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Major Rehab at Metro Center

Repairs to the Red Line bridge over the Blue and Orange lines at Metro Center will limit service this holiday weekend at one of the transit system's most important hubs.

The Red Line bridge at Metro Center is sagging, so the transit authority is going to replace the bearing pads that support the bridge. Also, crews will replace the granite platform and ceiling tiles, and repair expansion joints and structural concrete.

While the tracks and platforms are safe, Metro says, the work needs to be done. But the $1.3 million job at a crucial downtown junction of three rail lines is bound to be disruptive, so Metro is planning to do the work on two three-day holiday weekends: Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President's Day weekends.

The station will remain open during the work. However, Metro recommends building an extra 30 minutes into your travel times on the Red, Blue and Orange lines during these time periods:
-- 10 p.m. this Friday to midnight Monday.
-- 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, to midnight Monday, Feb. 18.

Here's some line by line information.

Red Line

-- During most of the day, Red Line trains will depart the Shady Grove and Glenmont every nine minutes.
-- Trains will share a track between Farragut North and Judiciary Square, and operate every 18
-- Before entering the single track area, the first trains to arrive at Dupont Circle and Judiciary Square respectively will hold for at least six minutes, waiting for rail traffic to clear from the opposite direction, and to wait for the
following train to be within two minutes of that first train holding. Two trains in a row will share the same track heading in the same direction to clear the work area. Then two trains will move through the zone in the opposite direction.
-- Party people pay attention: After 10 p.m. Friday and after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights, trains will leave about every 20 minutes from Shady Grove and Glenmont.

-- All the trains will have either six or eight cars to ease congestion.

Blue and Orange Lines

-- During the day, trains will leave about every 16 minutes from Franconia-Springfield, Largo Town Center, Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and New Carrollton.
-- Trains will share a track about every 18 minutes between Farragut West and Smithsonian.
-- Before entering the single track area, the first trains to arrive at Farragut West and Smithsonian will hold for at least six minutes, waiting for rail traffic from the opposite direction to clear, and for the following train to be within two minutes of the first train holding. (Same pattern as on the Red Line through the work zone. So the two trains going through the zone in the same direction will be about two minutes apart, before there's a longer gap to allow the trains in the opposite direction to come through.)
-- After 10 p.m. Friday and after 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, trains will leave about every 20 minutes from the ends of the lines.
-- All trains will be either six or eight cars long.

If you're going to Verizon Center ...

-- Blue Line from Northern Virginia who normally would transfer to the Red Line at Metro Center should transifer to the Yellow Line before that. The last station at which to transfer is Pentagon.
-- Blue and Orange Line riders from Prince George's County who normally would at Metro Center to the Red Line should transfer at L'Enfant Plaza and ride either the Yellow or Green Line to Gallery Place-Chinatown.
-- Red Line riders who normally would get off at Gallery Place-Chinatown should exit at Judiciary Square, or transfer at Fort Totten and board a Green or Yellow Line train.
-- Leaving Verizon Center, Red Line riders heading home in the Glenmont direction should consider walking two blocks on F Street to reach the Judiciary Square station and avoid the single tracking zone. (Something you can't do without a much healthier walk if your train is in the Shady Grove direction.)

More Information

Don't count on Metro's Trip Planner. It's normally very useful for information about best routes and travel times, but its program won't reflect the disruption caused by the weekend work. Add 30 minutes to what it's telling you a trip will take this weekend. Also, you can call Metro's information service, at 202-637-7000 or TTY 202-638-3780.

The other big repair job on the Red Line during these winter weekends is the replacement of a switch near Medical Center. That began last weekend, but will be suspended for MLK weekend. It picks up again for the three weekends after that. So there's only one delay to worry about on the Red Line this weekend, but it's a big one.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 15, 2008; 7:28 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Next: Toward a New Era in Transportation


Well, this stinks for me personally, but I'd certainly rather them do the work than be riding on the Red Line as the bridge collapses or something. Guess I'll be sure to leave early and bring a book.

Posted by: Lindemann | January 15, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm... Did the we just pay for this work to be done via the fare hikes?

Although it needs to be done- why is this the FIRST we are hearing about it? How long did Metro know of this safety issue on the platform??

Posted by: ANX | January 15, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Brilliant! The Capitals play Saturday night, and the Wizards play Friday night and Monday afternoon. Metro does a poor job of handling event crowds normally. This type of maintenance work is never easy, but that's why you schedule it at times when the system will not be heavily used.

Posted by: swags | January 15, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm really frustrated that Metro thinks that the weekend is appropriate "downtime" to undertake major, disruptive repairs like these. Metro is NOT just a commuter rail. Thousands of car-less people in DC depend on the Metro to get them wherever they need to go, not just to work Monday through Friday. But since we are a captive audience, and depend on the Metro no matter what, I guess they feel that they can force us to wait 45 minutes for a 4-car red line train on a Saturday afternoon with no consequences. Horrible.

Posted by: Stef | January 15, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

What is the Red Line "bridge" ? I go through Metro Center every day, but am not sure what the "bridge" is.

