Metro limiting track work over Columbus Day weekend


Work is scheduled for the Orange and Red lines, but the others will operate on normal weekend schedules. (Matt McClain for The Washington Post)

Although Metro often takes advantage of long holiday weekends to extend its track work, the program for the upcoming Columbus Day weekend will disrupt service only through Sunday.

The rebuilding effort will have its biggest impact on the Orange Line, but Red Line service also will be affected. The other lines will operate on its normal weekend schedules.

On Monday, Columbus Day, Metro will operate on a Saturday schedule, so there will be more time between trains than on a regular weekday. The rail system will open at 5 a.m. and close at midnight. Parking at all the Metro lots and garages will be free on the holiday, as it is on weekends.

Over the years of the weekend track work program, the transit authority has varied its plans for the long weekends. Yes, these are generally times of relatively light ridership, but on some, commuters who do not get the federal holidays off complained that the service plan was inadequate. Metro’s plan to end this holiday weekend’s disruptions Sunday night was announced in June, and is unrelated to either the death of a track worker last weekend or to the federal shutdown.

Looking ahead, Metrorail’s plan for the long Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 9-11, does include major work on the Red Line, which will shut the Shady Grove and Rockville stations for three days.

Here are the details for the Columbus Day weekend disruptions, beginning at 10 p.m. Friday and continuing till Metrorail’s midnight closing Sunday. D.C. United plays at 7 p.m. Saturday in RFK Stadium. The Capitals also have a 7 p.m. game Saturday, at Verizon schedule. Keep the track work schedule in mind as you plan your trips. On Friday, Metro’s online Trip Planner will incorporate the weekend adjustments into its scheduling program.

Orange Line. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory. Outside the work zone, between Stadium-Armory and Vienna, trains will operate on their regular weekend schedule.

Crews will continue work on the platforms at Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue. They also will do a variety of jobs to improve the tracks. To clear the work zone, the New Carrollton, Landover, Cheverly, Deanwood and Minnesota Avenue stations will be closed. The shuttle buses bridging the gap in the Orange Line will operate on local and express routes.

The local will stop at all the stations through the work zone between New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory. Allow about 10 minutes of travel time per stop, Metro said. The express bus service will stop only at New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory. Allow about a half hour for that trip.

Metro now has plenty of experience operating these weekend bus shuttles, and they tend to work pretty well. Staffers in yellow vests are there to guide riders to the right buses. They’re usually calling out instructions about which bus is which, but don’t hesitate to ask. The signs on the buses probably will just say “Rail Shuttle.” You’ll want to make sure which bus is going where, especially if you’re boarding at one of the intermediate stops in the work zone.

The Capital Weather Gang’s early look at the weekend: partly cloudy skies on Saturday with partly to mostly sunny skies on Sunday.

Red Line. Crews will work on the tracks between Twinbrook and Grosvenor. Trains will leave the ends of the line at Shady Grove and Glenmont about every 16 minutes during the day on Saturday and Sunday and about every 20 minutes late at night. Between Grosvenor and Silver Spring, more trains will be in service from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In that zone, trains should reach platforms about every eight minutes.

Robert Thomson is The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock.” He answers travelers’ questions, listens to their complaints and shares their pain on the roads, trains and buses in the Washington region.
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Mark Berman · October 8, 2013