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Private Contractors Likely to Operate Silver Line’s Second Phase

Private contractors are likely to operate and maintain the six new stations that are part of the Silver Line extension project that runs from Wiehle-Reston East into Loudoun County

In an announcement on Tuesday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it has issued a request for proposals in order to seek private contractors who can operate and maintain the new stations, trains, and facilities.

WMATA said the move was necessary in order to control operating and maintenance costs, including future pension costs, which it says have “grown to unsustainable levels.”

“We are leaving no stone unturned as we look for opportunities to maintain transit service for the region and protect jobs, all while living within our means in light of what our funding jurisdictions can afford,” said Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld. 

Bids are due on Jan. 15 and a contract will be awarded in the spring.

Officials said the move will not result in job losses for Metro’s current workforce. They also noted that transit agencies in Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, and Beijing have had success in contracting some or all rail services through public-private partnerships, resulting in “improved on-time performance, reliability, operating efficiencies and cost savings.’

The Silver Line extension project is tentatively scheduled to open in 2020.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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A First Look at Metro’s Next Generation of Rail Cars

Metro is offering a glimpse into its next generation of rail cars, which are similar to the stainless steel 7000-series launched three years ago.

On Tuesday (September 5), Metro announced it has begun the procurement process for the 8000-series, which will replace the 2000- and 3000-series cars, which went into service more than 10 years ago. Trains are needed to meet expanding service, especially as the expansion of the Silver Line to Dulles Airport and into Loudoun County comes closer to fruition.

Departing from previous ideas, which included open, raised platforms to reduce overcrowding, heated floors and onboard WiFi, the latest plans are similar to the 7,000-series currently in operating. New features include new digital advertising screens, support for remote PA announcements, digital system mats, 110-volt power outlets to charge electronic devices and more lighting, floor markings and signage for ADA areas.

“Today Metro is beginning the multi-year process of acquiring our next railcar fleet, which will take everything our customers love about 7000-series trains and build upon that success,” Wiedefeld said in a statement. “I would take this opportunity to again thank our local jurisdictions — Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia — for creating a dedicated capital funding source for Metro that has made this possible,” according to a statement by Metro.

Metro has issued a formal request for proposals, which will close in late January. A contract will be awarded sometime next year. The contract calls for purchasing up to 800 cars, including options to run more trains during rush hour, and retiring the 6000-series fleet. The new trains are expected to be in service in 2024.

Photos via Washington Metropolitan Area Authority

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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 closing for the holiday. 

Public schools, libraries, county offices, the county’s animal shelter, Circuit Court, General District Court, and Reston Community Center will be closed.

Fairfax Connector bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule. The Metrorail system will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will also run on a Sunday schedule. Parking will be free at Metro parking facilities and off-peak fares will be in effect. Metrobus will also run on a Sunday schedule.

Most county parks will be open. Frying Pan Farm Park is open but the visitor’s center will be closed. Reston Association offices, including the Central Services Facility and the Walker Nature Center, will also be closed, but RA pools will be open on Labor Day weekend. 

The hours of pools are as follows:

  • North Shore heated pool & spa: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Ridge Heights heated pool: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Lake Newport 50-meter pool: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All Reston Association offices, including the Nature House and Central Services Facility, will be closed Monday, Sept. 3.

Photo via DKrebs Via Flickr Creative Commons

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Over Two Days, Metro Trains Travel on Wrong Tracks

Twice in the last two days, Metro trains ended up on the wrong line, with a Blue line train coming onto the Orange Line and a Silver Line train coming onto the Blue Line.

On Monday, a Silver Line train diverted to the Arlington Cemetery station on the Blue Line, a routing issue that Metro officials said was called by signal problems. The next day, a Blue line train bound for Franconia-Springfield was misdirected to the Court House station on the Orange and Silver lines.

Metro is attempting to take corrective action to prevent similar issues in the future.

Over the weekend, an eight-car Silver Line train bound for McLean completely separated into segments of five and three cars. The incident happened on Saturday at around 10:45 a.m. Roughly 70 passengers were on the train when the issue occurred. No injuries were reported.

