Top 10 transit stories of '09: Shock but also progress

Sunday, December 27, 2009

1. Deadly crash on the Red Line

Nine people were killed and scores injured when an inbound Metro train crashed into a stationary train north of Fort Totten on June 22. The crash, still under federal investigation, had both immediate and long-term effects on the backbone of the region's transit system.

-- Automated safety features that are part of Metrorail's basic design were called into question.

-- All trains were put under the control of their operators until the safety issues are resolved.

-- Operators were ordered to stop the trains at the front of every platform, to guard against forgetful operators opening doors on cars that had not yet reached the platforms.

-- Delays along the Red Line continued into September.

-- Regional and federal officials began a push for greater oversight of the nation's transit systems.

2. Metrorail extension to Dulles begins

The first phase of the $5.2 billion project to extend rail service 23 miles west from the Orange Line tracks won federal approval and began construction in the spring. In the fall, property owners on the western side of the planned line agreed on a plan to finance station construction in the second phase.

-- In addition to providing a rail link to Dulles International Airport, the completed project will help shape the development of Northern Virginia communities along the way, particularly Tysons Corner.

-- The short-term construction impacts are huge -- and not so short-term. Commuters and shoppers in Tysons saw the beginnings of what will be several years of traffic disruptions.

3. Route 28 improvements

This project along the north-south corridor east of Dulles Airport has evolved quietly considering its significant impact on commuting and development in the airport region. As of this fall, the public-private partnership launched in 2002 has converted nine signalized intersections to grade-separated interchanges and greatly improved traffic flow in this busy zone.

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