After a variety of issues and delays, Silver Line’s Phase Two is now aiming for completion in spring 2021.
Updates on the second phase of the Silver Line were briefly mentioned due to time constraints during the Transportation Committee yesterday. Phase Two will connect six new stations to the Wiehle-Reston East, bringing Metro riders out to Ashburn.
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said that he briefly talked to Paul Wiedefeld, the general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, last week.
“He assured me that — at least as of early last week — the Phase Two opening is still on track for next spring,” Alcorn said. “I’m sure there are probably a dozen ways that that can change, but for now, at least it is moving forward, according to that schedule.”
Phase Two is 98% complete overall, according to the presentation for Martha Elena Coello with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation.
- concrete panel deficiencies
- concrete ties/cross level deficiencies
- fouled ballast
- automatic train control
- insulated joints replacement
Work is expected to finish on the new rail, systems, stations and yard later this year or early 2021.
Recently, “substantial work” wrapped up on the garage at the Innovation Center Metro station, according to the presentation. The garage, which costs roughly $52 million, is 98% complete and awaiting its official occupancy permit, according to the presentation.
Bus loop work is expected to be done at the Herndon station garage this month.
The presentation also provided an update on the bus service plan for Phase Two. Currently, Fairfax County is seeking public input on the plan.
More from Fairfax Connector:
Welcome to the Reston-Herndon Area Bus Service Review final round of public input!… Fairfax Connector is considering a variety of options to improve bus service to, from, and around the new stations in Fairfax County.
Our previous round of outreach proposed three bus transit service alternatives, each with their own set of unique characteristics. We ranked the alternatives based on coverage, average travel times between key origin-destination pairs, and ridership potential (see right). We also listened to what Connector riders and nonriders had to say through several public meetings and an online survey. Based on feedback received, the preferred alternative presented today is cost-neutral, and includes the best elements of the three originally proposed scenarios and existing service.
After construction-related closures, commuters can expect several Silver Line stations to reopen ahead of schedule, according to a press release from the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority.
On August 16, WMATA plans to reopen the McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East stations along with the West Falls Church station.
“Assuming the platform work continues at its current pace, the remaining three west-of-Ballston stations (Vienna, Dunn Loring, and East Falls Church) are expected to reopen around Labor Day,” the press release added.
The timely completion of the projects can partially be contributed to the drop in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said, adding that ridership is down 90% from this time last year.
“Metro has been working to efficiently use track access time during a period of historically low ridership,” the press release said. “Earlier this year, the transit agency combined Orange Line platform reconstruction and Silver Line signal integration into a multi-month summer shutdown of the nine rail stations west of Ballston.”
Free shuttle busses will replace trains until the stations reopen, the press release said. “However, Vienna and Dunn Loring customers will be able to connect to Metrorail at West Falls Church, rather than Ballston,” according to the release.
Metro to Reopen 15 Stations — “Metro today announced that 15 rail stations that had been closed as part of the transit agency’s Covid-19 response will reopen on Sunday, June 28. In addition, beginning Monday, June 29, buses will be added to the system’s 14 busiest bus lines to provide more capacity and more frequent service as the region reopens.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Election Day is Today — Polls are open until 7 p.m on the ballot for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and Democratic primary for the U.S. House, district 11. Residents are reminded to wear a face-covering while voting. [Fairfax County Government]
Reston Startup Raises $5 Million — “Reston, Virginia-based careMESH, curator of a healthcare communications platform, has closed on a $5 million seed funding round led by Assurance Capital and Pavey Family Investments. Dr. Peter S. Tippett, founder and CEO of careMESH, launched the company four years ago with a mission to improve healthcare communications with technology by streamlining patient information and maintaining data privacy.” [Technical.ly]
Supplies Needed for Child Care Programs — “The Office for Children (OFC) is seeking donations to support child care programs countywide in providing essential services to children and families. Donated supplies will support healthy hygiene practices and help child care centers and family child care programs maintain a clean and healthy environment.” [Fairfax County Government]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Construction of the Silver Line extension into Loudoun County has cleared a major hurdle.
Crews with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority have begun the process of tying in the current Silver Line with the extension.
On Friday, crews began the tie-in process at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station, which would connect phase two’s computerized control systems to the rest of the Metrorail system.
Capital Rail Constructors, its subcontractors, the MWAA, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are cooperating to complete the effort.
“The tie-in project is critical and complicated work that requires close cooperation and coordination among contractors and WMATA,” said Charles Stark, MWAA senior vice president and head of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
The extension is expected to be fully operational in the spring. Currently, all five Silver Lien stations are closed during the summer shutdown.
Tie-in work will be completed by the end of July. After construction is completed, WMATA will assume ownership of phase two and conduct additional testing. A final date for completion of the overall project will be set at a later point.
“Months of preparation and coordination between Capital Rail Constructors, WMATA and the Airports Authority led to the initiation of the tie-in work, to ensure that software and other controls on both sections,” according to a statement from the Dulles Corridor Metro rail Project.
Once complete, the extension project will run along 11.5 miles of track from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn.
