WTOP track work guide: 8th Surge Aug. 27 to Sept. 11

WASHINGTON — Riders who use the Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations feel the brunt of the next round-the-clock Metro work zone.

Although Metro lists the work zone as beginning Sat. Aug. 27, the single-tracking begins Mon. Aug. 29.

This work zone was delayed a week due to safety fixes needed on a crossover where trains move from one track to another that will get heavy use during the single-tracking.

That work will require a series of complete weekend shutdowns over the course of this work.

It was a crumbling crossover at the edge of a single-tracking zone on the Orange and Silver Line tracks last month where rails moved too far apart, leading to a derailment.

The weekday work

On weekdays from Aug. 29 through Sept. 9, there will be no Yellow Line “rush-plus” trains at Franconia-Springfield or Van Dorn Street, and there will only be half as many Blue Line trains as usually scheduled at Franconia-Springfield.

Trains that do run to and from Franconia-Springfield will share a single track around the clock. At rush hour, they will be scheduled to run every 24 minutes.

Metro plans to run Blue Line trains to and from Van Dorn Street every 12 minutes as usual, but there will still be half as many trains there as usual at rush hour due to the shift of Yellow Line trains to Huntington.

Rush-hour riders at Huntington will see more trains than usual, and Metro is planning to have near-normal service at all other stations.

The weekend shutdowns

Special inspections since the July derailment of a Silver Line train near East Falls Church have uncovered a lack of inspections and maintenance and a need for urgent repairs on a series of interlockings, also known as crossovers, where trains can move from one track to another.

Since that work requires complete shutdowns of stretches of tracks, Metro has added a series of weekend shutdowns through at least mid-October.

In this work zone, the shutdowns are:

  • Aug. 27-28: Franconia-Springfield Station closed Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle buses to and from trains at Van Dorn Street. (Note: The Yellow Line is also shut down on Sunday Aug. 28 into the early afternoon for an emergency response drill on the bridge over the Potomac. Until the drill is complete, Yellow Line trains will only run between Huntington and Reagan National Airport. There is also single-tracking on the Red Line all weekend.)
  • Sept. 3-5, Labor Day weekend: Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Shuttle buses to and from trains at Eisenhower Ave. (Note: There is an additional Blue, Orange and Silver Line shutdown scheduled Labor Day weekend between Stadium-Armory and Minnesota Ave./Benning Road, as well as single-tracking on the Red, Yellow and Green Lines)
  • Sept. 10-11: Franconia-Springfield Station closed Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle buses to and from trains at Van Dorn Street (Note: Additional single-tracking is scheduled to impact other lines)

The workarounds

Metro riders who typically use Franconia-Springfield have several alternative options, including driving to the Huntington Metro Station, using Virginia Railway Express, or taking special shuttles and other bus options.

Shuttles and other bus options

Metro will run free express shuttle buses every six minutes between Franconia-Springfield and the Pentagon at rush hour.

The buses will run to the Pentagon between: 40 a.m. to 8:35 a.m., and from the Pentagon between 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Fairfax Connector will add extra buses on its express bus between the Saratoga Park-and-Ride, Backlink Park & Ride and the Pentagon in additional to regular rush hour service on routes 393 and 394.

Riders could also choose to take the Fairfax Connector Route 310 between Franconia-Springfield and Huntington, or Route 401 to Dunn Loring and Tysons Corner. Other Metrobus routes also connect Van Dorn Street to Ballston (the 25B route) and other areas.

At Van Dorn Street, riders only going to King Street or Eisenhower Ave. might want to consider the DASH AT7. The DASH AT5 goes to Braddock Road as well.

For commuters from Prince William County, the Potomac and Rappahanock Transportation Commision (PRTC) will make some minor schedule adjustments.

An additional Prince William Metro Direct bus will run at 9 a.m. on weekdays from the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station to the PRTC Transit Center.

The last trips of the night will also depart slightly later, as will the 7:45 p.m. trip.

Other options include OmniRide commuter buses or Virginia Railway Express.

VRE

During the last work zones that had a big impact at Franconia-Springfield, Virginia Railway Express saw a spike in riders drawn to the scheduled departures and a way around the work-zone delays.

The commuter railroad runs mainly toward Alexandria, Arlington and D.C. in the morning, and back out in the afternoon.

From our previous surge guide:

Virginia Railway Express trains stop at Franconia-Springfield, Alexandria (King St.), Crystal City, L’Enfant Plaza and Union Station.

As we noted during the last track work period, the one-way fare between Franconia-Springfield and either of the D.C. stations is $7.40; however, commuters who commit to a five-day pass can get a discount — $58.80 for that trip. Between Franconia-Springfield and Alexandria or Arlington the fare is $6.75 one-way or $53.20 for five days.

VRE tickets must be validated before boarding the train. Check schedules closely, because the last trains depart D.C. before 7 p.m.

Trying another Metro station

Riders who typically drive to Franconia-Springfield who want to continue taking Metro should consider using Huntington rather than Van Dorn Street. There are typically hundreds of parking spaces available on a morning without track work at Huntington, while the Van Dorn Street lot can fill up.

Commuters who live relatively close to the Franconia-Springfield Station might also consider biking to Van Dorn Street where trains will be running more frequently. One frequent bike commuter Robert Svercl posted his own ride on YouTube.

The City of Alexandria provides this summary of the work, including parking locations and prices near Huntington and Eisenhower Ave.

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