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Update 10:30 p.m.:
Metro says the Green, Yellow, and Red lines will provide regular service on Thursday, but has not yet given a service update on Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.
Update 11:00 p.m.:
In a release, Metro says there is a “slight chance” of service changes on the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines on Thursday morning if repairs now underway at the Foggy Bottom station can’t be completed by 5 a.m. However, “if repairs continue at the current pace,” the agency says it expects to run those lines normally.
“In the event that repairs are not completed in time, Metro will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom, running Orange Line trains between Vienna and New Carrollton and Silver Line trains between Wiehle-Reston and Largo,” Metro explains. “The Blue Line would be rerouted over the Yellow Line bridge.”
The agency says roughly 600 cables had been inspected and four locations still needed repairs as of the past couple of hours.
On Wednesday evening, Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld and board Chairman Jack Evans said the transit agency is striving to open rail service at 5 a.m. on Thursday, but that some work remains.
According to Wiedefeld, Metro had inspected roughly 480 of the 600 “jumper cables” it closed the system to look at, as of 5 p.m. Of 22 zones, he added, 19 had been fully inspected; therein, crews found 26 defects “requiring replacement or repair.” Seventy percent of these defects had been fixed, and crews were working on the remaining eight. More worrisome, the general manager said, were three “show-stoppers” along the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines near the McPherson Square, Foggy Bottom, and Potomac Avenue stations: If Metro had found these frayed cables before today’s closure, it would not have run service in those areas.
“The intention is to finish all [repairs] through the evening,” Wiedefeld said. “We have teams in place to do it.” Thursday could see service impacts if Metro isn’t able to do so; it will provide an update around 10 p.m.
Asked whether Monday’s early-morning fire incident near the McPherson Square station would have had “catastrophic” results had it occurred during rush hour, Wiedefeld answered that “it would have been very similar to the L’Enfant Plaza” incident last January that killed an elder woman and injured over 80 others. He added that the “show-stoppers” were discovered in the most heavily trafficked part of the system, where “wear and tear” would be greater than elsewhere; finding out how the cables got that way is the “next step.”
Here is the map we used at today’s news conference showing locations of defects found as of 5pm. pic.twitter.com/WsH82AiOj9
— Metro (@wmata) March 16, 2016
Metro says it will share its findings from Wednesday’s inspections with the National Transportation Safety Board, which conducted an investigation of the L’Enfant Plaza incident last year, and the Federal Transit Administration, which has spearheaded safety oversight of the regional transit agency since late October.
Meanwhile, Evans put Metro’s political context into sharp relief, saying the agency has numerous problems because it lacks a dedicated source of funding—in essence, a tragedy of the commons among the District, Maryland, Virginia, and the federal government. “It’s important to remember that Metro is not some stand-alone organization,” Evans, who used to be the board’s chairman in the 1990s, said. “Metro is us.”
“Here I stand 25 years later and no progress has been made on the [lack of funding issue],” he continued. “That is unconscionable. I hope this is a wake-up call for the entire region.”
Had Monday’s incident not taken place, the next time the cables would have been inspected is June—in a yearly assessment—the general manager said. “We can’t wait for annual inspections to find these things.”
Metro also shared a brief video of today’s jumper cable work, including an instance of a “show-stopper”:
Photo via Metro