Metro scrambles work schedules with early Cherry Blossom bloom

Get everything you need to know about visiting the Cherry Blossoms via WTOP’s Cherry Blossoms page.

WASHINGTON – Metro is juggling track work schedules due to the predicted early cherry blossom bloom, but there will still be major track work on the Blue and Yellow lines during the peak bloom period and other Cherry Blossom Festival events.

The National Park Service predicted Wednesday that peak bloom, when most of the flowers are open, will fall between Tuesday, March 14, and Friday, March 17, although that can still change based on the weather. The National Cherry Blossom Festival was originally scheduled to start March 20.

Metro has now cancelled a planned weekend shutdown of the Orange, Blue and Silver Line tracks downtown that had been scheduled for March 18-19, spokesman Richard Jordan said.

“In light of the peak bloom prediction … as well as the National Cherry Blossom Festival moving up the start date by five days, Metro has adjusted most track work that was scheduled for the weekend of March 18-19,” Jordan said in an email.

“However, the SafeTrack surges are planned months in advance and involve hundreds of workers scheduled around the clock. It is not possible to reschedule surges,” he said.

Metro previously said it would aim to avoid work during the festival, as usual, but scheduled round-the-clock work zones from this Saturday, March 4, to April 9 on the Blue and Yellow lines (the last week is scheduled to only affect the Yellow Line), and from April 15 to May 16 at the northern end of the Green Line between Greenbelt and College Park.

The Blue and Yellow line work significantly cuts service on both lines at all times of day and days of the week through April 1, and on the Yellow Line through April 9.

Jordan emphasized that other lines are scheduled to run normally. The Orange, Silver, Red and Green lines remain a “great option for most Cherry Blossom visitors.”

Metro’s long-range track work schedule, which is updated and changed relatively regularly, currently shows a weekend shutdown on March 18 of the northern end of the Green Line from College Park to Greenbelt, along with what has become regular weeknight single tracking on the Red Line to address water that gets into the tunnels and other issues.

This weekend

Metro is shutting down the Blue, Orange and Silver Line tracks between Smithsonian and Federal Center SW Saturday and Sunday. There are no Red Line trains between Silver Spring and Forest Glen. Metro said that’s tied to preparations for the Maryland Transit Administration’s planned Purple Line.

Shuttle buses will be available for both segments.

Outside of those segments, Orange Line trains are only scheduled every 24 minutes between Vienna and Smithsonian, and the Silver Line is only scheduled to run every 24 minutes only between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston. With the start of the weeks-long 24/7 work zone, Blue and Yellow Line trains are only scheduled every 24 minutes to and from stations in Virginia

The Orange and Blue lines are scheduled every 15 minutes each between Federal Center SW and New Carrollton.

The Red Line is scheduled every 15 minutes between Forest Glen and Glenmont, and every 10 minutes between Shady Grove and Silver Spring.

Monday is the first rush hour with the new round-the-clock work zone, so Blue and Yellow Line riders need to carefully consider other options. Based on the impact of past surges, the work could also increase traffic on roads such as Route 1, the George Washington Parkway and Interstate 395 if riders choose to drive instead of taking a train, bike or bus.

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