Silver Line Phase Two Test Trains Begin Running to Ashburn

Silver Line test trains are now running into Loudoun County.

Trains are making their way into the county from the aerial guideway on the Dulles Airport property through the Loudoun Gateway Station to the Ashburn Station.

Testing is underway using eight rail cars that were supplied by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Metro asked for a pause in testing in mid-September after expressing concerns about the safety of trains when they switch tracks. Recent investigations found that the issue is not linked to possible derailment for test trains.

Although Metro signed off on allowing train testing to continue, a number of concerns with phase two of the project remain, including concrete panel issues.

Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Brookfield Breaks Ground on $1.4 Billion Development — “Brookfield Properties celebrated the groundbreaking Monday for Halley Rise, a $1.4B project on the site of a 36-acre Reston office park.  The development’s first phase, scheduled to deliver in 2022, will feature 640 residential units, 450K SF of office and 200K SF of retail. The retail will be anchored by Wegmans, which is bringing its smaller urban grocery store concept to the project, and Pinstripes, a restaurant with a bowling alley and bocce court.” [Bisnow]

Metro Investigates Monday Train Collision — “The investigation into the cause of a low-speed train collision outside Farragut West is ongoing, including analysis of railcar data recorders, control center event logs, and signal system playback.  While Metro has not yet identified the root cause of the incident, investigators have found no evidence of a signal system failure and have ruled out “loss of shunt” as a cause.”  [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Annual Fiscal Year 2019 Report for Town of Herndon — Herndon Town Manager Bill Ashton presented findings and progress on different measures at a meeting in late September. The report highlights progress on major initiatives undertaken by the town in the last fiscal year. [Town of Herndon]

Early Bird Ticket Rates for Reston Home Tour Ending Soon — The $25 rate for the Reston Historic Trust & Museum’s annual Reston Home Tour is in effect until Friday (Oct. 11). The tour takes place on Saturday, Oct. 9. Regular price tickets are $30.  [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Photo by Dario Pipair/Flickr

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Overnight Collision Prompts Single Tracking on Silver Line

Commuters on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines should expect significant delays throughout today (Monday) after two trains collided between the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West stations.

Since 5:30 a.m. today, the three lines have been running trains every 15 minutes.  Silver Line trains are only Running between Wiehe-Reston East and Ballston. The Orange and Blue Lines are single-tracking between Farragut West and McPherson Square.

The rear-end collision happened around 1 a.m. today. Two train operators were treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the out-of-service trains collided.

Commuters should consider using alternative routes. Metro’s rush hour promise will be suspended on the three lines this afternoon.

Metro says the trails did not derail and no damage to Metro’s infrastructure was reported.

File photo

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Commuter Alert: Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station Closed This Weekend

A portion of the Silver Line will be closed between the Wiehle-Reston East and Spring Hill Station this weekend (Oct. 5-6).

The closure is one effect as crews work on connections between phase one and two of the Silver Line project.

Metrobus plans to provide free shuttles during regular Metrorail hours for commuters.

Trains will operate on regular weekend intervals between every 12 and 15 minutes between the Spring Hill and New Carrolton stations.

Customers traveling to and from Benning Road, Capitol Heights, Addison Road, Morgan Boulevard and largo Town Center must use Blue Line trains to commute.

Other service changes throughout the system are listed online.

Photo via Fairfax Connector

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Monday Morning Notes

Sunrise Valley Elementary School Turns 40 — “When Sunrise Valley Elementary School (SVES) was established in September 1978, it was still under construction. Students were initially bused to South Lakes High School to attend classes. The school officially opened its doors on Sept. 4, 1979 with Principal William “Bill” Berkeley Martin welcoming the first 600 students as they walked through the front entrance, according to the SVES website.” [Fairfax County Times]

County Police to Offer Car Seat Safety Checks — The Fairfax County Police Department is hosting several free car seat safety and install events on a monthly basis this year. The Reston District stations will offer reviews by appointment only on Oct. 17, Nov. 14, and Dec. 12. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Metro to Weigh Fare Increase — Metro could raise fares or make other changes next year, a prospect that is drawing pushback from the Metro Board’s Riders’ Advisory Council… The council had a budget briefing and discussion earlier this month, and urged the board to think more creatively about fare changes that could get riders onto the system. [WTOP]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Monday Morning Notes

Changes at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride — “Beginning September 23 through November 2019, Fairfax Connector bus service at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride will be relocated to a temporary stop on Sunrise Valley Drive. The relocation of service is due to necessary construction on the bus loop.” [Fairfax County Government]

Refunds for Metro Riders — “Late in the morning rush hour, thousands of Metro commuters experienced delays Friday Metro says it had to begin single-tracking after one of its train operators reported a metal object on the track just west of the Foggy Bottom station… Metro said under its “Rush Hour Promise” program riders with a registered SmarTrip card will automatically receive a refund if they were delayed ten minutes or more. Metro said if your card is not registered, as long as you register it before midnight tonight you will receive the refund.” [WJLA]

UMAI Ramen Reopens Today  The new ramen and rice restaurant opened at 482 Elden Street on Saturday. After all items on the menu were sold out that day, the restaurant plans to reopen today. [UMAI Ramen and Rice Bowl]

Photo by Jay Westcott

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Report: Metro Orders Silver Line Builder to Halt Test Train Runs

Metro officials have stopped Capital Rail Constructors from running test trains on the Silver due to concerns about construction flaws.

