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Posted at 1:02 AM ET, 12/21/2009

Icy tracks and roads hindering Metro work

By Eric Athas

Icy roads and tracks are likely to restrict Metro bus and rail service for the Monday morning commute, as falling temperatures and blowing snow keeps rails out of service, according to a late Sunday announcement from Metro.

Metro workers are laboring overnight using heavy equipment and de-icing gear to clear the tracks and switches, as well as to dig hundreds of rail cars out of yards covered with a foot or more of snow, the announcement said. The goal is to open all 39 above ground stations, most of which were closed Saturday and Sunday, by Monday morning.

Underground stations are expected to be open, although many escalators stopped working due to heavy snow and ice so Metro is encouraging commuters to use elevators to access the stations where possible.

Bus service, which was suspeneded Sunday evening after bus drivers started reported their vehicles were sliding on the icy roads, remained uncertain for Monday morning. Metro said its bus supervisors were working with local transportation departments to request snow and ice removal on particularly troublesome stretches of road.

MetroAccess service will operate from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday only for customers "whose trips are associated with life-sustaining medical needs such as chemotheraphy and dialysis," according to the Metro statement. All other MetroAccess trips will be cancelled automatically, and customers notified, it said.

The snowstorm prevented hundreds of Metro bus and train operators from reporting to work on Sunday, and the system could remain understaffed on Monday. "If road conditions do not improve, staffing levels may be a challenge for Metro on Monday as employees again may be unable to report for duty," according to the statement.

--By Ann Scott Tyson

By Eric Athas  | December 21, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
Tags:  metro, metrobus, snow, tracks  
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