The stations include McLean, Tysons, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East. West Falls Church, an Orange Line station that has been closed for a platform replacement project, will also reopen Aug. 16, Metro said.
“I am excited by the news of the earlier reopening of the Silver Line and the West Falls Church station this summer,” Fairfax County Board Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay (D-At Large) said in a statement. “As our COVID-19 case data improves, we need to be able to approach reopening the region in a safe and sustainable way, while also supporting the needs of the business community.”
The Tysons Partnership had been pressing Metro and the county for an earlier reopening.
In a statement, the partnership, which includes hotels, restaurants, developers, condominiums and corporations based in Tysons, said members were pleased to see the expedited return of rail service. But until then, they said, they also want Metro, county and state governments to create dedicated bus lanes.
“With Phase Three reopening beginning July 1, traffic volume in Northern Virginia is projected to return to near pre-pandemic levels,” the statement said. “Tysons Partnership agrees with and supports [Metro] General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld’s statement that bus lanes will allow Metro ‘to cycle buses more efficiently, expanding capacity that would allow passengers to maintain social distancing.’ ”
Metro said work crews have been moving quickly, reconstructing platforms at Orange Line stations west of Ballston, including West Falls Church, Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church, all of which were shut down at the same time as the Silver line. The station platforms are decades old, and some have been crumbling. Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church remain on schedule to reopen “no later than Labor Day,” Metro said in a statement.
Starting Aug. 16, Metro said, it will run free shuttle buses outside the stations connecting to other operating stations until the platform work is done.
Meanwhile, workers connecting the Silver Line to its second phase are on track to finish necessary connections and testing, but Metro still has not announced when the remaining part of the line will open. The extension is being built and overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and has been delayed because of construction problems for more than a year.
Metro made the decision to shut down the Orange and Silver stations to expedite the projects because very few riders are using the system during the coronavirus pandemic. Since mid-March, rail ridership has dropped 90 percent or more when compared with last year.
But passenger trips have started to tick up consistently since Maryland, Virginia and the District late last month began lifting business and social restrictions meant to protect people from the novel coronavirus. Federal agencies that had planned to wait until fall before calling workers back into the office now say they’re feeling pressure from the White House to reopen offices sooner because of President Trump’s desire to restart the economy.
Spikes in ridership are also being attributed to the daily protests that have been taking place near the White House and elsewhere. The protests began after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.
About 48,000 passengers rode Metro on Thursday — about 7 percent of the passengers aboard rail cars a year ago, but this is the first month since the pandemic started that Metro has recorded 50,000 or more passenger trips on multiple weekdays.
On Monday, Metro officials announced that they planned to reopen 15 of 19 stations they had shut down in March to save on limited cleaning supplies, discourage crowds from using the system for nonessential travel and to limit Metro employees’ exposure to the coronavirus.
“We appreciate the patience of our customers and the business community as we have worked to complete these projects as quickly and safely as possible,” Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “By combining the schedules of our two biggest capital priorities in Virginia during a time of historically low ridership, we believe we have positioned Metro and the region for a strong recovery.”
More information and updates about Metro’s construction work and reopening schedule can be found at wmata.com/platforms.