Silver Line Phase II Likely to open in May of 2022
By Justin George
09 09 2021 1825 EDT
A Metro sign points to the yet-to-be-opened Ashburn station on the long-delayed Silver Line extension. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Metro officials said Thursday that construction of the Silver Line’s second phase could be complete in November, paving the way for a possible opening of the long-delayed project during the first part of next year.
Construction of the nearly 11-mile extension would bring rail service from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station to Dulles International Airport and through to Ashburn. The latest estimate for opening comes after the project has been plagued by issues, including misaligned track and weak concrete panels, that have delayed its opening by nearly two years.
Andrew Off, Metro’s vice president of the Rail Operations Control Center and Strategic Transformation, told Metro board members that the transit agency was told the $5.8 billion project is scheduled for “substantial completion” in November, at which point Metro could take ownership after it determines the extension is ready for operations. Capital Rail Constructors is handling construction, which is being overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
While Metro officials did not give board members an expected opening date, transit officials repeatedly have said they could test for about two months before taking possession of phase two, then another three months to open the line, which includes six new stations.
The airports authority still forecasts fourth quarter of this calendar year as declaring substantial completion,” Off said.
Keith Couch, project executive for Capital Rail Constructors, said in a statement that the company is targeting substantial completion for the last quarter of this year. MWAA officials, however, said Thursday they could not predict a timeline for that designation.
MWAA spokeswoman Marcia McAllister said the authority is waiting for results of testing of the automated train control system scheduled in late October — a test that will require the temporary closure of the Wiehle-Reston East station — to “tie in” both phases of the Silver Line.
“At this point we do not have a completion date planned,” she said.
The previous date by which the project was to have met “substantial completion” was Labor Day. But MWAA scuttled that projection because it said upcoming tests were essential.
Off said MWAA began testing trains and the train control system late last month, which he called a “major milestone.”
“Once substantial completion is declared, we enter an undefined — in time — period called operational readiness testing,” Off said. “This is our opportunity to complete and witness and document all tests.”
Although the project’s contractor has estimated the testing period would last about 60 days, Off said the transit agency can take the time it needs to make sure the extension is ready to operate. Once satisfied with testing, Metro would take custody and control. The transit agency would need about 90 days to make final preparations necessary to open the extension.
Joseph Leader, Metro’s chief operating officer, said hiring is underway to staff the extension.
By the end of August, Metro had put 154 employees through orientation. Hiring, Leader said, is accelerating as the transit agency seeks to fill 468 positions between now and the extension’s opening.
Metro officials said two significant construction issues are unresolved between Metro and MWAA, and Off said he and Leader are meeting with the airports authority twice a week to address them. They include a clearance issue within elevator machine rooms and a deficiency with a train turntable at a service and inspection building, both at the Dulles rail yard.
The remainder of the story report is about the Blue/Orange/Silver Capacity & Reliability Study
(10.1 MB PDF file) 09 03 2021 1723
And the balking at the 25 billion price tag.
John in the sand box of Maryland's eastern shore.