The Washington Post

Metro could take control of the Silver Line this month

A model traces the path of the Silver Line through Tysons and into Reston. (Washington Post/Lori Aratani) A model traces the path of the Silver Line through Tysons and into Reston. (Lori Aratani/The Washington Post)

Metro officials could take over control of the first phase of the Silver Line rail extension this month — a move that could mean train service could start before summer.

Dulles Transit Partners, the contractor responsible for building the first phase of the Silver Line rail project submitted documentation on Friday indicating they think they have completed construction and testing of the first phase of the $5.6 billion rail line, officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.

Officials at MWAA, which is overseeing construction of the rail line, which will be built in two phases, now have 15 calendar days to review the paperwork. Metro officials, who will manage and operate the line, also will take part in the review. Both agencies must agree with the contractor’s assessment of its work before the project can move to the next step — up to 90 days of testing and training conducted by Metro officials. It will be up to Metro to determine when passenger service on the rail line will begin.

“We have a daunting task to complete within the next two weeks,” said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project. “We have to be very thorough to ensure that everything that is required to be there is there.”

Though there had been hope that passenger service on the first phase of the rail line, which will have four stops in Tysons Corner and one at Wiehle Avenue in Reston, could begin as early as last December, a series of delays have pushed that timeline back.

In January, officials completed a simulated service test, designed to see how trains on the Silver Line worked when other portions of the Metro system were operating. Some problems surfaced during the testing, including issues related to the automatic train control system. People with information told The Washington Post that, in at least one instance, a train that received a red signal, was given commands to move forward even though it should have been told to stop.

Construction on the second phase of the rail line, which will include a stop at Washington Dulles International Airport, is expected to be completed in 2018.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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