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Silver Line extension work closes Wiehle-Reston East this weekend

Work to link up the Silver Line extension to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County with the current stretch of tracks that opened in 2014 will shut down the Wiehle-Reston East station this weekend.

The six station, approximately 11-mile extension is expected to open in 2020 after everything is linked up, construction is completed on other parts of the line, and extensive testing and training are done.

The linking up of the first and second phases is expected to be done over the next couple of months, with testing work continuing later. Another closure of the Wiehle-Reston East station is scheduled on July 13 and July 14.

Overall construction is now expected to be completed around April 2020, which would still allow for rail service to Dulles and Ashburn in summer 2020.

“You didn’t worry enough,” Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority board member Kate Hanley told the lead contractor for the project on May 15.

Contractors building the project for the Airports Authority, which will then turn the line over to Metro, have had a number of problems with concrete used in construction, but most of those issues have been resolved or are expected to have resolutions soon.

One of the most concerning recent issues for Metro had been reports that many concrete rail ties at locations where trains switch from one track to another were not properly manufactured.

A follow-up investigation found that the ties were mostly fine, just improperly installed, Airports Authority Vice President Charles Stark told Fairfax County Supervisors on May 14.

“We don’t expect that the contractor will have to remove hundreds and hundreds of ties. We think on the project it may be 25 to 30 ties that are out of dimension sufficiently to cause a problem,” Stark said.

That would mean much less of a schedule issue than project leaders initially worried about, even though the ties in place now must be properly leveled.

Stark blamed “rather crude measurements” by the contractor for the initial concern, which has been allayed by follow-up checks by Airports Authority consultants.

Repair work or plans are already underway for separate issues with concrete framing panels at stations and concrete walls in the railyard near Dulles.

The station framing panels that had improperly mixed concrete are being sprayed with special sealant meant to keep salty road spray from causing corrosion, while the rail yard panels cracking due to an initial building design flaw are expected to get a thicker protective coating that is more like paint.

In the meantime, other work continues at the new stations.

The rail project essentially has a two-year warranty for Metro from the time it goes into service, with an extended warranty covering station escalators.

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