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Another holiday weekend disruption

Metro has announced plans for a Columbus Day weekend maintenance project that will close two downtown rail stations and suspend service on the Blue and Orange lines at Metro Center.

The shutdown is the latest in a string of holiday weekend maintenance projects during which Metro has tackled big jobs that can't be done efficiently as a string of overnight or weekend closings. During Labor Day weekend, Metro conducted its biggest such operation, shutting five stations on the Red Line. The Columbus Day work will affect fewer stations, but means that two rail lines will be temporarily severed.

The disruption will last from 10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 8, to the midnight closing on Monday, Oct. 11. Metro will bridge the gap between stations with free shuttle buses, but this is going to add at least 40 minutes to riders' travel time, the transit authority predicts.

Switch replacements
As is typical during these long weekend projects, the work involves replacement of rail switches. In this case, four switches will be rebuilt. That's the entire rail interlocking system at McPherson Square, as recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, Metro says. At the same time, workers will be doing several other maintenance projects along that section of track, taking advantage of the shutdown.

Service details
Blue Line trains will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Foggy Bottom, and between Largo Town Center and Federal Triangle. Orange Line trains will operate between Vienna and Foggy Bottom, and between New Carrollton and Federal Triangle.

Metro says it will release more information about the bus bridges in the next few weeks. (Here again, Metro is following a pattern it has developed over the recent holiday closings, making a preliminary announcement, followed by more details as the event draws nearer. During a holiday disruption last year, many riders complained that they had short notice, or no notice, about the track work.)

By Columbus Day weekend, the baseball season will be over, but there will be several other events that typically draw extra crowds on Metrorail: On Sunday, Oct. 10 11, the Redskins will play at FedEx Field at 1 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 9, and Monday, Oct. 11, the Capitals will play at Verizon Center at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 9, DC United will play at RFK Stadium at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Oct. 10, there is a concert at the Verizon Center at 8 p.m. Anyone planning to attend those events via the Blue or Orange lines should take this track work schedule into account.

By Robert Thomson  | September 8, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
Categories:  Blue Line, Metro, Orange Line  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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Next: Headaches on the horizon

Comments

"On Sunday, Oct. 11, the Redskins will play at FedEx Field at 1 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 9, and Monday, Oct. 11, the Capitals will play at Verizon Center at 7 p.m."

Shouldn't this be "On Sunday, Oct. 10th, the Redkins will play..."

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | September 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Whoops... Redkins=Redskins

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | September 8, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

cuz that's less racist

Posted by: jiji1 | September 8, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I'll add one very very important thing that metro neglected. Aside from all of the federal workers most of us will have to work on that Monday. This particular shut down is a HUGE inconvenience. You can't even make a simple walking transfer between the Farragut stations as the Blue and Orange lines won't be running. Guess I'll be driving that day...thanks Metro!

Posted by: Razor04 | September 8, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Ordinarily (as someone who needs to take the Orange Line to transfer to Metro Center to get to the red) I'd be completely hosed, because we're open on Columbus Day.

Luckily, I'll be off-site on business travel for the start of that week anyway.

Posted by: EtoilePB | September 8, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Razor04 brings up a good point. Labor Day is a much more recognized holiday than Columbus Day. Will the other lines run trains on a normal weekday schedule? Will extra trains go through the Red Line stations near the closed Blue and Orange Line stations to accommodate extra people at Dupont, Farragut North, and Metro Center?

On the positive side, the closed Metro stations are relatively close to each other and able-bodied people can walk without worrying about buses.

Posted by: DOEJN | September 8, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Normally with the federal workers off, Columbus Day is one day on which the drive in for everyone else is quite easy. WMATA's track work will no doubt cause a lot more people to drive than might be the case in other years, and that poses one HUGE potential problem: A lot of regular commuters go on autopilot and forget that the reversible lanes on streets like Canal Road and Connecticut Avenue are NOT reversed on holidays like Columbus Day or Veterans Day, even though many (perhaps most) private-sector businesses are not closed. I'm always surprised there haven't been more head-on collisions on Canal Road, in particular, on holidays because a lot of people just assume the one-way traffic pattern is in effect. If more people are driving on Columbus Day this year, it poses that much more of a danger to the people who don't pay attention.

