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Metro’s Blue, Yellow line construction will require detours this fall

Bridge and tunnel repair and prep work to open a new station is prompting Metro to reroute passengers

A Yellow Line Metro train travels from D.C. to Virginia across the Potomac River. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
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Two Metro projects will alter Blue and Yellow line traffic this fall as the transit agency prepares to open a new station and repair a bridge between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

Work to connect Metro’s new Potomac Yard station to the system and construction work to rehabilitate a Yellow Line tunnel and bridge will start Sept. 10, then last more than eight months, requiring station shutdowns on both lines. Metro has proposed alternative routes and said it will offer free shuttle bus service to help passengers navigate the interruptions.

The Potomac Yard station, between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Braddock Road stations, is scheduled to open in the fall to provide Alexandria residents easier access to Metro. New tracks that will link the station to Metro’s existing rail system will require a six-week shutdown of service south of the airport, which will require the closure of six Blue and Yellow line stations until Oct. 22.

Afterward, Metro will need to conduct additional testing and training on weekends and after-hours.

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The Yellow Line tunnel and bridge rehabilitation work is a separate project that will shut down the Yellow Line tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza station and the bridge across the Potomac River until about May 2023. Both structures — built before Metrorail opened — are nearing their life expectancy, and Metro’s chief engineer has identified the steel-lined tunnel as the agency’s top repair priority. Metro said workers plan to strengthen the tunnel’s lining to stop water intrusion, while miles of communications cables used by multiple jurisdictions will be replaced.

Metro interim General Manager Andrew Off said he understands the inconvenience both projects will cause.

“The project teams understand that station closures and service changes can be very disruptive to our customers, and we are working hard to use the closure time efficiently,” Off said in a statement. “These projects are carefully coordinated with the local jurisdictions to ensure convenient, reliable service is available across the region while we complete this critical work to maintain and improve our system.”

Service changes will come in two phases, Metro said.

During this fall’s six-week Blue and Yellow line closures south of the airport first, which will last until Oct. 22, the entire Yellow Line will shut down, along with rail service south of the airport. Yellow Line stations north of the airport will be serviced by Blue and Green line trains. Blue Line service will be increased with trains departing every seven to nine minutes from the airport and New Carrollton stations until 9:30 p.m., when wait times will be about 15 minutes.

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Metro said passengers traveling between the Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations should plan on about 15 minutes of extra travel time. Green Line trains, meanwhile, will operate every eight minutes, then every 10 minutes after 9:30 p.m.

Metro will offer seven free shuttles during this phase to replace rail service, including local and express shuttles that have fewer stops in Virginia and three shuttles that will cross the Potomac River. The shuttle schedule includes a Blue Line local bus that will run between the Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn Street, King Street-Old Town, Braddock Road and Reagan National Airport stations every 10 to 20 minutes.

Yellow Line local shuttle service between the Huntington, Eisenhower Avenue, King Street-Old Town, Braddock Road and Crystal City stations will run every 10 to 15 minutes. The shuttle will not stop at the airport, Metro said.

Express shuttles will be available between 4:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays and 6:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends. They include a Blue Line express shuttle that will run between the Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon stations every six minutes, and a Yellow Line express shuttle between the Huntington and Pentagon stations that also will run every six minutes.

Another set of shuttles will operate only during weekday rush hours — between the Crystal City, Pentagon City, Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza stations every 12 minutes, Metro said. It will not stop at the Pentagon.

A second bus will operate between the Pentagon, Smithsonian and Archives stations every 12 minutes. And a third will run between Mount Vernon Square in the District, Alexandria and Potomac Park every 20 minutes.

The second phase will stretch from Oct. 23 until May 2023, and will start with the reopening of stations south of the airport. The Yellow Line, however, will remain closed with those stations being served by Blue or Green lines, Metro said.

Blue Line trains will run every 12 minutes between the Largo Town Center and Franconia-Springfield stations and every 12 minutes between the Huntington and New Carrollton stations. After 9:30 p.m., trains will arrive about every 15 minutes.

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Green Line trains will run every eight minutes during the day and every 10 minutes after 9:30 p.m.

Metro will run three limited-stop shuttles that cross the Potomac River during weekday rush hours, the agency said. The first carries riders between the Crystal City, Pentagon City, Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza stations every 12 minutes. It does not stop at the Pentagon.

The second services the Pentagon, Smithsonian and Archives stations every 12 minutes. The third shuttle will run between Mt. Vernon, Alexandria and Potomac Park every 20 minutes.

Metro suggested that riders also consider other travel options, such as the bus rapid transit line Metroway, the 16Y Columbia Pike-Farragut Square bus line that runs between Barcroft and the McPherson Square station — which will add extra service during the project — and Virginia Railway Express. VRE service is available at the Franconia-Springfield, King Street-Old Town, Crystal City and L’Enfant Plaza stations.

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