More from social media:

File photo

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Sharing common ground — Fairfax County officials have launched a new newsletter to keep the interfaith community informed of events and opportunities in the area. [Fairfax County Government]

Missing man found — Hassan Sultan, a 48-year-old missing endangered adult, was found today. He was last seen in the 2000 block of Maleady Drive in Herndon. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Problems with Alexandria’s Potomac Yard station — As the Silver Line makes its way into Virginia, there are some lessons to be learned about the need for well-designed entrances and information displays. [Washingtonian]

A hitchhiker on a Lake Anne boat (Photo by Beth Allgaier).

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Metro Officials: “Only Use Metro If You Have No Other Option”

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials are encouraging riders of the Orange, Blue and Silver Lines to use Metro “only if you have no other option.” A partial Blue Line shutdown and major delays on two other Lines are planned this weekend.

Beginning tomorrow (Saturday) until August 26, Orange and Silver Line trains will run every 20 minutes and Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery. No Blue Line services will be available in DC or Maryland.

WMATA urges commuters to brace for major delays and crowding. Metro’s rush hour promise will not be in effect for trips on the Orange, Blue or Silver Lines.

Crews are scheduled to rebuild track infrastructure, install new rail, new fasteners and repair concrete pads that support rails. Each track will be worked on one week at a time so that single-track service can be maintained, according to WMATA.

In a statement posted to their website, WMATA posted the following information about travel alternatives:

  • Commuters between Virginia and the district should use the yellow line.
  • Use the Yellow Line and transfer to and from the Orange or Silver Lines at L’Enfant Plaza.
  • Use the Red, Yellow or Green Line stations if they’re within walking distance of your destination.
  • Consider riding select trains on the VRE Manassas Line or VRE Fredericksburg line to Crystal City, L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station
  • Take the MARC Penn Line (via New Carrollton) or the MARC Camden Line (via Greenbelt) downtown.
  • Consider bus alternatives. See breakdown online.
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Reston Association to Hold Information Session on Bus and Metro Services

Need some extra help getting around? Reston Association is hosting an information session on how to ride the bus and Metro.

The event, set for August 16 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will offer attendees a hands-on learning experience. Participants will ride the Mobile Accessible Travel Training bus and get tips on reading bus schedules, route maps, calculating and paying fares, and other skills.

The bus will then stop at a Silver Line Metro Station, where participants will learn how to determine fares, buy Metrorail fare cards, load SmarTrip cards and read the rail system map.

The event is free. Attendees will meet on the training bus, which will be parked on the southwestern corner of the parking lot of the Reston Association (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive).

File photo

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Metro Alert: Orange and Silver Line Delays Expected This Weekend

As major track improvements continue on Metro, riders of the Orange, Silver and Blue Lines should expect delays this weekend.

On Saturday (August 11) and Sunday (August 12), Farragut West, McPherson Square and Metro Center’s lower level will be closed. Orange and Silver Line trains will run every 12 to 15 minutes outside the shutdown area. All Orange and Silver Line trains will end at Foggy Bottom.

Blue Line trains will run between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery only. All other stations will be open. Shuttle buses will replace trains between Foggy Bottom and Federal Triangle stations.

A “Unite the Right” rally and counterdemonstrations planned for Sunday afternoon near the White House could also make the commute more challenging. According to a statement, Metro will “be prepared to add trains as needed to address crowding if necessary.” Access to some stations due to overcrowding on the platform may be restricted by Metro Transit Police.

Photo by Mike Heffner

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Thursday Morning Notes

Take note, Metro users — Two summer capital improvement projects will disrupt service on the Red, Orange, Blue and Silver lines. During a 10-day period, riders are encouraged to use Metro only if absolutely necessary. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority]

If you have Verizon — An outage is affecting 911 and ten-digit dialing. County residents should text 911 from a Verizon phone as an alternate. [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department]

Savor the flavor — A local news outlet offers a recap of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Reston event, the largest outdoor food festival in the area. [The Connection]

And then savor this flavor — Reston Association will host a wine tasting at the Lake House on Saturday from 3:30-5 p.m. [Reston Association]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Tuesday Morning Notes

First Look: Wegmans — Wegmans is coming to Brookfield Properties’ four million-square-foot redevelopment of the 36-acre Reston Crescent site. In a recently submitted proposed to Fairfax County, The first new building will feature an urban-style Wegmans resting underneath 380 apartment units. [Washington Business Journal]