At least Metrorail users will have a bypass within the system for once, unlike with previous switch replacement projects, because they can ride down to the Pentagon and change to the Yellow Line over the Potomac, then pick up the Orange and Blue again at L'Enfant Plaza or continue on to Gallery Place. It wouldn't be necessary to rely on bus bridges or to walk across town. (I've walked from Washington Circle to the Verizon Center in the past and it's a rather easy and pleasant walk if the weather is nice. I know not everyone can do that, of course.) But no doubt WMATA will refuse to run trains at the proper intervals, instead opting for some sort of super-reduced "holiday schedule," which would mean it would take a very long time to detour around via the Pentagon.

BTW, Dr. G, thanks for getting the name of the soccer team correct. I've seen other news reports about this project in which reporters have said "the DC United" would be playing. I'm not sure why they think the article "the" belongs there.

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 8, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

I think commuters like Razor04 can afford to drive to work one day, or take extra time for a longer commute on one day, so Metro can implement much needed maintenance.

Remember how NTSB said they were surprised a major accident didn't happen until last year? Metro customers should be willing to take a day of added travel time to make sure Metro is safe.

Posted by: j_scott | September 9, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

j_scott you are indeed correct that I can afford to drive to work one day. That isn't the point I was trying to make. I was pointing out how once again WMATA has neglected to think things through.

Work in the core of the system would best be done on a holiday weekend that almost everyone has off. I agree wholeheartedly that the work needs to be done I just wish that they gave some thought to the people using the system.

Posted by: Razor04 | September 9, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

This ranks right up there with Metro's illfated decision to operate 2-car trains at night. In other words, it's one of the single worst decisions they have ever made.

As has been pointed out, Columbus Day is a NORMAL workday for many many people, many more than Labor Day, Memorial Day, etc. when they have similarly shut stations entirely. But this is one is in the urban core, affecting some of the system's busiest stations, including a major transfer station.

This decision is breathtakingly irresponsible. And just further evidence of how completely out of touch WMATA management is with the needs of its customers.

I hope the Metro Board will reverse this inconceivable decision. WHile they're at it, they might reverse the contracts of whomever made them.

Posted by: nashpaul | September 9, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"At least Metrorail users will have a bypass within the system for once, unlike with previous switch replacement projects, because they can ride down to the Pentagon and change to the Yellow Line over the Potomac, then pick up the Orange and Blue again at L'Enfant Plaza or continue on to Gallery Place."

I suspect taking the bus bridges will be faster than this detour, but this is a good option to have. I took the bus bridge last weekend between Glenmont and Silver Spring and I was impressed with how organized things were. Of course it took longer than the train, but the shuttle buses were running very frequently so there wasn't much of a wait to get a shuttle. I waited 4 minutes for the shuttle to leave from the time I got on the shuttle at Glenmont and didn't wait at all at Silver Spring on the return trip. Based on how many shuttles I saw, I would say they were running about 5 minutes apart. That's less waiting time than for the trains on the weekend. Took 20 minutes to reach my destination, rather than the usual 10 on the train. Overall, not bad. I also saw lots of metro employees at each station to assist customers, about 6 at Glenmont, Wheaton, and Forest Glen and probably atleast 10 at Silver Spring.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | September 9, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

UMDTerpsGirl, I have to agree, I had to use the shuttles several times over the weekend and Metro did a good job. I never had to wait more than a couple minutes, and often there was one right there. I only needed to take the shuttle to one stop, so it was quicker for me than, say, someone going from Glenmont to Fort Totten with the shuttle stopping at all Metro stops in between.

Posted by: DOEJN | September 9, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Just for old times sake, FIRE CATOE!!!!!

Posted by: Axel2 | September 9, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

This article announces that two Metro stations will be closed on Columbus Day weekend, but never says WHICH stations.
Great reporting, huh?

Posted by: tommyhall | September 10, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Farragut West and McPherson Square. I was able to surmise that from the description of where trains *would* be running, but granted, people unfamiliar with the system wouldn't know that.

Posted by: DOEJN | September 10, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@tommyhall, Metro Center also won't have any Orange/Blue Line service (but will serve the Red Line).

Posted by: nashpaul | September 10, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@tommyhall, Metro Center also won't have any Orange/Blue Line service (but will serve the Red Line).

Posted by: nashpaul | September 10, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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