Rebuilding the D.C. Metro transit system's Red Line
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Work on the $177 million Metrorail rehabilitation project has been largely invisible to riders since the Metro board approved it one year ago. All they know is that they endure off-peak travel delays. That part stays, unfortunately, but some of the results of the effort should become more obvious over the next year.
The line's age is obvious to riders: Many elevators and escalators don't work; ceilings and platforms are deteriorating; the lighting is poor; and the announcements are unclear. Plus, it's really hot underground in the summer.
Metro planners have been working for several years on a rehabilitation program that eventually will reach all the lines, but the Red Line effort is the first. The formula, financed through Metro's capital budget and federal stimulus money, called for tackling maintenance and upgrades in sections. But the planners decided last year to add in some repairs that needed to go ahead more quickly.
Like the repairs now underway to preserve the 14th Street bridge, replacement of 12,000 feet of track, 290 crossties, 910 rail insulators and 9,800 track fasteners in that western section of the Red Line was necessary.
But only the disruption of single-tracking around work zones was evident to travelers. That phase of track work was completed in the spring. A new phase got underway this month.
The next year
One of the more visible elements will be the platform repair and tile replacement at the Rockville, Shady Grove, White Flint and Twinbrook stations, which are greatly deteriorated. Metro expects the platform work to be completed in early 2011.
Through next summer, Metro plans to perform power upgrades; install new, bigger kiosks; improve the automatic train control and communications systems; change the style of station signs so they look more like the very clear ones at Gallery Place; improve public address systems; improve air-conditioning equipment; and rehabilitate escalators and elevators.
There are several other escalator projects outside that zone included in the program: at Dupont Circle's 19th Street entrance and at Foggy Bottom (even though the station is on the Blue and Orange lines). Foggy Bottom also will get an entrance canopy and a stairway.
Metro's plan calls for tackling other segments of the Red Line for similar work in this order:
The next contract, for the Blue and Orange lines, could be awarded this fall.
Impact on riders
This means continued single-tracking of trains around work zones late at night during the week and throughout the weekends. Limiting work to those off-peak hours disrupts fewer riders, but it stretches out the program's timetable.