Despite a hotly contested debate between District Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metro executives, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) begins its SafeTrack repair and replacement program this weekend.
Metro released its revised scheduled for almost a year of maintenance work that will require trains to share a track or take entire stretches of track out of service for weeks at a time. Click on the image to see a larger version. (Metro)
The accelerated track work plan addresses safety recommendations and rehabilitations needed to ensure passenger safety and system wide efficiency.
In accordance with the plan, as announced by WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in May, Metrorail would shutter at midnight on weekends and expand its weekday maintenance schedule by single-tracking certain lines and shutting down line segments for several weeks at a time.
Bowser petitioned the transit agency in a five-page letter just days ago asking that alternatives be made to the plan which, she said, would adversely impact “the late night riders and nighttime workers who support and sustain the District’s economy.” Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans dismissed the concern in an e-mailed statement.
“As I can only say to the bars, restaurants, hotels: will close at midnight. There is no option to not close at midnight. And we will work with everybody to try and figure out how we can provide, if possible, some alternative transportation methods,” Evans said. “I think every jurisdiction, including the District, is raising issues with events, etc. that they have, that they would prefer not to have them disrupted, but as said, ‘If I start accommodating one, we’re going to be back to where we started. And we’re never gonna get this done.’ So, this is my plan, as he said, and we’re sticking with it.”
SafeTrack accelerates three years’ worth of work into approximately one year, using a “Safety Surge” method that shuts down entire segments of each line for extensive repair. Due to reduced capacity and longer expected travel times, Metrorail riders are encouraged to consider using alternate travel options while safety surge work is scheduled on their line. Trains and platforms are expected to be extremely crowded during peak periods and customers may experience extended delays. During line segment shutdowns, limited shuttle bus service will replace trains between the shutdown zones.