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Huge Labor Day project on Red Line

Metro has released more details about a track work project that will have a huge impact on Red Line service over the entire Labor Day weekend. Metro plans to do several projects along the tracks. To clear room for the work, five stations will be closed in what amounts to the biggest maintenance shutdown in Metro's history.

Here are more details, but my best travel tip is this: On Labor Day weekend, you don't want to be near the eastern side of the Red Line when the stations from Glenmont through Takoma will be closed. Metro will follow its usual procedure of setting up bus bridges to connect those stations, but that will greatly lengthen your trip time.

Closing schedule
From 10 p.m. Sept. 3, till the midnight closing on Sept. 6, The Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, Silver Spring and Takoma stations will be closed. The first open station will be Fort Totten, which also is a transfer station to the Green and Yellow lines. The stations will reopen at 5 a.m. Sept. 7.

Bus bridges
Metro plans to operate free shuttle buses between Fort Totten and Glenmont. The transit authority advises riders to add 40 minutes to their normal travel times through that area. But if you recall the bus bridges that operated in that area after the Red Line crash, you remember that the buses are necessarily slow, because they are often on neighborhood streets, with plenty of traffic, stop signs and signal lights.

Metro still is working out the details on exactly how the shuttle system will operate.

Regular Metrobuses
The transit authority also recommends these regular Metrobus routes as alternatives.
-- C8 (College Park-White Flint) line, which serves the Glenmont Station.
-- J2 (Bethesda-Silver Spring) line, which serves the Silver Spring, Bethesda and Medical Center stations.
-- Q1, 2, 4, 6 (Veirs Mill Road) line, which serves the Shady Grove, Rockville, Wheaton, Forest Glen and Silver Spring Metrorail stations.

Other alternatives
Some weekend travelers heading for downtown Washington may find it convenient to park at the public garages in Silver Spring and board either the S buses that run along 16th Street NW or the 70s buses that travel along Georgia Avenue.

Others might simply head for other rail stations. For example, the Greenbelt Station, just off the Capital Beltway at the end of the Green Line, has a big parking lot. Some travelers may be closer to the parking garages in Bethesda or Grosvenor, where they can catch the other side of the Red Line for downtown. Parking at Metro lots and garages is free on weekends. (Just make sure it's a Metro-operated facility.)

Why the holiday weekend?

Metro has set a pattern of doing major track work on the long holiday weekends when ridership is down. It's a lot more efficient and less costly than trying to do these things on consecutive weekends or as a long string of overnight jobs, when crews would spend a lot of their time just setting up and taking down the work zones.

The Labor Day weekend project will involve 500 workers doing several projects, some of them related to the National Transportation Safety Board recommendations following the June 2009 Red Line crash.

Track workers will replace two old track switches at Silver Spring, install 750 new track fasteners, 1,720 new cross-ties, 525 feet of new track, 500 new rail insulators, new heater tape, new tunnel safety lights and new communications cables that will upgrade underground cell phone service.

By Robert Thomson  | August 3, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Red Line, Weekend Work  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Next: Metro contests safety violations


Interesting thought: WMATA is claiming a fiscal shortfall, but here it is performing a major rehab project on not only a weekend, but also a holiday weekend. Conceptually, doesn't paying premium pay and then premium + holiday pay when you are broke seem a bit wrongheaded?

No doubt they have let too much wait too long, so they have too much to do now; but, to spend like this and then hit the fare paying public with the costs is really not good business.

Having lived through deferred maintenance situations when I worked for the railroads, I have a good sense of what the workers will be attempting to do. I only wonder if they may not have bitten off too big a project.

Posted by: jimmy_mac | August 3, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Simple logic: by doing it over an established holiday, they can do three days of work-in-total instead of two, which probably saves grief in the long run.

Posted by: DragonofAnger | August 3, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

@jimmy_mac this is funded out of wmata's capital budget, not the operating budget and i rather wmata do this sort of work over a holiday weekend since its a longer weekend and less people than during during the usually weekend which would take more time and money and effect more people

Posted by: JeroRobson1 | August 3, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'd add that it shortens the time by something like a factor of 3 or 4. I believe in the past they said that for switch replacements it was the difference between shutting down a station or single tracking for four weekends versus one weekend. In a case like that it has to save money and inconvenience fewer numbers of people.

Posted by: Razor04 | August 3, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Why don't they wait until closing on that Friday? Let people come back from a Friday night in the district.

Posted by: ianswank | August 3, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

WMATA has the gaul to claim one reason for the shutdown is to comply with NTSB recommendations.

But the #1 issue on NTSB's list, replacing the proven-bad Alstrom track modules {and WeeZ bonds}, is not even mentioned!

Posted by: j_oper | August 3, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Also, does anyone know the reason why Metro trains slow to a crawl between RI Ave. and Brookland in both directions?

Posted by: ianswank | August 3, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

When will WMATA hit up the riders for a 500% fare increase so the underground subway stations can once again have air conditioning? And how many months will the stations be closed to actually conduct those repairs?

Posted by: glazer68 | August 3, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Ugh not looking forward to this, maybe I'll try to go out of town that weekend now.

Here are some alternate Ride-On buses, since only Metro Buses were listed and the C8 doesn't run on Sundays:

Ride-On #10 Hillandale-Glenmont-Twinbrook
Ride-On #26 Glenmont-Twinbrook-White Flint-Montgomery Mall
Ride-On #49 Glenmont-Rockville
Ride-On #34 Wheaton-Bethesda-Friendship Heights
Ride-On #38 Wheaton-White Flint-Montgomery Mall
Ride-On #48 Wheaton-Rockville
Ride-On #5 Silver Spring-White Flint-Twinbrook

Posted by: lagriesbauer | August 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh also, for getting between Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen and Silver Spring by bus (if you want to avoid the shuttle buses) try the Y buses (Y5, Y7, Y8, Y9). They run up and down Georgia Ave. pretty frequently and run late as well.

Posted by: lagriesbauer | August 3, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

hopefully nobody was gonna take metro red line then transfer for the VT-Boise game at Fedex Field

Posted by: m1ke3i6 | August 3, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the heads-up. I see that the recommended alternatives mention four of the five closed stations (Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, and Silver Spring). Any alternatives for Takoma?

Posted by: DOEJN | August 3, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't doing repairs run contrary to their standard operating procedures? ... ;-)

Posted by: RUListening2Urself | August 3, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Metro still is working out details about alternative transit during the closing. There will be more information about options. The transit authority people wanted to give us an early heads up about the disruption so we could start spreading the word.

Posted by: Dr_Gridlock | August 4, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Dr. G, do you know if WMATA will suspend all other track work on the redline for that weekend? Can you make this suggestion? If people are traveling cross county to reach the west side of the redline to avoid this mess, it would be nice to not also have the headache of waiting 30 minutes for a train.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | August 4, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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