The Washington Post reports that metro officials want to complete their own inspections before allowing test runs to resume. However, a spokesperson for the Silver Line contractor said it has not been told to stop running test trains.

The Post reports that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) did not tell Capital Rail Constructors to halt trains because “it didn’t think it needed to,” according to the report.

Here’s more from the story:

At its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, MWAA’s board appeared unfazed following a project update report, saying it was moving forward and would be ready to carry passengers in July 2020.

“I want to compliment you and your staff,” Robert W. Lazaro Jr., who represents Virginia on the 17-member board, told Charles Stark, the project’s executive director.

The latest issue related to phase two of the Silver Line could delay the overall project. Contractors originally began running test trains in February.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Metro Board Flags Problems with Silver Line Extension Project

Metro board members flagged several concerns with the Silver Line extension that could delay its expected opening date in July 2020.

At a Thursday board meeting, the board heard a comprehensive report about critical issues on the stations including cracked concrete an unleveled track.

In some areas, track plates are curved, creating a gap between the plate and tie of track plates. The report also found irregular track cross-levels. The contractor attempted to install pads, create custom guard rail plates and install hardware for all turnouts — a fix that Metro rejected because it is “not a safe and effective longterm solution.”

The report also indicated that the ballast — the gravel around the tracks — was contaminated with materials that could cause drainage issues and pose a potential safety risk.

Metro also rejected the contractor’s application of a sealer to remedy cracked concrete at five at-grade stations. The fix was implemented after a federal investigation confirmed the contractor falsified test results at the concrete plant.

The body is seeking a safe and effective long term solution after tests showed that the sealer did not effectively penetrate cracked concrete in 20 percent of the 25 areas Metro’s Office of Inspector General tested.

According to WAMU, Maryland board representative Michael Goldman said the findings cast a “dark and foreboding cloud” over the expected opening date provided by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority must address concerns highlighted by the report in order for Metro to take over the project.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Fairfax Officials Raise Concerns About Silver Line Phase 2 Safety

Fairfax County officials’ concerns about safety dominated the county board’s latest discussions about phase two of the Silver Line project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reportedly wants to open the six-station second phase from Wiehle-Reston East to Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn next July. 

Mark Canale from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation provided the Board of Supervisors with an update on the project today (Tuesday) at the Transportation Committee meeting.

Currently, dynamic testing and safe breaking testing are taking place for the project, he said.

Canale said that there are “four issues that are ongoing right now.” The issues include problems with concrete and leveling.

This isn’t the first time the project has run into problems. Earlier this year, defective concrete rail ties put the tracks out of alignment.

“This is a big project and an important project,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said. “I think it’s absolutely critical that when something is not getting done correctly, that we don’t brush over it and that we hold the contractors’ feet to the fire.”

Braddock District Supervisor John Cook said that the safety concerns should be taken seriously. “It will kill us,” he said.

Cook stressed that he wants transparency and honestly around the issues so that they can get fixed.

“It’s pretty bad when your concrete doesn’t work,” Cook said. “That’s a bad thing.”

In addition to the issues facing the project, Canale said that riders can expect several weekend closures at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in the coming months as work on the Silver Line project continues.

The first closure — which has been approved already — would last from Oct. 5-7. The following month, riders can expect closures from Nov. 9-12 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

Photos courtesy Dusty Smith/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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What’s Open, What’s Closed on Labor Day

As we head into Labor Day weekend, here’s a look at some area closings and schedule adjustments for the holiday.

Public schools, library, county offices, the county’s animal shelter, General District Court, and Reston Community Center Hunters Woods and Lake Anne will be closed.

The Fairfax Connector will be operating on a Sunday schedule. Metrorail and Metrobus will also operate on a Sunday schedule, with off-peak fares in effect all day. Parking will be free at all Metrorail facilities.

Frying Pan Farm Park’s farm and indoor arena will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but its visitors center will remain closed. More information about county closures is available online.

Reston Association offices, the Central Services Facility and the nature house will close at noon today (Friday) and remain closed on Monday.

The pool schedule for the holiday weekend is below:

Glade, Lake Audubon, Lake Newport: Noon to 7 p.m.

North Shore, Ridge Heights: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In the town of Herndon, government offices will be closed. Recycling collection will be postponed from Monday to Tuesday. The town’s Labor Day festival is set from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the town green.

