Metro plans fewer weekends with major track work for first half of 2014

Robert Thomson
Columnist January 10

Metro unveils its schedule for major weekend track work in six-month chunks. These semiannual lists are useful not only for planning purposes but also for tracking the evolution of the system’s rebuilding program, now several years old.

The latest list, for January through June, is sparser than the 2013 listings. In the first half of last year, for example, Metro closed stations on weekends 22 times. In the first half of 2014, it plans to shut stations 10 times.

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. View Archive

This isn’t the same as saying that Metro has cut the weekend work schedule in half, or cut the burden on weekend riders in half. It’s more complicated than that.

Some tasks lend themselves to the strategy of shutting stations and using free shuttle buses to bridge the gap between the open parts of train lines. Some don’t.

Some of the scheduling is dictated by the environment. Metro avoids scheduling major work during peak travel periods, such as the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Also, there will be plenty of other scheduled disruptions that are not defined as “major work.” This long-range list is available because it takes many months to plan such projects. Lesser jobs come together in a shorter time frame, and Metro publicizes the resulting disruptions on the Mondays before they begin.

So the full impact of weekend track work on travelers emerges only over time.

Still, this changing pace is something that many riders are likely to notice during the winter and spring.

“We told our riders that the rebuilding effort would gradually wane in intensity as we were able to dig out of the hole,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. “That’s what you’re starting to notice.”

He added that “we still have more to do.” The transit authority’s plan is to continue the aggressive rebuilding effort into 2017. Metro’s senior managers get a little squirrelly whenever we use the word “done” in relation to maintaining the transit system. But they do allow that after 2017, the intensive phase of scheduled service disruptions should be over.

Riders who have been through many inconveniences certainly have plenty more ahead. But let’s take stock of where we are now:

We’re going into a phase of fewer major disruptions. Also, the midday maintenance disruptions have disappeared.

The weeknight work now begins at 10 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. The transit authority is more sensitive about scheduling service disruptions on Monday holidays, recognizing that not all riders are federal employees.

This year, in addition to the annual gap for the Cherry Blossom Festival, there’s also a gap in May during college commencement season.

Here’s the full list of major work for the first half of this year. Note that these schedules are sometimes modified, particularly in the later months.

January to June


Martin Luther King Day weekend (Jan. 17-19):

Red Line. Buses replace trains between Metro Center and Woodley Park from 10 p.m. Friday through the rail system’s midnight closing Sunday. Farragut North and Dupont Circle stations will be closed. Service on Monday, the holiday, will be normal.

Green Line. Buses replace trains between College Park and Greenbelt. The Greenbelt station will be closed. Normal service on the Monday holiday.

Feb. 15-17:

Red Line. Buses replace trains between Metro Center and Woodley Park. The Farragut North and Dupont Circle stations will be closed.


Feb. 22-23:

Blue/Orange lines. Buses replace trains between Eastern Market and the Cheverly and Benning Road stations. The Potomac Avenue, Stadium-Armory, Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations will be closed.


March 15-16:

Green Line. Buses replace trains between College Park and Greenbelt. The Greenbelt station will be closed.


April 19-20:

Orange Line. Buses replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations will be closed.

April 26-27:

Orange Line. Buses replace trains between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations will be closed.


May 24-25:

Blue/Yellow lines. Buses replace trains between Braddock Road and the Franconia-Springfield and Huntington stations. The King Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield stations will be closed.

Red Line. Buses replace trains between Forest Glen and Glenmont. The Wheaton and Glenmont stations will be closed.


June 28-29:

Red Line. Buses replace trains between Dupont Circle and Gallery Place. Farragut North and Metro Center (Red Line platform) will be closed.

Dr. Gridlock also appears Thursday in Local Living. Comments and questions are welcome and may be used in a column, along with the writer’s name and home community. Write Dr. Gridlock at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or e-mail drgridlock@washpost.com .

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