Herndon Man Arrested no Charge of Sexual Battery — Police arrested Javier Enrique on, 56, for misdemeanor sexual battery. According to the Herndon Police Department, Palma groped a woman who was walking on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail overpass in the 300 block of Herndon Parkway. Police are asking residents with information about other incidents to call 703-435-6846. [Herndon Police Department]
School Board Approves FY2021 Budget — “The Fairfax County School Board has approved the revised Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget. The budget, revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced the previously recommended transfer increase from Fairfax County from $85.5 million to $7.3 million and includes a reduction of $4.8 million from the state. Along with other budget cuts, the total amount of the FY 21 budget was reduced by $67.0 million.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
New Crime Show Features Reston-based Company — “A Northern Virginia tech company that combines advanced DNA analysis with old fashioned genealogy to help police departments solve crimes is seeing its work go to the small screen. ‘The Genetic Detective’ debuts on Tuesday night on ABC. It stars CeCe Moore, a genealogist who works with Reston, Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs to help police departments solve cold cases.” [WTOP]
Silver Line Service Officially Suspended — “Metro has suspended Silver Line service and closed nine stations in Northern Virginia from Memorial Day to fall, hoping to accelerate construction plans during the agency’s summer shutdown. WMATA already planned to close Vienna, Dunn Loring and East Falls Church stations this summer to reconstruct platforms.” [NBC4]
Photo by Beth Allgaier
As the Silver Line extension project continues through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Herndon’s Economic Development Manager Dennis Holste, reflected on the state of other local transportation projects and changes to the town at the public Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce metro meeting last night (May 18).
By 2021, he said that the Reston Town Center, Herndon and Innovation Station stops should be complete, but the plans for the new update bus routes for the Fairfax Connector are up in the air.
There are currently 30 routes being proposed for the Herndon community but these cannot be finalized until public forums are held, according to Holste.
“They were supposed to hold community meetings in late March and early April,” he said. “But obviously due to COVID they were postponed.”
Though no new dates have been set for these meetings, Holste said they will likely be hosted in late summer or fall.
Currently, a survey is circulating online allowing people to view the proposed bus routes and submit feedback on their thoughts.
Also brought up in the meeting, the new environmental remediation work in Downtown Herndon, which has been completed according to Holste.
“The next step would be demolition of the building,” he said. “I don’t have an exact date but it should be shortly.”
Maryland Man Arrested in Connection with Robbery — Police believe Ronald Smith, 46, assaulted a man while he was walking along Sunrise Valley Drive on May 14 at around 8:30 p.m. Smith, a Maryland resident, was charged with robbery and possession of marijuana. The victim had minor injuries. [Fairfax County Police Department]
Masks Required on Metro Starting Today — “Face coverings or masks be required when traveling on Metro effective Monday, May 18. The move strengthens Metro’s position on the matter, which has ‘strongly recommended’ the use of face coverings since early April.” [WMATA]
Greater Reston Arts Center Exhibit Reviewed — “For those looking for an introduction to the book art space, The Velocity of a Page covers ample ground. Others will be compelled to search out the book-makers for more. In fact, the way to get the most out of this exhibition is to leave it. This is something the curator seems to understand, and is perhaps why The Velocity of a Page is marketed as multi-platform.” [Hyper Allergic]
Photo by vantagehill/Flickr
Metro is taking advantage of low ridership and traffic-free highways to speed up work on the Silver Line.
A summer shutdown for the Silver Line will begin on Saturday, May 23 and continue through the fall. Metro is working on connecting the new stations in phase two of the Silver Line extension project, which is being built by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
“This is about two things: working smarter and working safer,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld. “Closing the stations to get the work done while ridership is historically low allows us to limit the exposure of our frontline staff and contractors, mitigate delays to our capital program, and minimize inconvenience to the public.”
All trains will begin and end service in Ballston and Orange Line service will run from Ballston to New Carrollton.
Free express and local shuttle bus service will be available for essential workers only. Shuttles will run every day and operate during the same hours as Metro (5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends).
Ridership has dipped to roughly 1,200 customers per weekday at stations west of Ballston due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo by Jay Westcott
Weird Brothers Adapts to Coronavirus — The local veteran-owned coffee shop has adapted to takeout curbside pick up and is offering local deliveries in the Herndon and Reston area. The owner says he’s seen a 50 percent drop in sales. [Patch]
Reston IT Company Names New CFO — “Reston-based information technology company Contegix announced Thursday that it has named Mike Dunn as its new chief financial officer. Dunn was most recently the CFO of systems integrator and managed hosting provider NeoSystems LLC.” [Virginia Business]
More Postponements for County Dockets — Although the Fairfax County Courthouse remains open, the Circuit Court, General District Court and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court have changed their bond and arraignment schedule until further notice. [Fairfax County Government]
Verisign Inc. Donates $500,00 — The Reston-based company has donated the money to Northern Virginia’s COVID-19 response fund “as part of a broader effort to support those in the region.” [Community Foundation for Northern Virginia]
Metro Scales Back Service — “Metro will operate significantly reduced rail and bus service on Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5, maintaining a core network of 27 “lifeline” bus routes and providing twice-hourly rail service on all lines for the region’s essential travel need.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Although Metro is currently cutting routes and closing stations due to COVID-19, planning continues for the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County.
