Approximately seven miles of the Dulles International Airport Access Highway going westbound will be closed this weekend (Sept. 11 and 12) for maintenance work on pedestrian bridges.
Starting just east of Reston at mile marker 8.3, traffic will be diverted to the left lane of the Dulles Toll Road. Drivers will be able to enter the airport access road again at mile marker 1.7, near the Route 28 toll plaza and right past the soon-to-be-opened Innovation Center Station.
Ramps at mile marker 9 and 3.3 for the westbound portion of the airport access highway will also be closed.
The closures will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
All work is weather-dependent, though weather does not appear it will be a factor this weekend.
This work is being done by contractor Capital Rail Constructors as part of its preparations for the opening of Silver Line Phase 2, a Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority official says.
A weekend was chosen to conduct the maintenance work in the hopes of minimizing the closure’s impact on traffic, the MWAA official notes.
Photo via MWAA
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
A newly proposed timeline for Silver Line Phase 2 pushes the date for substantial completion of the project to May 19, 2022, nearly one month later than previously suggested.
The date comes from contractor Capital Rail Constructors and was included in the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s July monthly report, which was finished on Aug. 26 and released on Wednesday (Sept. 1).
Like before, MWAA says in its report that it disagrees with the contractor’s projected “longest path” timeline.
“Based on the remainder of work to be accomplished, the Airports Authority believes that the Substantial Completion date can be accomplished within Q4 2021,” the report says.
The business was contractually obligated to complete the project in August 2019, MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister said.
A phase known as Level F testing began this week and could last several weeks, she said. While components work on their own, this process helps ensure that the entire system works together.
“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,” Keith Couch, project executive for Capital Rail Constructors, said in a statement.
The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station was shut down for a weekend in late June so workers could tie together the Silver Line’s first and second phases, but some tests were not completed over those two days, so another outage is needed.
WMATA says it typically provides information about planned track work about eight weeks in advance. As of today (Friday), no notice about a Wiehle station shutdown has been posted.
While the new timeline extends the substantial completion date from April 21 to May 19, Capital Rail Constructors suggested that the completion could shift to this year.
“While based on the information available at this time our schedule shows a May 2022 substantial completion date, there are opportunities through collaboration with MWAA and WMATA to improve on that date and complete the project by October of this year,” Couch said in the statement.
Matt Letourneau, a Loudoun County supervisor on the WMATA board of directors, said yesterday (Thursday) at a Northern Virginia Transportation Commission meeting that despite the contractor placing the substantial completion date into 2022, the Airports Authority has not changed its fall 2021 timeline.
The $2.8 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle station westward to Ashburn in Loudoun County, adding six new stations along the Dulles Toll Road.
Substantial completion represents the moment when MWAA will be ready to hand the 23-mile extension over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Officials previously expected Metro to take control of the project by Labor Day, but MWAA admitted in early July that it won’t make that deadline.
After the substantial completion, it will still take at least half a year before the line can begin operating publicly, since Metro needs to conduct its own testing, training, and other activities, a WMATA presentation in July noted.
Preliminary construction for Phase 2 began in 2014. It was originally supposed to open in 2018.
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W&OD Trail Near Wiehle Reopens After Utility Work — The Washington & Old Dominion Trail has reopened east of Wiehle Avenue in Reston after closing earlier this summer so Dominion Energy could relocate overhead electric transmission lines. The utility work was necessary to prepare the site for construction on a pedestrian bridge over Wiehle that’s expected to begin next summer. [The W&OD Trail/Twitter]
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Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
(Updated at 9:05 a.m. on 8/5/21) A new report reveals that there’s significant disagreement between the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and its contractor, Capital Rail Constructors (CRC), about when Silver Line Phase 2 is expected to be completed.
Released publicly yesterday (Aug 3), MWAA’s June monthly report on the project says that CRC is forecasting a substantial completion date of April 21, 2022 for the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line extension.
However, in its monthly report, MWAA says it “disagrees” with the timeline laid out by CRC and believes the remaining work that needs to be completed “can be accomplished in significantly less time.”
The airports authority believes the work can be finished “within Q4 2021,” according to the report.
About six months is needed between substantial completion and for the system to open to complete testing and “pre-revenue activities,” according to a Metro presentation from last month.
