- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2016

Metro will implement long-term single tracking, suspend service at some stations and close down the entire system at midnight seven days a week to overhaul the ailing subway over the next year.

“We need to do something different and dramatically different. This is a massive undertaking,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a press conference Friday detailing the “Safe Track” plan. “It’s like a military operation with a lot of moving parts having to work together.”

The announcement comes just a day after service on a portion of three of Metro’s rail lines was shut down Thursday evening at the Federal Center station due to a smoke incident caused by debri on the tracks.

Earlier in the day that same station saw an electrical arcing incident similar to the one that caused a smoke incident last year at the L’Enfant Plaza station that killed one person and injured 86 others.

Metro’s plan, which will start on June 4, includes closing five sections of the rail completely as well as continuous single-tracking for up to 21 days at a time rather than only doing that work on weekends as was previously done.

The system will also shut down early on weekends. Normally stations close at 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, but that will be cut back to midnight.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans, who also serves on the D.C. Council representing Ward 2, said he knows this will cause headaches for commuters, but if the work isn’t now, the system and the safety of its riders will be in peril.

“We can’t continue as we are. We all know that,” Mr. Evans said Friday.

The Blue line will see the first work with trains single tracking for 15 days between Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street and it will affect about 18,000 trips through the station.

Though some sections will be closed completely during the work, Mr. Wiedefeld said Friday that only two or three stations at a time will be shut down. Portions of the track set to be closed in increments during the year-long plan include Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Braddock Road, Pentagon City to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Eastern Market to Benning Road, NoMa to Fort Totten and Rosslyn to Pentagon.

Suspended service between the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Braddock Road stations is set to start July 5 and end on July 12.

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