By Robert Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 8, 2011; 7:30 PM
It's a new year, but an old pattern: Metro is going to take advantage of the traditionally low ridership over a holiday weekend to make lots of repairs in the aging subway system. The activity planned for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend is focused on a segment of the Blue and Orange lines, but it involves other locations as well. Here's what you need to know about this complex effort, which will involve 500 Metro workers and contractors.Focal point: Foggy Bottom
Metrorail needs to replace four track switches at the Foggy Bottom Station. That's a big project, and will require the closing of the station for the entire weekend. If the transit authority tried to do this job without shutting the station, it could take seven or eight weekends, said Jim Hughes, Metro's director of planning. Since the station will be closed anyway, Metro also will install cable to upgrade cellphone service and work on the escalators and elevators. (The much-reviled escalators between the street and mezzanine are not involved in the weekend maintenance. They are scheduled to be replaced in the spring.)
Closing Foggy Bottom splits the Blue and Orange lines in two for the weekend. From 10 p.m. Friday through the transit system's midnight closing on Monday, Jan. 17, there will be no train service between Rosslyn and Farragut West, the stations on either side of Foggy Bottom. Metro will follow its usual procedure of setting up a free shuttle bus route to link the three stations.Shuttle service
Train riders coming out of Rosslyn and Farragut West stations should find the buses waiting for them. The buses will be on North Moore Street in Rosslyn and on 17th and 18th streets at Farragut West. The bus stops at Foggy Bottom will be on 23rd Street. Look for Metro employees assigned to guide riders to their destinations.
Although there should be enough shuttles to handle the crowds, keep in mind that the buses are going to be traveling along city streets, which have plenty of traffic lights. Riders who are going to use the shuttles to bridge the gap between stations should add about 40 minutes to their normal travel times, Metro says.Train schedules
Blue Line trains will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Rosslyn and between Largo Town Center and Farragut West. Orange Line trains will operate between Vienna and Rosslyn and between New Carrollton and Farragut West.
Throughout the weekend, Blue Line trains will operate about every 20 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and Rosslyn. Between Largo Town Center and Farragut West, the trains will operate about every 15 to 20 minutes.
Orange Line trains will operate about every 20 minutes between Vienna and Rosslyn. Between New Carrollton and Farragut West, they will operate about every 15 to 20 minutes.
Throughout the long weekend, Orange Line trains will share a track between West Falls Church and East Falls Church. This will make room for the Dulles Metrorail project to work on what will become the connection between the new line and the Orange Line.
On the Blue Line, trains will share a track between Van Dorn Street and Braddock Road. This helps clear an area for workers on the Wilson Bridge project who are rebuilding the Telegraph Road interchange. In those sectors, also add 40 minutes to normal travel time.
On the Red Line, long-term repairs continue. Trains will share a track between Friendship Heights and Van Ness while workers fix leaks in the tunnel and install new bumpy tiles on the station platform at Tenleytown. Add 20 minutes to a normal trip through this zone. Trains also will share a track between New York Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue while track work is underway.
Saturday through Monday, Jan. 17, trains will leave the ends of the Red Line at Shady Grove and Glenmont about every 15 minutes. From 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., more frequent service will be available in the more crowded middle portion of the line. Trains will operate about every seven or eight minutes between Van Ness and New York Avenue.Travel tips
l Virginia riders headed into the District could avoid the split on the Orange and Blue lines by picking up the Yellow Line, which starts at Huntington and will have extra service, then transferring to the Blue or Orange lines at L'Enfant Plaza. Blue Line riders who start out from Franconia-Springfield could switch to the Yellow Line at Pentagon Station.
l Trips on the shuttles will probably be the longest on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when downtown traffic is heaviest.
l If you know your trip will involve a wait on an outdoor platform or at a shuttle bus stop, dress appropriately for the winter weather.
l The District's Circulator buses are another alternative for Blue and Orange line riders. One route connects Rosslyn, Georgetown and Dupont Circle. Another goes between Georgetown and Union Station. A rider starting in Rosslyn could switch to the Union Station bus along M Street in Georgetown. The regular fare is a dollar, and if you use a SmarTrip card, transfers are free within two hours. See details at dccirculator.com.
l The most challenging time for Orange and Blue line riders will probably be Friday night. Passengers might reach their destinations early in the evening with no difficulty, then after 10 p.m. face a service disruption on the way home.