This means that, if the project follows CRC’s timeline, Silver Line Phase 2 won’t officially open until late October 2022 at the earliest, a year-long delay compared to what was announced earlier in 2021.
Even MWAA’s preferred timeline would still push the start of service back to May or June 2022.
MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister says the authority remains “hopeful” that the contractor can complete the necessary work by the end of this year. She explained that both the contractor and MWAA make timeline estimates based on “their own knowledge base, but just come up with different results.”
“We will continue to work with them, talk to them, and encourage them to speed up the work they are doing,” McAllister said.
Keith Couch, project executive for Capital Rail Constructors, told Reston Now that the contractor group is open to discussing with MWAA about how to move the project quicker and get it done by late 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 wrote in a statement. “While based on the information available at this time our schedule shows an April 2022 substantial completion date, there are opportunities through collaboration with MWAA and WMATA to improve on that date and complete the project by later this year.”
One of the tasks that still needs to be completed is the full connection of Phase 2 to Silver Line Phase 1, which opened in 2014. The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station was shut down for a weekend in June so crews could work on the linkage, but the task wasn’t completed.
MWAA has said that an additional shutdown is needed to complete that work. Dates for that shutdown have yet to be announced.
McAllister says MWAA is working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to find dates that work for all, but the two agencies have yet to make a determination on when the second Wiehle station shutdown might happen.
According to MWAA’s monthly report, CRC has proposed a timeline where the Phase I integration work will be completed in October.
The timeline disagreement is another wrinkle in the long-running saga of the $2.8 billion public transportation project to extend Metro from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
“We really, really want to get this project done as soon as possible,” McAllister said. “We understand the community’s needs to have Silver Line Phase 2 open.”
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Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
The Labor Day deadline for “substantial completion” of Silver Line Phase 2 won’t be met, Metro staff acknowledged at a Board of Directors safety and operations committee meeting today (Thursday).
The presentation confirmed what the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) told Fairfax County earlier this month.
At this point, it remains unknown when the project will be substantially completed and able to be turned over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The expected delay will likely push the opening date even further back.
“There hasn’t been a new substantial completion day published [by MWAA],” said Andy Off, Metro’s vice president of project implementation and construction. “But we are confident it’s going to get moved past Labor Day.”
The latest delay of the $2.8 billion public transportation project stems from the need for more testing and work to tie Silver Line’s first and second phases together. That will require another shutdown of Wiehle-Reston East Metro station, much like the one that happened late last month.
“There are specific tests that were not completed over that weekend that necessitated a further shutdown,” Off said. “We are currently working with MWAA to schedule that.”
Reston Now reached out to MWAA about when that station shutdown will happen but has to hear back as of publication.
Off assured committee members that the delay has nothing to do with concrete issues or any other major safety concern.
“Right now, it’s really an IT project as it relates to our signal infrastructure,” Off said.
Once the Wiehle-Reston East outage gets scheduled and the work is completed, Off said there will be a better idea of a substantial completion date, with “fall” being as specific as he can get at this juncture.
Metro will need about six months from substantial completion to complete testing and “pre-revenue activities,” including trainings and further testing, which is contractually obligated to take no longer than 90 days, according to a presentation to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors transportation committee last month.
A Labor Day hand-off would have put Silver Line Phase 2 on track to open in the first quarter of 2022, but now, operations likely won’t begin until later that year. The project will extend Metro from Reston into Loudoun County with six new stations.
At the WMATA board committee meeting, officials emphasized that this delay is unrelated to any problem. There’s simply a need for more testing time.
“It’s not unusual to have several tests planned and just not have the amount of time as you need,” rail safety expert Devin Rouse, who’s on the Metro board, said. “If anything significant does come up, that’s a discussion we really need to have. At this point, this is normal for these types of projects.”
While officials have downplayed this particular delay, it follows a long line of Silver Line Phase 2 holdups that have frustrated residents and businesses waiting for the multi-billion-dollar public transporation project, which was initially set to open in 2018.
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Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station will be closed this weekend (June 25-26) so workers can connect the first and second phases of the Silver Line.
Most of the work being done this weekend is electrical and technological, as opposed to construction, says Marcia McAllister, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
“The work to be done this week by MWAA and CRC (our contractor) will make the permanent power connections between Phase 2 and the existing WMATA system,” wrote McAllister in an email to Reston Now. “This connection is at the Wiehle-Reston station which is the current end of the Silver Line.”
