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Metro details upcoming rail project

The transit authority has a lot of maintenance to do on the aging Metrorail system, and "we're running out of weekends," said, Jim Hughes, one of Metro's top planners. We were standing on the mezzanine at Stadium-Armory Station, under a sign advising riders about upcoming track work that will disrupt service on the weekend of Nov. 5-7.

With the holidays coming and winter weather ahead, Metro is trying to pack as much maintenance as possible into the weekends it has available. Hughes provided more details today about the Nov. 5-7 work schedule, which will close five stations and almost nine miles of track on the eastern side of the rail system.

When Metro has a maintenance project that requires the system to shut down both tracks in a certain area for several days, the transit authority takes the opportunity to cram as much work as possible into that zone.The main goals of the Nov. 5-7 project are to install new track circuits outside Stadium-Armory and to make preliminary repairs to stabilize the ground, abutment and aerial structure outside the Cheverly Station.

In addition, workers will replace 4,290 feet of track, 680 insulators, 2,418 rail ties, 650 track fasteners, two track switches at New Carrollton Station and repair the platform at Minnesota Avenue Station. About 500 workers will be involved in the weekend's projects.

Impact on riders
Once again, it's a big project affecting the Blue and Orange lines, but the November project should not be as disruptive as the Columbus Day weekend work that split the lines in the middle of downtown D.C.

Some related work is scheduled for the last weekend of October, Halloween weekend, when Orange Line trains will share a track between Stadium-Armory and Cheverly, causing some delays. But the big impact on riders will occur the following weekend, from 10 p.m. Nov. 5 through the midnight closing Nov. 7.

From 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, through the midnight closing on Sunday, Nov. 7, Metro will close the Orange Line between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, and there will be no Blue Line service between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Benning Road Station will stay open.

Orange Line trains will operate between Vienna and Stadium-Armory. The Blue Line trains will be split in two. Trains will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory, and also between Largo Town Center and Benning Road.

Metro will operate free shuttle buses around the closed stations. But riders should add 40 minutes to their travel schedules if their trips take them through the November work zone.

Hughes said the trains should be back on their regular schedules when the system opens on Monday morning, Nov. 8, though the trains initially may move more slowly over a short stretch of track.

Tips for travelers
-- Pay attention to this plan if you have tickets to events over that weekend. The Capitals and Wizards will be playing at Verizon Center. The Greater Washington Heart Walk is scheduled for Nov. 6 at Nationals Park.
-- The free shuttle buses are helpful, but they don't really replace the trains. It takes several buses to hold as many people as a single rail car. Plus, there's the loading and unloading time, and the stop and go traffic. Many travelers may prefer to drive to another station, such as Greenbelt on the Green Line, and take the train from there.
-- Metro's Trip Planner, normally helpful in getting around, won't help you plan for any weekend when the lines are disrupted like this. Trip Planner goes by the normal schedule and doesn't adjust for disruptions.

By Robert Thomson  | October 27, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, metrorail delays  
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