Wiehle Metro station shutdown set for October with possible Silver Line Phase 2 hand-off on the horizon

Wiehle-Reston East Garage (via Fairfax Connector)

The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station will be closed during the weekend of Oct. 23 and 24 so crews can work to connect the first and second phase of the Silver Line.

This will be the second time in six months that the station has been shut down so the two phases can be tied together after work and tests related to signal infrastructure were not completed in June as expected, necessitating another shutdown.

If the work is completed as hoped this time, it will be a major milestone for the $2.8 billion Silver Line Phase 2 project, potentially putting it on track for substantial completion by November.

The scheduled shutdown was added to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) track work page shortly after officials delivered an update on the project to the WMATA board yesterday (Thursday).

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) spokesperson Marcia McAllister said in an email to Reston Now that the scheduling of the shutdown for late October is “great news.”

“Now that a date has been set for the service outage needed to allow completion of the tie-in between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Silver Line, the Airports Authority and our contractors can get this essential work done in October and move the project toward substantial completion,” McAllister wrote.

Substantial completion refers to the point when MWAA will be ready to hand the project to WMATA. The authority previously set Labor Day weekend as the deadline but acknowledged in July that it wouldn’t meet that timeline.

At the board meeting, WMATA officials said they were comfortable with MWAA setting a new substantial completion deadline for the end of this year, stating that the work will most likely be finished in November.

If that is the case, Metro will still need another five to six months of operational readiness testing and pre-revenue activities, but that could mean the Silver Line Phase 2 will open to riders by May 2022.

However, in MWAA’s most recent monthly report, the project’s contractor Capital Rail Constructors proposed a substantial date of May 19, 2022, which could push the opening all the way to late 2022. It wasn’t the first time that the two parties disagreed on the project’s schedule.

Shortly after the report was released, though, CRC project executive Keith Couth told Reston Now that there were “opportunities through collaboration” to improve on that date and get it completed much sooner.

When reached for comment, Couch reiterated that they are working to finish by the end of this year.

“We are in the testing phase of the project which is very dependent on coordinating and finalizing testing with MWAA and WMATA, including scheduling of the next outage at Wiehle Avenue and the review of test reports,” Couch said. “In collaboration with MWAA and WMATA, we are working together to improve on the schedule, targeting a substantial completion in Q4.”

With the Wiehle shutdown now scheduled and the contractor supportive of a hoped-for 2021 substantial completion date, Silver Line Phase 2 is seemingly back on track after years of delays that have frustrated local officials, residents, and businesses alike.

“Level F” testing — meaning testing with actual trains — also began late last month and is going well, according to WMATA officials.

The nearly $3 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle-Reston East station west to Ashburn in Loudoun County. In total, six new stations will be added, including one at Reston Town Center and two in Herndon.

Construction began back in 2014 and was originally supposed to finish in 2018.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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