Additional testing will also be done this weekend.
Metro will provide free shuttle buses throughout the weekend to transport passengers between Wiehle-Reston East and the Spring Hill station in Tysons, the closest stop on the Silver Line, MWAA says.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has called the task of connecting the two phases of its Silver Line rail a major benchmark and potential challenge of the project.
McAllister noted that this closure is an expected part of the process as MWAA prepares to hand over the project to WMATA in September.
Another outage — meaning potential additional closures — will be needed prior to that fall turnover, writes McAllister, but a date for that has yet to be determined.
“At this time, this weekend’s shutdown at Wiehle-Reston East is the only closure scheduled during the next 8 weeks with regard to Silver Line Phase 2,” Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly told Reston Now.
Silver Line Phase 2 appears to be still on track to open in the first quarter of 2022, though officials previously cautioned that the timeline is subject to change.
The long-delayed $2.8 billion project originally had a completion date of 2018. But design changes, defective panels, contractor issues, flawed rail ties, and bad concrete all contributed to the nearly four-year delay, which has tested the patience of some local businesses in Herndon and Reston.
Silver Line Phase 2 remains on track to open in the first quarter of 2022, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority says.
In an update on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project issued on Monday (May 17), the agency says it is “confident” that construction will be finished “around Labor Day,” at which point the long-delayed $2.8 billion project will finally be handed off to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
If that happens as planned, WMATA will begin conducting “operational readiness testing.” That step includes more inspections, trainings, delivery of spare parts, certifications, and the correction of any issues.
That process should take two months if there are no outstanding issues, according to a Metro presentation on Silver Line Phase 2’s progress from March.
After that, there will be “pre-revenue activities,” including more trainings, testings, and the issuing of safety certifications. That step could take up to 90 days.
Putting all of that together, that leaves five months between when WMATA receives the project and when Silver Line Phase 2 and its six stations — Reston Town Center, Herndon, Innovation Center, Dulles Airport, Loudoun Gateway, and Ashburn — would officially open.
If WMATA does receive the project on Labor Day from MWAA, that puts a potential opening for revenue services and operation in early February 2022.
Of course, not all of this is guaranteed. MWAA says the timeline is “subject to change depending on the Airports Authority’s final completion date and the results of complex testing that are needed for Metro operations.”
What’s more, MWAA notes that the contractors building the tracks and the Phase 2 rail yard and maintenance facility have both missed deadlines.
“Each contractor missed its respective contract completion date but is striving to be ready for a September turnover,” the update says.
The contractors “knows what needs to be done,” says project head Charles Stark, who is retiring in July.
One of the major challenges of the project right now is connecting Phase 2 with Silver Line Phase 1, particularly west of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station. Doing this will require shutting down service at the station for a period of time that could come as soon as early summer.
Reston Now reached out to WMATA to learn more about the timeline and duration of this shutdown, but has yet to hear back as of publication.
A number of elements of the project have been completed in recent months.
The complex stormwater control system, which delayed the project more than a full year, is now finished, along with the 300-plus glass panel windscreen at the Dulles Airport Metro station.
Dulles Airport station’s pedestrian tunnel now has moving existing sidewalks as well as an exhibit showing the history of the Dulles area.
Last month, Metro approved a $4.7 billion budget that officially delayed Silver Line Phase 2 to 2022 but prevented potential very consequential service cuts.
Photo courtesy Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is confident enough in the pace of construction on the second phase of Metro’s Silver Line that the project’s leader plans to retire on Independence Day — two months before the agency anticipates finishing its work.
MWAA Senior Vice President Charles Stark has announced that he will retire on July 4, Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project spokesperson Marcia McAllister confirmed to Reston Now. The Washington Post first reported the news yesterday (Monday).
Now 72 years old, Stark has served as executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project since August 2014, overseeing the ambitious but oft-delayed 11.4-mile extension of Metro’s Silver Line from Reston to Ashburn through the Washington Dulles International Airport.
McAllister says Stark has decided to retire this summer, because construction on the rail line is now “99 percent complete,” and the project will soon be “moving toward testing which will lead to transfer of the project to WMATA.”
MWAA announced earlier this month that it expects the Silver Line to be ready for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to take over by Labor Day in early September.
