Summerlong closure on Metro is finally over

Riders wait for a Metro train at the Braddock Road Metro Station on Sept. 9, 2019, the first day six Virginia Metro stations reopened after a summer closure. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

A 100-day-long shutdown on Metrorail south of Reagan National Airport came to an end Monday, as six Virginia stations reopened offering commuters completely rebuilt platforms.

Six Blue and Yellow line stations had been closed since late May, with a network of shuttle buses that initially proved a shock for some commuters as they replaced service between Braddock Road, King Street-Old Town, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn and Franconia-Springfield.

“We look forward to welcoming our Northern Virginia customers back to the rails,” said Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld.

Data suggests the shutdown drove more than 10% of Virginia riders off Metrorail, with Metrobus seeing a small surge.

Metro officials said the rebuilt platforms are safer and more convenient for the estimated 17,000 riders who use that portion of the rail system every day.

Station improvements include slip-resistant tiles on platforms and in the mezzanine areas, stainless-steel platform shelters with charging ports, additional passenger information display screens and improved speakers for clearer public announcements and emergency notifications.

“We are incredibly thankful to our customers, residents and nearby businesses for their understanding this summer,” Wiedefeld said, calling it the “largest and most complex capital project since Metro’s original construction.”

According to Metro officials, closing the six stations completely and giving workers round-the-clock access allowed the project to impact only one summer, rather than stretching for years with single tracking and weekend shutdowns.

Metro will stop running shuttle buses from the reopened stations. However, a number of shuttles will remain on standby in case there is a disruption. Some DASH bus and Virginia Railway Express shutdown-related offers will continue for eligible riders.

While all heavy construction activity has been completed, riders will still be affected by some ongoing work.

For example, customers will board all trains from just one side of the platform at the Franconia-Springfield and Huntington stations, and fare vending machines will not be available for about three weeks at Huntington’s north entrance.

The summer closure was part of a multiphase initiative to rebuild outdoor platforms on the rail system. For its next phase, Metro is finalizing plans for an eight-station shutdown along the Orange and Green lines in summer 2020.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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