- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2004

Metro officials say the transit system’s new New York Avenue station is on schedule for its projected November opening, and parts of the Red Line will be shut down this Labor Day weekend to begin connecting the new track to the line.

From 8 p.m. today to Tuesday at 5:30 a.m., the Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations will be closed. Crews will realign rail track, tie in about 400 feet of new track to existing track, install a double crossover, and install signals on the Red Line between Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue.

Free shuttle buses will run every five minutes between Union Station and Fort Totten with stops at the Brookland-CUA and Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail stations.

“This weekend on the inbound track, we will cut existing track and connect the new rail, make the electrical connections and run operational tests for safety,” said project manager John Thomas.

The tests will be conducted Sunday and Monday. By Tuesday morning, trains heading to Union Station will be passing through the new station. Two more weekend shutdowns are planned before the station’s mid-November completion. Those two weekends, as well as the station’s opening day, will be determined at the Sept. 16 Metro board meeting, said Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

Officials say minor delays could occur Wednesday on trains heading from Glenmont to Union Station. Speed restrictions may slow trains as crews test and monitor the communications and signal systems associated with the placement of the new inbound track.

“We recognize this next phase of work will cause some inconvenience to our customers and we do apologize,” Mr. Thomas said. “While it may take our customers slightly longer to get to where they are going, they will arrive at their destinations safely. We want our customers to know how much we appreciate their patience as we continue the next phase of work as we prepare to open this new station.”

The location of the New York Avenue station, the 84th in the system, was chosen because it is in a commercial section of the city and an area with redevelopment potential. The station, located between Florida Avenue NE and M Street NE, was named for New York Avenue because of the street’s proximity, Mr. Taubenkibel said.

Metro says it anticipates its daily ridership will increase by 6,600 passengers because of the new station. The average weekday ridership on the Red Line is 240,000, Mr. Taubenkibel said.

The rail station’s construction began in November 2002.

“We’ve always said the project should be completed by the end of 2004. We’re shooting for a November opening, which puts us about a month ahead of schedule,” Mr. Thomas said.

“I’ve been working on this project for nearly five years,” he said.

The $103.7 million project was funded through a partnership that included the District, the federal government, and a special assessment district of private landowners.

“There were some criteria for the private contributors,” Mr. Thomas said. “They had to be located within a half-mile radius of the station, and their property had to be 10,000 square feet contiguously.”

The station will have two entrances, at M Street NE and near Florida Avenue NE. No parking or bus drop-off areas will be available.

Metro is constructing a mile-long portion of the Metropolitan Branch Bike Trail near the Florida Avenue entrance. The trail will enhance access to the station by pedestrians and bicyclists.

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