“We are confident that team is in place to make that happen,” MWAA reiterated in a new statement.
Silver Line phase two will add six stations to the transit system, including one at Reston Town Center and two in the Herndon area. The project has been plagued by construction issues since work began in 2014.
Budget challenges stemming from depressed ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic also had Metro raising the idea of keeping some of the new Silver Line stations closed even after starting operations, presumably next year, though a new wave of federal relief will likely avert that possibility.
WMATA says it has no concerns about Stark’s impending retirement affecting the Silver Line project.
“We look forward to continuing to work with MWAA towards resolution of the remaining issues and acceptance of the project,” Metro spokesperson Ian Janetta said.
MWAA CEO Jack Potter commended Stark for his “leadership in bringing this large, complex project to this stage.
“We wish him all the best in his mid-summer retirement,” Potter said.
Photo by Chuck Samuelson/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project
Updated at 4:30 pm — By Labor Day weekend, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will be ready to handoff the second phase of the Silver Line project to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Today’s announcement comes after nearly a year of delays for the project, which adds new stations from Reston to Loudoun County. Major construction issues, including the quality of concrete panels, caused significant concerns in recent months.
But now Charles Stark, senior Vice President of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, said major progress has been made.
“Recent progress on outstanding issues has put us in a position to establish a target date for substantial completion and will enable Metro to solidify its plans for final testing, training and starting passenger service.” Stark wrote in a statement.
But a spokeswoman for Metro cautioned that Merro will ultimately determine if it will accept the project.
“Today’s announcement enables Metro to begin planning and budgeting for the start of service in early 2022. As MWAA achieves substantial completion, Metro will be testing, conducting system safety certification, and recruiting and training employees to get ready for passenger service,” wrote Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld
The project is currently being managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Phase two extends the line to Loudoun County and includes six new stations and a rail maintenance facility.
This comes as Metro considers closing down three of the newly-opened stations early next year due to drastic budget cuts and dips in ridership.
Cash will no longer be accepted at the Dulles Toll Road beginning next year.
The decision, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, was made in response to customers’ preferences for electronic toll payments, according to a statement released yesterday by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
No loose change will be accepted and tollbooth change baskets will be removed as part of the permanent move.
Here’s more information from MWAA on acceptable forms of payment:
Any lane can be used with a valid E-ZPass account or other form of electronic tolling. Customers can visit E-ZPass Virginia for information on how to obtain an E-ZPass. If toll-lane cameras identify a license plate associated with an E-ZPass account, that account will be charged for the transaction even if an E-ZPass is not present in the vehicle.
To make it easier to get an E-ZPass, the minimum opening account balance has been temporarily reduced to $20 per transponder (from $35) for online and phone applications. E-Z Pass also offers a reloadable Virginia E-Z Pass Card, these can be purchased your local CVS Pharmacy and 7-11 Convenience Stores.
Motorists passing through all toll plaza lanes without electronic payment will be sent a payment notice by mail. Missed tolls which are paid within six days of the violation will not be charged an administrative fee. Customers are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Transportation’s online toll violation payment website for information on proactively paying missed tolls.
In early April, manual toll collecting was suspended in response to COVID-19. All personnel from toll boots were removed and cash-exchange toll collections were suspended.
Electronic tolling became the preferred method of payment in 2003, when more than $18 million was collected with E-ZPass, compared to roughly $17 million collected in cash that calendar year.
In 2017, roughly $130 million was collected via E-ZPass while nearly $18 million was collected by cash, according to a 2018 study by the MWAA.
Image via Google Maps
Ever since the Federal Aviation Administration rolled out NextGen — a new system to modernize its air traffic control systems — communities across the country have complained about increased airplane noise in areas where it previously did not persist.
Recently, Reston, and Herndon residents have raised concerns about airplane noise on social media. It’s possible that the FAA has indeed changed flight paths, which could be leading to complaints.
NextGen ditches radio in favor of GPS to guide planes and digital communication. Flight paths are narrower and at lower altitudes as a result.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority tells Reston Now they’ve seen no recent rise in complaints. While we’re awaiting a response from the FAA, we’d love to hear from you.
Have you seen a change in airplane noise in your neighborhood? You can also email us at [email protected] to provide information about what’s happening in your area.
Photo via Unsplash