Metro responds to criticism of shutdown plans for Blue, Yellow lines

WASHINGTON — Metro leaders are responding to criticism following its announcement that a busy section of the system will be shut down next summer for repairs.

“It is a result of 15, 20, 25 years of neglect,” said Metro Board Chair Jack Evans.

After the transit agency announced the shutdown of the Blue and Yellow lines south of Reagan National Airport, some local leaders said the move came as a surprise to them. Evans said it should not have come as a surprise, since he said last year that more big Metro projects would come after the scheduled track work surge, dubbed Safe Track, was completed last year.

“For people to now say they are unaware of it is surprising, but not unusual,” Evans said.

The work next summer will begin on Memorial Day and end on Labor Day, which translates to 98 days of no-service for people who used the trains to get in and out of Alexandria, Virginia.

“We will work with all the jurisdictions to try and make this easier, but it is not going to be easy,” Evans said.

Not everyone on Metro’s board, was on board with how the announcement was made. Michael Goldman, who represents Maryland on the board said riders need to know what their options will be during the shutdown.

“I’m just struck by the real lack of a mitigation plan for the riders, which is announced at the same time,” Goldman said.

He recommended that Metro by year’s end come out with a plan to help riders navigate the down section of the lines. He also encouraged incentives for riders, such as free parking at Metro stations affected by the shutdown.

Evans said the transit agency has all options on the table including looking into express buses and ride-sharing alternatives for affected riders.

Right now Evans said the goal is making sure riders know the shutdown is coming in 14 months.

Evans said everyone should be aware that other portions of the system could see similar projects in the future.

“We’re coming, this whole system has to be rebuilt, so we will get to everybody at some point in time. That’s the reality of this situation,” Evans said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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