Metro to take over the Silver Line in May

WASHINGTON – Metro says it will take over the oft-delayed Silver Line this month to begin 90 days of testing, training and final approvals.

The major extension of the Metro system into Northern Virginia could still open this summer, Metro officials say.

General Manager Richard Sarles says the target handover date is May 27. But if contractors finish their work quickly, Metro could take control of the rail line sooner.

“We’re down to less than a handful of items, if you will. The only things remaining have to do with the station speakers, track gauge and the instillation of a protective guard at some escalators. Some of this is just documentation and a little bit of field work. So we’re nearly there. We expect those particular items to be finished up very shortly,” Sarles says.

Officials had previously said the rail line could open around July 4. But construction delays have continued to push back the opening date.

Once Metro takes over the rail line, trains will continue to run between the stations and maintenance crews will begin routine work on the line. Workers and emergency responders will also train how to respond to an emergency along the new line. And eventually Metro will run a simulated schedule, minus passengers, Sarles says.

Both the Tri-State Oversight Committee and the Federal Transit Administration must sign off on the project before riders could ever begin boarding trains.

The remaining training, testing and inspections could last through July or August.

The Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority is overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion rail line, which will eventually connect with Dulles International Airport.

Problems have dogged the project during the past six months. Contractors installed the wrong speakers. Other problems were found with the automatic train control circuits and other electronic signal issues. And more recently, a signal where the new line meets the Orange Line was telling operators that a train was approaching when no trains were on the line.

The original opening was set for 2013.

The Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority is overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion rail line, which will eventually connect with Dulles International Airport.

WTOP’s Michelle Murillo and Amanda Iacone contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.


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