Dump the pump — Local officials want drivers to dump the pump and hop onto public transit on Thursday. Are you up for the challenge? [Fairfax County Government]

Artificial intelligence 2.0 — “NCI Inc. is pushing to bring more artificial intelligence to government customers to help them boost efficiency and save money. The Reston contractor is starting to sell Shai, or Scaling Humans with Artificial Intelligence.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ken Plum fundraiser — The state delegate is raising money for his campaign. A breakfast-style fundraiser is slated for tomorrow with tickets ranging from $35 to $1,000 each. [Ken Plum]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Delays Expected at Entrance of Wiehle-Reston East Garage

Commuters using the Wiehle-Reston East garage should expect delays this week.

Construction equipment is being delivered to the site from today through Friday (June 22), causing delays of up to 10 minutes.

Delays are only expected to impact the entrance and exit of the Wiehle-Reston East Park & Ride garage.

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Monday Morning Notes

Greats Falls and Reston soccer merge — “The Reston Soccer Association and Great Falls Soccer Club merged in March of this year, combining to form one club of around 2,600 players. The merger has been a subject of discussion for years now, but only recently came to fruition after careful coordination between members of the Reston and Great Falls Boards of Directors.” [The Connection]

Be wary when going outside today — An air quality alert has been issued for today. The heat index could climb into the high 90s or even the low 100s. [National Weather Service]

Herndon’s high hopes for Metro — “The town is preparing for an unprecedented amount of high-density development around the Silver Line’s new Herndon Metro station slated to open in 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Fireworks and family fun — “Lake Fairfax Park will host its annual fireworks show on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Rain date July 1, 2018). Come to the park early and spend the day. The park opens at 7 a.m.” [Fairfax County Government]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Track Work to Cause Delays on the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines This Weekend

Build some extra time into your plans if you’re planning to take the Orange, Silver or Blue line this weekend.

Trains on all three lines will travel 24 miles apart. Silver Line trains will run only between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston, Blue Line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery and Orange line trains will single track between Foggy Bottom and Arlington Cemetery.

The service changes are necessary in order to allow crews to install cables and communications equipment on the Blue and Orange lines, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Authority.

Customers should use Orange and Blue lines to complete their trip. At Ballston, customers should transfer between Silver and Orange line trains on the same platform.

Photo by Mike Heffner

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Friday Morning Notes

Neuro-witchcraft —  “A judge on Thursday appointed two brain experts to evaluate a man facing the death penalty in the slaying of a teenage Muslim girl last year, despite the objections of a prosecutor who derided the requests as “neuro-witchcraft.” Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows agreed to the appointments of a neuropsychologist and neurotoxicologist to evaluate Darwin Martinez-Torres, 23, of Sterling, who faces charges including capital murder and rape in the June killing of Nabra Hassanen of Reston.” [WTOP]

More Metro inspections — New federal inspections find old Metro problems still persist, including several “code black” track conditions. [The Washington Post]

Stateside: On the front lines — Nurses are on the front lines in battling the opioid epidemic. One nurse says most of her patients are homeless. [The Connection]

Photo by Ressa Blair

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Water-logged tunnels found in all Metro lines— “While standing water, clogged drains, debris around cables and tunnel leaks were found on all Metro lines, Federal Transit Administration inspectors found the most significant problems on the Red Line, according to three months of newly released inspection reports.” [WTOP]

Newly surfaced interview with Bob Simon — Sam Moyer interviewed Reston founder Bob Simon when Moyer was nine. Now 27, Moyer reflects on the interview. [Fairfax County Times]

No golfing around — Rescue Reston, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving Reston’s open space, provides an update on efforts to protect Hidden Creek Country Club. [Rescue Reston]

Happening nearby: Nine-year-old boy dies in school accident — “FCPD officers say a 9-year-old boy has died after an accident at Franconia Elementary School on May 19. The boy, who was in the School Age Child Care (SACC) program at his school on Beulah Road, was in the gym at about 4:45.  The child, Wesley Lipicky, and a teacher, both simultaneously pressed a button to open a large, motorized room partition that splits in the middle.” [Fairfax County Times]

Photo by Ralph Tartaglione

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