Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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More money, less problems?

The Federal Transit Administration on Monday announced that it would grant Metro $20 million to support four projects that are part the system’s yearlong SafeTrack maintenance program, now underway. Earlier this year, the FTA had ordered the funds to be held in reserves for safety-related projects, after Metro had planned to budget them for rail station renovations and updating how it collects fares. According to the FTA, the monies will be used on these surges:

  • Franconia-Springfield to Van Dorn (Blue and Yellow lines; Aug. 20 to Sept. 5)
  • Vienna to West Falls Church (Orange line; Sept. 9 to Oct. 20)
  • Fort Totten to NoMa (Red line; Oct. 10 to Nov. 1)
  • East Falls Church to West Falls Church (Orange and Silver lines; March 6 to March 19)

“In order to support the safety improvements that will be achieved through the SafeTrack initiative, FTA concurs with this request,” Regional Administrator Terry Garcia Crews writes to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld in a letter today. Crews notes that the FTA could “re-direct unspent federal funds if a new high priority safety requirement arises.”

Overall, SafeTrack is expected to cost some $60 million, according to Metro officials. The first surge associated with the project—along the Orange and Silver lines from the Ballston to East Falls Church stops—is set to wrap up on Thursday. The next surge will be both the first to take place in D.C. and the first to involve a line-segment shutdown. It will begin on Saturday and last for 16 days, spanning the Eastern Market and Minnesota Avenue/Benning Road stops on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines. The project is anticipated to affect 61,000 weekday trips, Metro has estimated.

The FTA adds that it has been overseeing Metro’s repair work throughout SafeTrack and will continue to do so this year.