Metro weekend shutdowns to affect Blue, Orange lines

By Robert Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 10:27 PM

Metro is announcing big weekend shutdowns at a more rapid pace. Over Presidents' Day weekend, the Orange and Blue lines were split for a project that focused on replacing track switches outside Smithsonian Station. Next weekend, another major shutdown will affect a different part of the same lines. Here's a look at that project and some other plans for 2011.

Focus on Cheverly

The centerpiece of the work scheduled for this coming weekend is an aerial structure outside the Cheverly Station. Metro says that a developer's work on adjacent land shifted the ground and caused the aerial structure to move. The transit authority discovered the problem in December 2007 and has been working on a fix since, but it has always considered the tracks safe for trains.

A similar shutdown in November was part of the preliminary work for the fix, which will stabilize the aerial structure and the ground around it. More work is planned for the spring, when the project is scheduled to be completed.

Metro's standard practice now is to pile on as much other work as possible when it has to shut down stations. So in addition to the work on the aerial structure, crews will upgrade train controls outside the Stadium-Armory Station; install 6,000 feet of communication cables that will eventually improve cellphone service in the rail system; and replace 2,000 feet of track, 380 insulators, 1,400 rail ties and 400 track fasteners.

Rider impact

Metro's strategy for shutting stations and helping riders get around the closings is similar to the one it developed for the first round in November.

From the rail system's 10 p.m. Friday closing through midnight Sunday, there will be no Orange Line service between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton. Five stations will be closed: Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton. The Blue Line will not operate between Stadium-Armory and Benning Road. The Benning Road Station will remain open.

As usual during these disruptions, Metro will operate shuttle buses to get riders around the work zones. Anyone going that route should add up to 40 minutes to normal travel time.

The transit authority says service will return to normal Monday, March 7.

Shuttle schedule

Metro will operate three shuttle routes between the affected stations from 10 p.m. Friday through midnight Sunday.

Blue Line shuttle: This route will operate between the Stadium-Armory and Benning Road stations. Metro says riders should add 15 to 20 minutes to their trips.

Orange Line express shuttle: This express route will operate between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, making no stops in between. Add a half-hour to normal travel time if taking this route.

Orange Line local shuttle: This local route will operate between Stadium-Armory and New Carrollton, stopping at the Minnesota Avenue, Deanwood, Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton stations. Add 40 minutes to normal travel time if taking this route.

On the Red Line

Other, more routine disruptions will occur along two sections of the Red Line during the same period. Trains will share a track between Friendship Heights and Medical Center while workers replace track fasteners. Between Takoma and Forest Glen, workers will upgrade the train control rooms. In both work zones, riders should add 20 minutes to their normal travel time.

Future weekends

This is the tentative schedule for some of the other big maintenance projects scheduled during 2011. Watch here for updates.

Dulles Metrorail connections: On many weekends this year, the Dulles Metrorail project will continue the work that eventually will link the new line to the Orange Line. On the weekends of March 11-13 and March 18-20, there will be no Orange Line service between East Falls Church and West Falls Church. The stations will remain open, and Metro will operate free shuttle buses in between.

Cheverly: The next shutdown for work on the Cheverly aerial structure is set for the weekend of April 15-17. Specific plans for that are still in the works.

Memorial Day weekend: Metro plans to close the Eastern Market Station on the Blue and Orange lines from 9 p.m. Friday, May 27, through midnight Monday, May 30, to replace four track switches.

Labor Day weekend: Plans call for closing Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations on the Blue Line from 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, through Monday, Sept. 5, so workers can install new track switches between the Van Dorn Street and King Street stations.

Columbus Day weekend: The U Street Station on the Green and Yellow lines is scheduled to close from 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, through Monday, Oct. 10, while workers replace track switches near the station.

Veterans Day weekend: The Anacostia and Navy Yard stations on the Green Line are scheduled to close from 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 13, while workers replace track switches near the stations.

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