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Repairs to disrupt Red Line over MLK Day weekend

Many of the maintenance projects that so annoy Metro riders when they are strung out across many nights and weekends will be concentrated into a repair program on the western side of the Red Line during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

fasteners.jpg Rail fasteners that needed replacement look like salvage from Titanic. (Thomson)

Look for this pattern to continue throughout the rail system during in 2010: extensive and disruptive repairs focused on one section of track over a long holiday weekend, sparing riders a dribble of disruption over many weeks and saving money for Metro.

The target zone for MLK Day weekend is the Red Line between White Flint and Medical Center. From 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, through the midnight close on Monday, Jan. 18, the line will be split in two, with the Grosvenor Station closed. Free shuttle buses will bridge the gap. Allow 40 minutes of extra travel time to get through the work zone. The Red Line will be whole again at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Disruptive as that will be, the maintenance plan for President's Day weekend will probably have a greater impact on a greater number of riders: Rosslyn Station will be closed. The transit authority plans to release more details about that in a few weeks.

Red Line plan
The MLK Day weekend repairs on the Red Line are part of the larger rehabilitation project for the line that will continue through 2013. The weekend work includes installation of 1,400 feet of new rail, 310 new crossties, 200 tons of new ballast, 300 track fastener replacements, 600 new anchor bolts, repair of 200 feet of grout pads on the elevated tracks in that area and track circuit upgrades.

crosstie.jpg View of an old crosstie segment, showing deterioration. (Thomson)

A normal weekend of maintenance work might involve a couple of those replacements; crossties and fasteners, for example. Metro's new goal is to collect a group of repair projects and then attack the zone. If all the work involved in the long weekend were strung out in the typical pattern of late night, overnight and weekend work, said Metro planner Jim Hughes, it would take about five weeks to complete. Plus, the rail replacement part requires that both tracks be shutdown.

Dealing with disruption
MLK Day weekend is a relatively low ridership time. Still, the repair work will disrupt travel for many. Here's how Metro plans to handle that.

From Jan. 15 through Jan. 18, the last Red Line train leaving Shady Grove will depart 30 minutes earlier than usual to allow riders to connect with the shuttle buses and the last train leaving Medical Center toward Glenmont.

From 10 p.m. Jan. 15 through midnight Jan. 18, Metro will operate the free shuttle bus to link Medical Center, Grosvenor and White Flint. At Medical Center, use bus bay F. At Grosvenor, use bus bay C to White Flint and bus bay D to Medical Center. At White Flint, go to Marinelli Road in front of the station.

The shuttle will operate every six to eight minutes during the days and every 15 minutes after 9:30 p.m.

Travel tips
I have yet to speak with a rider who liked getting off a train, getting on a bus, then getting on a train again. Consider avoiding this by driving to or taking a bus to the eastern side of the Red Line for a trip downtown. Glenmont Station has more than 1,700 parking spaces. Wheaton has more than 950 spaces. Silver Spring doesn't have a Metro garage, but there are several Montgomery County garages very near the station. Parking at those garages and at Metro garages is free on weekends and holidays.

If you're going to an event at Strathmore Center over the MLK Day weekend, consider driving to the Metro garage at Grosvenor. Though the station will be closed, the parking garage will be open.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 6, 2010; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail, Red Line delays  
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Next: Updates on Wednesday's Metrorail problems


Thanks for this post. I move to Alexandria next Wednesday to start a temporary job in Bethesda at the Medical Center and am glad I have been forewarned about the Red Line construction. Although I live in Hampton Roads, I frequent this blog to see what's going on up there. Everytime I think transportation is haywire here, I just remember that the NCR is about 10 times worse. Thanks!

Posted by: jbhayes921 | January 6, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

it's hard to not be angry that Metro now closes stations on holiday weekends. The red line work outlined above, will be extremely inconvenient.

Posted by: Max231 | January 6, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Uhh, Max, would you rather they shut the station down on a work day because of failed inspections or track breaking? Maintence has to be done sometime.

Posted by: EricS2 | January 6, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

There's a Caps game Friday evening, which usually ends around 9:30--meaning there will be a lot of people that will be going to the western end of the Red Line around the time that the Grosvenor station is scheduled to close. Will Metro get those people through the system before closing the station, or will they have hundreds (perhaps even as many as a couple thousand) waiting for an every 15 minute bus Friday night at the Medical Center station?

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 6, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

EricS2- until last year, stations were NEVER close for maintenance. And see the post after mine.

Posted by: Max231 | January 6, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

You can also catch Ride-On ROUTE#46 from Medical Center going up Rockville Pike, towards Grovesner & White Flint.

We all know how well METRObus operates when the METRORAIL is shut down.

Just beware of the CONVICTED Child Molester that operates the Ride-On buses from the Gaithersburg depot.

Posted by: Robbnitafl | January 6, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

The rail fasteners pictured above are first generation rail fasteners that were put in on sections of the system that were built back in the 1970s. I have one I collected during the construction of the Farragut North station in the early 1970s.

Posted by: SandBoxJohn | January 8, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

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