Photo via Ben White/Unsplash

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County to Limit Parking at Wiehle-Reston East Garage for Three Weeks

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Commuters who park at the Wiehle-Reston East garage may need to make alternative plans for parking beginning August 19.

The garage — which is often at capacity during peak commuter hours — is undergoing maintenance repairs. Up to forty spaces on parking levels G4, G5, and G6 will be taken away in order to make room for ongoing maintenance work.

In a release, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation said the garage is at capacity. Commuters should use other transportation options, including the Fairfax Connector, biking, walking and ride-sharing, the county stated.

The department offered the following transportation alternatives, including free parking at park and rides with bus service to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station:

From Herndon Monroe Park and Ride

From Reston South Park and Ride: 

From Reston Town Center Transit Station: 

  • Route 505 – Reston Town Center
  • Route 950 – Herndon-Reston
  • Route 981 – Dulles Airport-Udvar-Hazy Center-Wiehle-Reston East
  • Route 983 – Dulles Airport-Udvar-Hazy Center-Wiehle-Reston East
  • RIBS 1 – Lake Anne-Hunter Woods
  • RIBS 2 – South Lakes-North Point
  • RIBS 3 – Lake Anne-Hunter Woods

Other Routes to Wiehle:

  • Route 552 – Reston North: North Shore – Lake Fairfax 
  • Route 553 – Reston South: Viking – Pinecrest
  • Route 554 – Reston North: Wiehle Avenue – Center Harbor
  • Route 556 – Bennington Woods – Wiehle-Reston East

An FCDOT spokesperson said that standard maintenance of the garage is scheduled. Access to parking spaces will be restored by early September.

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Ahead of 2020 Opening, Herndon Metro Station Sign Installed

It’s official: the Herndon Metro Station is nearly complete.

This week, a sign marking the station was installed by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel met with WMATA officials on Monday, August 5 as part of a Silver Line bus tour.

The station is expected to open in July next year.

The town is working with the county to determine new bus routes with the Fairfax Connector once Metro trains are up and running.

Photo via Town of Herndon/Facebook

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Report: Here’s When the Silver Line Extension is Expected to Open

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has finally set a projected opening day for phase two of the Silver Line project.

WTOP reports that the authority hopes to open the six-station second phase from Wiehle-Reston East to Loudoun Gateway and Ashburn on July 16, 2020. Authority officials stressed the opening date was tentative and dependent on numerous factors.

Here’s more from WTOP:

“The current date to open the system to the public is July 16, 2020. That is our goal at this point, and we’re working very hard to meet it,” said Charles Stark, airports authority senior vice president for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

“It could be a few days earlier or a few days later. Nothing in the construction world is that exact, but you gotta have a goal, and that’s ours,” Stark said in an interview.

July 16, 2020, is a Thursday, so it is more likely that if construction sticks to the new schedule projections based on a statistical analysis and discussions with the contractors and Metro, the line would open the weekend before or after that.

Thus far, the opening of phase two has been delayed several times.

Metro will take roughly two months for final testing and employee training before it assumes ownership of the rail line from the authority.

The authority is currently in negotiations with contractors to determine the details of precise safety testing checklists for new stations, tracks and rail yards. The authority hopes to allow certain tests to be done simultaneously instead of sequentially in order to shave a significant amount of time off the schedule, according to the report.

Rail yard testing is expected to begin by the end of this year.

File photo

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Monday Morning Notes

Lane Closures on Sunset Hills Road — Closures are scheduled for eastbound Sunset Hills Road near the future Reston Town Center Metro station from today (Monday) through Wednesday. Crews are completing stormwater management work. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Metro Adds More Service Options — The price of four passes — the seven-day unlimited, the seven-day short trip, the seven-day regional bus and the one-day unlimited pass — will be lowered. A new option for a three-day unlimited pass will also be available. The service and affordable pass product changes begin today (Monday). [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Lake Anne Paddle Set for Friday — Registration for the event is $7 for Reston Association members and $9 for all others. Attendees will get a chance to canoe or kayak on Lake Anne with a naturalist. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

On-Demand Transportation for Metro Commuters — Metro just launched a new program to help late-night workers get around between midnight and 4 a.m. Qualified workers will receive a $3 subsidy toward a shared ride on Lyft beginning July 1. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

Sallie Mae Moving Northern Virginia Offices — “Sallie Mae moved its headquarters from Reston to Delaware in 2010, and has since reduced its leased space in Northern Virginia from 240,000 square feet to roughly 30,000, according to its most recent annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.” [Washington Business Journal]

Silver Line Delay Baffles MWAA — “The latest delays for Metro’s Silver Line construction have baffled the D.C. region’s airport authority, which is hopeful that the timeline for the commuter rail line’s extension to Dulles International Airport will speed up over the next few months.” [WTOP]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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