A sneak peek tour of the Silver Line

November 5, 2013

They look like … Metro stations.

That might not seem odd, because that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be. But for years, most sites along the new Silver Line looked like piles of dirt or, well, construction zones. On a sneak peak tour Monday, it was fun to see those spots morphing into something  familiar. From the distinctive Metro “M” on the tall brown poles that tells you that this is a Metro station to the fare machines with the image of a SmarTrip printed on the spot where you swipe your card to add value — it was almost all there.

And it’s clear, people are excited.

Missing, of course, are the passengers.

Officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion rail line expect to turn the first phase of the Silver Line over to officials at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority sometime soon. Once  WMATA completes testing and gets the necessarily federal approvals, passenger service will start.

“We’re close to the finish line,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project.

The control center at the McLean Metro station. This center is link to Metro's central control center and helps officials track trains as they move through the system. Every wire here had to be connected by hand. (Photos by Lori Aratani/The Washington Post)
The control center at the McLean Metro station. This center is link to Metro’s central control center and helps officials track trains as they move through the system. Every wire here had to be connected by hand. (Photos by Lori Aratani/The Washington Post)

But you’re not seeing things. Test trains have been running on the line since late 2012.

While lots of dates and timelines have been kicked around, Metro officials have remained mum on a specific start date. But officials in Fairfax County recently said it looks good for a February or March start. We’ll see.

On Monday, a group of Post journalists visited the McLean Station and then headed to Wiehle Avenue, which will be the end of the line for this first phase. Phase one of the Silver Line includes five stations — four in Tysons and one in Reston.

A model traces the path of the Silver Line through Tysons and into Reston. (Washington Post/Lori Aratani)
A model traces the path of the Silver Line through Tysons and into Reston.

 

Preliminary work on the second phase of the rail project has begun. The hope is to open the next six stops, including one at Washington Dulles International Airport, in 2018.

For those keeping track, Wiehle Avenue, the current end of the line, is about five miles from the airport.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear what you think of what you’re seeing and whether you plan to ride the Silver Line.

 

The view from the Wiehle Avenue station, the last stop on the Silver Line until Phase 2 is completed in 2018. The station sits in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road and is about 5 miles from the airport.
The view from the Wiehle Avenue station, the last stop on the Silver Line until Phase 2 is completed in 2018. The station sits in the middle of the Dulles Toll Road and is about 5 miles from the airport.

 

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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Ashley Halsey III · November 5, 2013