Metro is aiming to avoid originally planned single-tracking when the six closed Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Reagan National Airport reopen in September, even if riders will still see construction zones.
“While we remain on track to resume service on Sept. 9, we must underline that we will continue to see work out there on these platforms,” said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.
Still, given the extra week Metro added onto the shutdown, Wiedefeld said Thursday that enough work could get done that Metro will be able to run near normal service on the Blue Line immediately when stations reopen, rather than the originally planned round-the-clock single tracking.
“We’re working not to do that, so we’ll see if we can hold to that,” Wiedefeld said after a Metro Board meeting.
The change could alleviate a significant challenge for Metro, which hopes to lure riders who have switched to other options back after the shutdown.
Shuttle buses are carrying an estimated 25,000 trips per day, and ridership has also increased on regular bus routes that serve as alternatives, Metro said, but traffic jams appear to have increased, as well with at least some people switching to driving alone.
“We’re halfway through. It is a very, very big project,” Wiedefeld said.
Besides concrete platform repairs, Metro has been doing track work, installing new nonslip tile in stations, adding digital train arrival signs similar to those tested at other stations, adding other digital ad displays and updated public address or emergency systems, and installing new lights and platform shelters with USB charging ports.
“You may have to walk around some barricades … but, by and large, the work will be done” by Sept. 9, Wiedefeld said.
Work could particularly continue at the end-of-line stations with trains only using one side of the platform or the other.
“Remember we have two more years of platform work, just want to make sure we keep reminding people of that, and we’re already starting that outreach on those ones for next year,” Wiedefeld said.
Platform-related shutdowns next summer are planned at the Greenbelt and College Park end of the Green Line in Maryland, and at the Vienna end of the Orange Line in Virginia.
Wiedefeld expects the shutdowns to cover a similar period as this year’s work, roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day.
He hopes to apply lessons learned on outreach and operations from this summer’s shutdown to those next year and beyond.