WASHINGTON — Red Line riders will face more weeknight single-tracking and weekend shutdowns now that Metro has expanded efforts to seal persistent tunnel leaks that have been tied to smoke incidents and the decay of track infrastructure.
The new expansion of the grout sealing to include 4,000 feet of the inbound track between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Medical Center is scheduled to begin Oct. 16 and continue through Thanksgiving. Initial work on about 2,000 feet of track between Bethesda and Medical Center has already led to single-tracking and a series of shutdowns since July.
“It’s much easier to remobilize now, with [the contractors] here. … It gives us a little bit more data to look at to see how it works, and actually they’ll be doing it under different conditions than when they did it in the summer, so there’s a lot of good things to look at with that, and then we’ll have to make a larger assessment,” General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said.
Metro exercised an option as part of its initial contract to expand the work to cover the new stretch of track. Wiedefeld pointed out though that even with the additional tunnel segment getting the sealant, Metro will only have addressed a very small portion of the tunnels between Dupont Circle and Grosvenor-Strathmore. Those tunnels were built without a waterproof seal, but face consistent pressure from groundwater.
The new phase of work will require single-tracking after 9 p.m. each weeknight between Medical Center and Grosvenor-Strathmore from Oct. 16 through Nov. 24.
On weekends, trains will single-track through the area on Oct. 21-22 and Nov. 11-12.
There will be a complete shutdown between Medical Center and Grosvenor-Strathmore on the weekends of Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 18-19.
Other track work is planned the weekend of Nov. 4-5, which will lead to single-tracking between Medical Center and Twinbrook.
Buses stall in service
After a Metrobus stalled while carrying passengers on Interstate 395 Monday, Metro has pulled all 105 buses of its type from service.
While Wiedefeld said there were only minor injuries in two incidents where the buses stalled while in service, the removal of the North American Bus Industries hybrid buses from 2014 is out of an abundance of caution until the cause of the stalls becomes clear.
In Monday’s incident, the Route 21D bus ended up hitting a barrier on I-395 in Alexandria, causing some traffic issues. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the other incident was on Route P18 Thursday morning. The P18 runs between Fort Washington and the Southern Avenue Metro.
Metro has reserve buses in its fleet that are being used while the 105 buses are being checked, so all routes still have regularly scheduled service.