After repeated delays, the Silver Line took a concrete step toward opening today, with Metro officially taking control of the line to begin testing.

Last week, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said he was aiming to declare operational readiness—-the step required for Metro to take over the line from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction—-today. This morning, on a call with reporters, Metro Deputy General Manager Rob Troup announced that the transition had occurred.

“We have declared operational readiness effective of 0530 this date,” Troup said. “As of this date, Metro is in control of all the Silver Line stations, the right of way, and the facilities.”

Under an agreement announced last month, the airports authority can continue finalizing construction after the handoff. According to Troup, a few finishing touches are still required, from paperwork to drainage in the stations. But the declaration of operational readiness starts the clock on the 90-day period for Metro to conduct testing and begin running passenger service on the line. That should mean full operations this summer.

Asked if Metro would need the full 9o days or could begin service earlier, Troup demurred. “Right now I can’t say what we’ll need,” he said.

According to a WMATA press release sent out during the call, Silver Line trains will run every six minutes during rush hour and every 12 to 20 minutes at other times. The initial five stations of the line will be McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East. Work has begun on the second phase of the system, which will extend to Dulles International Airport and Fairfax County.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery