Silver Line: Final Touches, No Glitches as Opening Approaches

All systems are go for Saturday’s opening of Phase 1 of the Silver Line, Metro officials said in Monday’s weekly press conference call.

There are still a few punch list items remaining — among them, application of heat tape on rails as a cold-weather precaution and Certificates of Occupancy for three stations.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the heat tape, along with outstanding drainage issues, is the responsibility of contractors for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which constructed Phase 1. Those items can be done after service begins, he said. He also said he expects the Certificates of Occupancy for the McLean, Tysons Corner and Spring Hill stations to arrive this week.

“From a systems perspective, everything is running as designed and we see no issues,” Stessel said. “The last step is a couple of regulatory documents. I see no reason they will not be in hand in short order.”

Construction of the Silver Line suffered many delays as it neared the end of the five-year building period. As recently as June 9, Metro was expressing frustration at the slow pace of the work. Prior to that, MWAA and Metro reached an agreement in April that allowed MWAA to complete remaining items after the project was handed over to Metro — and avoid paying potential fines for every day the project was delayed.

Now it is just a matter of employees and trains getting used to adding thousands of riders to the rail system every day.

The Silver Line began simulated service on Sunday, with trains running every 12 minutes and without any issues, said Stessel. The trains are running on schedule but without passengers. Passenger service begins at noon on Saturday.

On Monday morning, trains ran every six minutes on a regular weekday rush hour schedule, also with no problems.

“This week is about familiarizing employyes with operation of trains on the new segment,” said Stessel. “Station managers were at their posts this morning. They opened the stations, even though they are not open for passengers. Crews will also be out prepping stations for opening day —  powerwashing, painting and putting finishing touches on facilities.”

Some Blue Line riders are affected by additional wait times due to the addition of Silver Line cars, but Stessel said increased wait times affect only 10 percent of Metro riders.

“Silver Line changes mean more service and a lesser wait for 37 percent of Metro riders,” he said. “Thirty-three percent (mostly riders on the Red Line and Green Line) will see no change.”

Plans for Saturday include a ribbon cutting and remarks from local dignitaries at 10 a.m. Passengers will be able to board the first trains at noon. Comstock will also have a public reception on the Reston Station plaza from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More Silver Line opening news:

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