Suspicious Parcel Disrupts Service in Silver Spring Area

By Elissa Silverman and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 24, 2007

Vigilance and caution took no holiday as Christmas approached yesterday, so that some people trying to get from here to there in the Washington area were delayed for reasons that had nothing to do with the day's dense veil of fog.

Metrorail service was halted for about an hour and a half in the Silver Spring area after a green parcel, the size of a duffel bag and sealed with duct tape, was found in exactly the wrong place for such an item: on the Burlington Avenue bridge that crosses the Red Line.

Service in the area was halted about 5 p.m. while the package was examined.

X-ray equipment and a robot used by bomb-disposal technicians were brought to the scene.

The parcel contained trash, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.

Suspicious packages turn up regularly in the Washington area, and each that is reported receives careful treatment. This holds true even in a gift-giving season when packages seem omnipresent.

"We take every precaution," Piringer said.

Yesterday's package was near not only the Red Line, but also the CSX tracks, which parallel Metro there.

The overpass, which links Georgia Avenue and Fenton Street, was shut down. It is in downtown Silver Spring, just north of the boundary between the District and Montgomery County, and between the Takoma and Silver Spring stations.

The Takoma station was closed. Trains were stopped at Fort Totten and at Silver Spring.

Shuttle buses carried passengers around the closed station until regular train service resumed about 6:40 p.m., said Cathy Asato, a Metro spokeswoman.

Red Line ridership is generally light on Sunday afternoons, Asato said, and the bus service ran fairly smoothly, with few complaints from customers.

Later last night, a mechanical problem with a train at the Bethesda station delayed northbound Red Line travel to Shady Grove, according to a Metro announcement.

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