Subway’s Silver Line extension nears finish line

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Metro could take control of the Silver Line extension this summer, transit officials said Thursday, bringing the long-delayed project closer to passenger service after nearly four years of delays.

The conditional transfer between the transit agency and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile rail extension to Loudoun County that includes a stop at Dulles International Airport, will be one of the last obstacles to the completion of the project.

Metro’s interim chief executive Andy Off told a meeting of Metro’s board of directors he expects the transit agency to take control of the project in “the next few weeks.” He didn’t provide an opening date, but said Metro would need more than three months of testing and other preparations before the expansion was ready to open. Within that timeframe, passengers are unlikely to board trains at new stations until late fall or winter.

“We will definitely be coming back to the board as we refine these schedules,” Off said.

Dulles Toll Road users may see increased fares to pay Silver Line

The latest development was met with moderate optimism by Northern Virginia officials who have been waiting for passenger service to begin. The expansion is seen in Fairfax and Loudoun counties as a boon to economic development and has led to the construction of several office campuses and shopping centers along the transit line.

“Certainly our patience and that of my constituents was already exhausted many months ago – especially since all the county-related facilities we had to build have been ready for operation since July last year” , Jeff C. McKay (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “However, I can say that I see progress. Getting MWAA to hand over the project to Metro is a major step.

McKay said he hopes the line will be open to passengers this winter.

The $5.8 billion Silver Line project will add six stations to the Metrorail system, which currently has 91 stations and six lines – starting at Wiehle-Reston East station in Reston and extending to Ashburn. The first phase of the Silver Line, with four stops at Tysons and one at Reston, opened in 2014.

Construction on the extension began in 2014 with an opening scheduled for 2018, but the project has been repeatedly delayed due to construction issues. Toll road users pay nearly half of the cost of the expansion, with Fairfax and Loudoun counties and the MWAA also contributing.

The MWAA declared the project substantially complete in December. Since then, officials from the metro and airport authorities have gone on a perforated list of incomplete items or items that have been reported out of concern. This list has been whittled down enough for transit officials to plan for the next step, which is to declare “operational readiness” and take interim control of the expansion for testing. Metro wouldn’t get full control until the line was about to open.

The delay proved costly for the MWAA, which paid contractors more than $8 million to continue overseeing the project until it was handed over to Metro.

“We are constantly working with [Metro] to make sure that happens,” MWAA spokeswoman Marcia McAllister said.

The Operational Readiness designation will allow Metro to simulate service, conduct emergency drills with first responders, address safety issues, fully train workers and ensure construction issues are resolved. before taking possession of it. On Thursday, Off said that period would take longer than 90 days.

Metro asks more than 70 train operators to retrain and warns of delays

The transit agency is preparing for the opening of the Silver Line as it navigates several crises affecting passenger service, including the overdue recertification of nearly 400 train and bus operators.

Last month, Metro revealed that nearly half of its train operators failed to complete the required training and recertification tests because Metro officials lost track of a waiver program created during the pandemic. The transit agency then halted the training program due to a shortage of trains resulting from the suspension of Metro’s 7000 series cars. In addition to rail operators, metro officials say nearly 200 bus operators – about 8 percent of workers in this role – were also not being trained.

Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta said 87 of the 257 rail operators whose credentials had lapsed had been recertified. after receiving the required training.

“We are still averaging five recertifications a day and expect train operator recertifications to be completed in the coming months,” he said.

Of the 197 Metrobus operators who lack recertification training and testing, 65 still need refresher training. Nine of these operators are unavailable due to long-term absences. Metro employs 2,458 bus drivers.

Metro also conducts assessments of other employees to ensure they are up to date on their qualifications. Rail traffic controllers have completed classroom training and required knowledge assessments, Jannetta added, while 16 still need practical skill tests.

Lori Aratani contributed to this report.

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