Saturday, May 12, 2018
Just one year after Metro’s SafeTrack program closed sections of Alexandria’s Metro, deep in the throes of the “Back2Good” public relations campaign, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has announced that in summer 2019, the entire Alexandria section of the Metro south of the Reagan National Airport station will be closed for repairs.
“On Thursday we will be getting a much more detailed update on the announcement we heard earlier this week,” said Councilman Paul Smedberg at the City Council’s May 8 meeting. “This has been an issue that is well known. Several platforms are in urgent or dire need of repair. For us, we have three in particular that are in the worst shape in the system.”
The closure will shut down the local blue and yellow line from Memorial Day 2019 through Labor Day. Smedberg noted that currently several platforms are supported with steel bars and thick pieces of wood.
“It is going to cause severe disruption regardless of how the repairs are implemented,” said Smedberg. “The real issue here with this service as we saw with Safetrack is we only have two tracks. Not having the third really complicates things. There’s really no other way to do it than shut it down. Even doing one side vs the other still causes real service disruptions.”
A full-summer shutdown was hard news to find a silver lining in, but if there was one, Smedberg said that it might coincide with the construction of the Potomac Yard metro.
“This is something nobody is looking forward to,” said City Manager Mark Jinks, “but we have a year to prepare and get ready for this.”
Mayor Allison Silberberg said the city will be providing bus transportation from the nearest functioning Metro station.
“This is not something we can sugar coat,” said Vice Mayor Justin Wilson. “Having notice is good thing, but also bad because live with fear of the unknown. This is going to have negative impacts on ridership, not just during it but before it. We’re going to see macro-economic impacts during this period and building up to it.”