- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2004

Metro is expected to be operating on schedule today, after a weekend of delays caused by track repairs frustrated many riders trying to get around the system’s Red Line.

Riders had to cool their heels on the station platforms for up to 30 minutes waiting for the Red Line trains. The project is expected to stymie travel again next weekend.

“I’m upset because I have somewhere to go,” said Monique Freeman, 17, a high-school senior who was stuck at Union Station yesterday and became late for a library date. “I would have caught the bus if I’d known about [the delay].”

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority closed the stretch of Red Line track between Farragut North and Union Station from 10 p.m. Friday until midnight yesterday while crews replaced a switch, the piece of track that enables trains to change from one track to another.

The repair crews will finish the job next weekend, and trains again will be delayed from 10 p.m. Friday until midnight Sunday.

The repairs are part of the Metro Infrastructure Renewal Program, a comprehensive maintenance project aimed at improving the safety and reliability of the rail system, Metro officials said. The work was scheduled for the weekend to avoid major tie-ups for weekday commuters.

With only one track operating, trains sharing the Red Line track between Farragut North and Union Station ran every 24 minutes throughout the weekend.

Before entering the stretch of single track, the first train to arrive at either Dupont Circle or Rhode Island Avenue had to hold for 11 minutes to let the rail traffic clear. To keep the passengers moving, Metro ran two trains in each direction about 2 minutes apart.

Still, the delays vexed riders who used Metro to get to the Wizards game yesterday and the Saturday night Capitals game at the MCI Center.

It also annoyed some out-of-towners at Union Station.

“It bothers me,” said Don Ball, 63, a salesman from New York City visiting his brother in the District.

“I was going to take a cab, but then I remembered there was a stop near his house,” he said. “Had I known of this delay I would have got in the cab.”

Others were more resigned.

“Being from New York, we are used to it,” said Adela Tapia, 40, who was waiting on the platform with her family, including her 15-month-old daughter, Caroline. “There are always delays on the New York subway.”

Metro officials said passengers traveling next weekend between Glenmont and Takoma can avoid delays by transferring at Fort Totten and riding the Green Line into downtown to Gallery Place-Chinatown or to L’Enfant Plaza and switching to the Blue and Orange lines.

“We recognize the inconvenience this phase of our Metro Infrastructure Renewal Program will cause,” said Lem Proctor, chief operating officer for Metro’s rail service. “It may take customers slightly longer to get to where they are going, but they will arrive at their destinations safely.”

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