Initially, officials estimated phase two of the project would open by the summer. After delaying the projected opening several times and by several months, Metro officials now say the first trains will not begin running until April 2021, according to budget documents.
The 11-mile extension, which includes six new stations, will provide service to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.
A vote on Metro’s $2.1 million operating budget for the overall system is set for Thursday. But changes could be enacted by June as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds in the region.
The proposal includes an increase in rush-hour rail fares, the restoration of some late-night service, and cuts to the number of bus routes.
Trains would run every 12 minutes instead of every eight minutes on all lines on weekdays between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Photo by Jay Westcott
Metro Services Limited to 26 Bus Routes — Metro is only running a core network of 26 bus routes and twice-hourly rail service only for the region’s “essential travel needs.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Local Unemployment Resources Available — Job seekers and employers in N. Virginia can access Virginia Career Works Centers, which offer a system of employment of training services through on-stop resource centers. Although the centers are closed, webinars, career coaching, and local labor market information is available. [Fairfax County Government]
Local Fire Station Demolished — Station 25 on Wiehle Avenue was officially demolished on Tuesday, making way for an upgraded facility that’s expected to open in May 2021. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]
Reminder: Voting Underway for Reston Association Election — The last day to cast a vote for the annual Board of Directors’ election is April 3, 2020 at 5 p.m. [Reston Association]
Blood Drives in Fire Station Parking Lots — “Several Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Volunteer Fire Departments are partnering with Inova Blood Donor Services to hold blood drives in their fire station parking lots. Due to current events, blood supplies in Fairfax County and the nation are at dangerously low levels and dropping.” [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department]
County Buildings to Close to Public — All government facilities and buildings will be closed to the public beginning Friday, March 27 at 5 p.m. The county government remains open for business online and by phone and email. [Fairfax County Government]
Metro Closes More Stations — “Metro’s Pandemic Task Force today announced the strategic closing of 17 additional stations, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, in an effort to conserve critical resources and protect the health and safety of Metro employees and the public. This follows drastic measures already taken to reduce travel on Metro to essential trips only, leading to a Metrorail ridership decline of 90 percent.” [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Economic Injury Loans for Small Businesses — Small businesses in the state can apply for low-interest Economic Injury Loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Businesses can get up to $2 million in working capital loans. [SBA]
Don’t Use Drug Take-Back Boxes — The boxes at the county’s police district stations will be closed until further notice to protect residents and first responders. [Fairfax County. Government]
Photo by Marjorie Copson
A long-awaited report by Metro’s Office of Inspector General flags new major concerns with the extension of the Silver Line into Loudoun County. It’s unclear if new issues will cause further delays for the long-awaited project, which is expected to open next year.
The 23-page report flags longstanding concerns and new issues that have arisen. The report cautions Metro from accepting the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which is in charge of construction — until problems have been resolved.
Specifically, the report finds that WMATA has had trouble ensuring that the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system is integrated between the first and second phases of the project.
“The unresolved issues with ATC system acceptance requirements create the potential for even more schedule delay beyond what is already reported. Additionally, these deficiencies do not engender confidence in system safety,” the report states.
Issues that have been long under discussion — such as issues with surge arresters, switches, and misplaced rail joints — are also discussed in the report.
Overall, the report finds two major issues: ineffectiveness and inconsistencies in the contractor’s efforts to ensure problem areas are addressed and the absence of an integrated approach to view the extension’s infrastructure from a holistic and outsider perspective.
The report does not delve into issues of cracks in concrete panels just yet. The Office of the Inspector General is working with an independent contractor to inspect each panel to determine its condition, according to the report. So far, the MWAA’s contractor has found cracks in 24 panels.
It’s possible the latest report could delay Metro’s opening even further. Officials expect it to open in the spring.
Staff photo by Jay Scott
More Time for Metro Budget Comments — Metro has extended the public comment period for the next fiscal year’s budget by one week. Feedback will be accepted online or by mail through 9 a.m. on Monday, March 9. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]
Search for Lifeguards Underway — Reston Association is actively recruiting lifeguards for the summer. Information on the position and the application is available online. [Reston Association]
Local Students Compete in International Conference — A total of 226 students from 14 Fairfax County Public Schools were selected as finalists for the DECA International Career Development Conference in Nashville. [FCPS]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
More Delays for Phase Two of the Silver Line — Yes, you read that right. Originally expected to open in 2016, the extension of Metro’s Silver Line likely won’t open until the spring of 2021, according to general manager Paul Wiedefeld. [WJLA]
Reston Association Phone Service Down Later Today — If you’re trying to reach RA offices later today, you might want to try again. Phone service will be down between 5:30-6:30 p.m. today (Friday) and on Tuesday (Feb. 25) from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The organization is moving to Verizon. [Reston Association]
County Schools to Host Free Sessions on Digital Learning — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students, families, and community members are invited to attend any of five upcoming digital learning and digital citizenship events. All sessions are being held free of charge.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Staff photo by Jay Westcott