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Following the second surge associated with SafeTrack, Metro service on the Orange, Silver, and Blue lines from the Eastern Market to Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road stops reopened on July 4, just in time for the holiday festivities and crowds.
Today, Metro says the work required by the closure of that track-segment has brought the “key junction” along it into “a state of good repair.” The transit agency has released its preliminary progress report on SafeTrack 2, which shows that all critical maintenance scheduled over the course of the 16-day surge was completed by July 3. Metro’s primary goal was to replace or fix “four major switches that allow trains to move from one track to another at the D&G Junction” nearby Stadium–Armory. Metro adds that it renewed more than 250 cross-ties, 230 insulators, and 12 signals as well as inspected 180 power cables.
“I am satisfied that we are accomplishing our objectives with respect to the pace of track work progress in Surge #2,” Paul Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager, said in a statement. “Our continued success depends upon Metro customers heeding the warnings about reduced service during SafeTrack surges and finding alternate ways to commute. I am optimistic as we get underway now with Surge #3,” which directly impacts the Blue and Yellow lines near National Airport.
In total, SafeTrack entails 15 surges and is set to wrap up next March. The second phase necessitated the closure of the Stadium–Armory and Potomac Avenue stations, disrupting some 61,000 weekday trips. Metro says riders adjusted, with 74 percent fewer trips east of the Surge 2 work-zone between June 21 and the same Tuesday in 2015.
Still, in the handful of days since the affected segments of the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines have come back into service, Metrorail’s Twitter has reported a few problems for commuters near Stadium–Armory, including signal and switch problems.
Asked to comment on these since-resolved incidents in light of SafeTrack 2, a spokesperson for Metro said the plan doesn’t address railcar-infrastructure issues, but other efforts (such as bringing new trains into service) are ongoing simultaneously.
“It is not unheard of to have signals requiring adjustment after new switches are installed, and that’s likely what we’re seeing here,” the spokesperson said. “The systems are interlocked (a switch problem can be a signal problem and vice-versa), and will default to their safest condition if there is an issue. That can cause brief delays as trains get individual, verbal permission [to proceed]—but it is about safety.”
SafeTrack 3, which covers the Yellow and Blue line tracks from the National Airport to Braddock Road stations, began last night. Shuttle buses are travelling between the latter and Pentagon City for the seven days the project is anticipated to last.