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Metro shutdown will close some Blue and Orange Line stations next weekend

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By Robert Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 30, 2010; 9:25 PM

A force of about 500 workers will make repairs next weekend along almost nine miles of Metrorail track on the eastern side of the Blue and Orange lines. Although this is likely to be less disruptive than the Columbus Day weekend project that split those two lines in downtown Washington, riders still will need to add extra time to trips through the work zones, board shuttle buses or just find other stations to use. Here's a guide.

Why the work

The transit authority does much of its maintenance overnight, when the rail system is shut, or on weekends, when the train schedule is lighter. Some major projects, which require shutting both tracks, are reserved for long holiday weekends when the ridership is lighter. The work scheduled for the weekend requires that both tracks be shut. But Metro has run out of long weekends this year, outside the holiday season, and winter is approaching.

The main goals for the weekend are to install new track circuits outside the Stadium-Armory Station and to begin a long-term project to stabilize the ground, abutment and aerial structure outside the Cheverly Station. But Metro planners figured that as long as both tracks needed be shut, they would add as many other projects as possible. So workers are scheduled to replace 4,290 feet of track, 680 insulators, 2,418 rail ties, 650 track fasteners and two track switches at New Carrollton. They also will repair the platform at Minnesota Avenue.

What will be closed

The Orange Line's Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton stations will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 8. There will be no rail service in that zone. At the same time, no Blue Line trains will operate between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Benning Road Station will remain open. Service should return to normal when the system reopens, although trains may operate at reduced speeds in portions of the work zone.

Weekend service

The Orange Line will operate between Vienna and Stadium-Armory. The Blue Line will be split in two sections, with trains operating between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory and between Largo Town Center and Benning Road. During the day Saturday and Sunday, Orange Line trains will operate about every 12 to 15 minutes. After 9:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Orange Line trains will run about every 20 minutes.

After 10 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday, Blue Line trains will operate about every half hour between Franconia-Springfield and Stadium-Armory and between Largo Town Center and Benning Road. Because of another maintenance project, Blue and Yellow Line trains will share a single track between Braddock Road and Pentagon City on Saturday and Sunday.

Shuttle buses

From 10 p.m. Friday until the system's midnight closing Sunday, Metro will operate three free shuttle bus routes between the affected stations on the Blue and Orange lines.

Blue Line: Buses will operate between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road Metrorail stations.

Orange Line: An express shuttle will operate between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, with no intermediate stops. A local shuttle will stop at Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton.

Travel tips

l When using the shuttles, add 20 minutes to the normal trip time between Benning Road and Stadium-Armory. Add a half-hour to a trip between New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory when using the express shuttle. Add up to 40 minutes for a trip between New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory on the local shuttle.

l Be sure to add extra time if you are taking Metrorail to events in the District. The Capitals and Wizards will be playing at Verizon Center. The Greater Washington Heart Walk is scheduled for Saturday at Nationals Park.

l The free shuttle buses don't really replace the trains. It takes several buses to hold as many people as a single rail car. Also, it takes time to board and let passengers off the buses, and then there's the reality of stop-and-go traffic. Many travelers might prefer to drive to another Metro station, such as Greenbelt or Branch Avenue on the Green Line, and take the train from there. Whether you decide to drive downtown, remember that the District enforces parking meter regulations on Saturdays.

l Metro's Trip Planner, normally helpful in getting around, won't help you plan for any weekend when the lines are disrupted like this. Trip Planner goes by the normal schedule and doesn't adjust for disruptions.


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