- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Subway riders are wondering about the safety of the platforms where they wait for trains, since Metro has announced a $400 million, three-year plan to repair and rebuild 20 platforms, some of which were described as crumbling.

In addition, the transit agency’s plan to temporarily close stations for repairs — beginning with Blue and Yellow line stations south of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for 98 days next summer — will impact commuters already tired of train delays and maintenance disruptions.

“I’ll be directly affected by the service cut, as I work in Old Town Alexandria and will have to figure out how I’m going to commute to work!” Northeast resident Justin Lini, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, said in a social media message.

Mr. Lini told The Washington Times that he’s been a subway rider for 11 years, and he noted Metro’s recent rebuilding of the platform at its Minnesota Avenue station, which took three years to complete.

“Before that I used to ride Metro more than I do now, and used it on weekends whenever I had trips around town,” he said, adding that he’s worried the new round of repairs will lead to more inconvenience.

Metro announced this week its Station Platform Reconstruction Capital Project, which transit officials will present Thursday to the Metro Board of Directors. It will be the transit system’s first major construction effort to use new dedicated funding from the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Metro said the platforms have become structurally unsound after decades of exposure to the elements, and pointed out that it already has rebuilt platforms at 10 of its 45 outdoor stations, including the Minnesota Avenue and Deanwood stations.

Metro spokesman Ron Holzer told The Washington Times on Wednesday that the old platforms are safe and the new ones are expected to last about 50 years.

“If there were a safety concern, we would close the platform immediately,” Mr. Holzer said in an e-mail.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2019, the transit agency will shut down rail service south of Reagan National as it rebuilds platforms at the Braddock Road, King Street and Eisenhower Avenue stations. The stations at Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn Street, and Franconia-Springfield will be closed during that period.

Metro will partner with the jurisdictions and other transportation agencies to develop customer travel alternatives,” the agency said. “Metro customers will be given at least three months of advance notice prior to any service change under the program.”

Between September 2019 and March 2020, Metro will rebuild the platforms at the Van Dorn Street, Franconia-Springfield, Huntington and Reagan National stations while keeping all rail service open.

“During this phase, rail service is expected to operate normally except for the Blue Line in September 2019, which will be impacted by the reconstruction of [the] Van Dorn Street Station,” Metro said.

Platforms at the other stations — West Hyattsville, College Park, Greenbelt, Rhode Island Avenue, Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church, East Falls Church, Cheverly, Landover, New Carrollton, Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery — will be rebuilt in 2020-2021, Metro said.

Metro’s ridership has declined steadily over the last decade, and took a big hit during the 2016-2017 “SafeTrack” maintenance operation, which required reductions in service.

Subway rider Stephen White, 54, lives in Alexandria and uses Metro to visit family in downtown or when his car is being repaired by his mechanic in Huntington. He posted on social media that the closures will affect him and his family in three ways.

“[One], more people will drive which will clog up [Interstate] 395,” Mr. White wrote. “[Two,] since I slug to work, that may increase the number of riders leading to longer lines at the slug lot. [Three,] we’ll have to pay to use taxis or ride sharing to and from the airport.”

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