Posted by: PQ | January 15, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

PQ: The "bridge" is what supports both the tracks and the platforms for the Red Line. Metro Center is a giant underground space. The "floor" of said space is where the Orange and Blue lines are. But on top of that, and within the same massive underground space, you have a "bridge" where the Red Line is.

Posted by: Arlington Driver | January 15, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

PQ, the "bridge" they are reffering to is the area where the red line tracks crosses overtop (upstairs from) the Orange/Blue line. You probably think of this as being upstairs on another level rather than a bridge.

According to google maps, it's about 1.5 miles from Verizon Center to the Dupont Circle - South entrance. A long walk but a doable one. Walk about 9 blocks down H St. and turn right onto Connecticut Ave. Then walk 6 blocks (cutting through Farragut Square) to Dupont Circle metro. Might be worth it to hop in a cab too.

Posted by: Laura | January 15, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I see. Thanks, guys. Yes, I was thinking of the Red Line area more as the "upstairs" than as a bridge over the downstairs/Blue-Orange area.

Posted by: PQ | January 15, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Last night at 8:45pm, a FOUR CAR red line train to Glenmont pulled in to Metro Center (the next one was to be a 4 car train also). I thought Metro reversed the decision to go to 4 car trains in the early AM hours on the weekends; so why does it make sense in the early evening during the week? Even Metro employees on a shift change who were on our car were astonished. They also made several comments on the need for Metro to do some more hiring to alleviate severe understaffing.

Posted by: Glenmont commuter | January 15, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Swags -- Don't forget the Hoyas! They play Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon and will fill a lot more seats than the Caps or the Wizards.

Posted by: CBGB | January 15, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I completely forgot about the Hoyas. With their game Monday night too we're looking at five Verizon Center events this weekend. Maybe Metro will get all the fans home before Tuesday's morning rush.

Posted by: swags | January 15, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Cut metro some slack please. Just when are they supposed to do these repairs? During rush hr? Get real. Either drive, take a cab, or leave a little early and bring a book.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"Cut metro some slack please. Just when are they supposed to do these repairs? During rush hr?"

Unlike NYC, our metro is not open 24 hours a day. Why can't they do the work when it is closed? It might take a bit longer (though they would work 5-6 days at a time rather than 2 3-day weekends split by several weeks) but I think would be much less disruptive.

Posted by: Captitol Hiller | January 15, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Nobody's saying they shouldn't do repairs, but where's the contingency plan? Why not run extra service, for instance? Why not all 8-car trains? Why not supplement with bus shuttles outside of the single-tracking region? Why only tell us about it now?

Posted by: nashpaul | January 15, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

If the bridge collapsed, Metro would apologize for the inconvenience and then just ask everyone to walk from Farragut North to Gallery Place (and back again).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Does Metro lose more money on weekends or weekdays? It might be better off shutting the whole thing down on weekends.

Posted by: close it all | January 15, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Private sector workers are going to have fun with this one on Martin Luther King Day and President's day. Remember, not everyone has off those days. Sixteen mins between trains during rush hour? Yikes! At least you can park downtown for free at meters (better get there early though, and don't try to use Canal Road or Rock Creek Parkway to get downtown.....)

Posted by: Woodley Park | January 15, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

They can't do work just at night if it involves significant mobilization of equipment or dismantling pieces of track. By the time they're done getting ready to work, they have to reverse the whole process in time to reopen. So they shut down one side for the whole weekend. Timing is unfortunate though . . .

Posted by: ah | January 15, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

They should shut down Metro on the weekends unless there is a sports game!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 15, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

On Tuesday night, Metro was single tracking on the Blue and Orange Line at Metro Center for "scheduled track work" I went to get the Orange line after the Caps game and got to Metro Center around 9:45 pm. Do you know if Metro will be single tracking any other nights this week or where on Metro's website that one can find out about "scheduled track work" in advance (not the scroll when the track work is being conducted) Thanks

Posted by: Cathy W | January 15, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

The single tracking at metro center started at 9:30 tuesday night. The wait for the orange line toward vienna was 25 minutes. With the crowd gathering after the capitols game, once the train came it was packed. Not everyone got on. I was fortunate to squeeze in but made no friends doing so. The wait cost me my bus connection and a $20 taxi ride. Thanks for starting the construction so early on a weeknight with a capitol's game going on none the less. Great planning!

Posted by: Jamming | January 15, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

This is the nation's capital - there is a big public event going on EVERY weekend of the year. Suck it up and deal.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 16, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Is this why Blue Line trains were running 10-15 minutes apart during rush hour this morning?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 16, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

So is this now a weekday project? I have not seen this announcement but after last night it seems to be affective weekday nights as well. Stay Tuned.....

Posted by: Jamming | January 16, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think it makes a lot more sense to have this work done over the weekend, interrupting mostly leisurely activities, than causing people to be late for work. People's livelihood is more important than entertainment or even necessary shopping. Since it either has to be one or the other, and the repairs do need to be done, I think this is a no brainer.

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