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Breaking: Silver Line Delay Disappointment

Friday - 2/21/2014, 9:43pm  ET

wiehle_escalotrkiss_msm.JPG
Escalator at the Wiehle-Reston Station on the new Silver Line, which when opened will shuttle riders through Northern Virginia's Dulles Corridor.
WASHINGTON-- Transit riders looking forward to the opening of the Silver Line in Tysons Corner and Reston will have to wait longer, as the project will face more delays and repairs.

Sources tell WTOP that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) will announce on Monday that it does not consider the Silver Line complete, citing issues with the automatic train control circuitry and other new issues. The contractor building the Silver Line told MWAA on Feb. 7 that it believed the project was complete. MWAA had 15 days to inspect the work and decide whether it agreed that the tracks could be turned over to Metro.

The automatic train control circuits and other electronic signal issues were behind a delay announced late last year that caused the project to be delayed into 2014. Originally, MWAA and Metro hoped the Silver Line would open to passengers in late December 2013, although WTOP reported last June that such a launch would not happen.

Circuit and signal issues are troubling because those components were cited as causes of the deadly 2009 Metro crash outside Ft. Totten, which killed nine people. Metro shut down automatic train operation afterwards and trains still run in manual mode, which is a subset of the automatic train control system.

Sources tell WTOP that MWAA's decision will delay the project at least three weeks, if not longer. Once MWAA does agree the project is complete, it will turn over the Silver Line to Metro for another 90 days of testing.

While no firm deadline is set for a grand opening, the delay means the Silver Line will not likely open until at least July 2014.

On Thursday, Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins told WTOP that she would be very disappointed if the Silver Line did not open before the end of the summer.

Metro loses about $2 million each month the Silver Line is not open.

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