track for elongated periods of time, a range of one week to six weeks. While these tracks are closed, trains will need to single track for their lines, causing commuters to wait even longer for their trains. The last period of single-tracking is set for January 2 to January 26, from Braddock Road to Huntington on the Yellow Line, and Van Dorn on the Blue Line.
Many officials have weighed in on the issue, including President Obama. Earlier in the week he said, “The D.C. Metro has historically been a great strength of this region, but over time we have under-invested in maintenance and repairs.” Concern has also been expressed about the hefty price tag these repairs have. General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said to the Washington Post on May 6, “I don’t have a number on that yet,” but did say that money for the work is already in the Metro’s long-term capital-improvement budget. The funds will be moved from future years to the current year to pay for the maintenance costs.
One of the largest problems these train shut downs will cause is a lapse in transportation to and from school for students. According to the Washington Post, about 75 percent of DC students attend schools outside their neighborhoods. With the current closure dates as August 20 through September 6, getting to school for the first weeks of the new year will be an incredible inconvenience for students. For Wilson students especially, this will mean finding new ways to get to and from school.
Metro hopes to accomplish all of these repairs in one year, which would take about three years under normal circumstances, allowing the system to remain safe and primed for the future.
(For a complete list of the Metro shut down schedule, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/local/metro-closures/?%3Ftid%3D=sm_pg)
PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA