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Silver Line slated for late July opening?

Friday - 6/13/2014, 4:41am  ET

WASHINGTON -- As Metro runs tests on the Silver Line, service could begin in late July or early August.

The fluid timeline is based on conversations between Metro Deputy General Manager Robert Troup and ATU Local 689 Union President Jackie Jeter. Troup has told Jeter to plan for union workers to begin simulated service July 20. The union represents all train operators necessary to run the Silver Line.

"[Jeter]'s union workers should expect to show up when they're told to show up," says Metro General Manager Richard Sarles.

But when asked whether Sarles' second-in-command mentioned July 20 to Jeter, Sarles didn't say.

"I can't tell you that. I haven't been in those discussions," he answered.

Jeter and Troup talk to each other multiple times per week.

"We are making a work selection in anticipation of the simulated service beginning July 20," Jeter says.

"If that changes for any reason, they will let us know. ... That's what Rob Troup and I discussed, and thus far it's on schedule for us to do that."

Sarles told reporters that multiple planning dates have been floated, but wouldn't say whether July 20 was one of them.

"We want the Silver Line to be safe and we want it to be reliable for our customers. To publicly impose a specific date would be contrary to that objective," Sarles says.

He did say that when simulated service begins, it would last one week, then could be followed up with a grand opening -- barring any problems during the dry run, that is.

The Metro Finance Committee voted unanimously Thursday to let Sarles set an opening date for the Silver Line without board approval.

"Does this indicate, by the board delegating this authority to me, that we're in the home stretch? The answer to that is yes," Sarles says.

But when board member Thomas Bulger asked, "When will be the ribbon cutting?," Sarles joked, "I can definitely tell you it'll be when we start revenue service."

The July 20 date was first reported by WAMU.

If the date holds, service might begin in late July or early August. Barring any major setback, Metro will open the Silver Line for passengers before Aug. 27.

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