Metro officials discuss SafeTrack plans

Metro General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld, right, and Metro Board of Directors Chair Jack Evans, left, held a press conference to address Metro's year-long repair plan Monday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor
Metro General Manager, Paul Wiedefeld, right, and Metro Board of Directors Chair Jack Evans, left, held a press conference to address Metro’s year-long repair plan Monday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Catherine Moran

Two top Metro officials stressed the importance of Metro’s year-long repair plan and encouraged commuters to continue using alternative forms of transportation at a press conference at the Foggy Bottom Metro Station Tuesday.

Jack Evans, the chair of Metro’s board of directors, and Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the repair plan, called SafeTrack, is vital for Metro to continue. For the next year, all of the Metro lines will have planned outages and single tracking to address safety recommendations.

“It is an essential component of fixing up the system,” Evans said. “Our system is broken.”

Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel said at times during the 15 planned surges, the Foggy Bottom Metro Station will experience no Blue line service and that the Orange and Silver lines will operate less frequently.

SafeTrack began three days ago with single tracking from the Ballston to East Falls Church stations. Wiedefeld said that maintenance includes rebuilding the catwalks, cleaning out the drainage, and looking at the power cables.

Wiedefeld said that the 26 percent fewer morning riders today at stations west of Ballston Station compared to May 16 helped keep the Metro running as smoothly as possible.

“Whatever you did today, do it tomorrow,” Evans said about the ridership.

Wiedefeld attributed the lower ridership numbers to people commuting earlier in the morning on the Metro or finding alternative routes. Bus ridership was higher and traffic patterns changed Monday, he said.

Both Evans and Wiedefeld acknowledged the “level of inconvenience” to Metro riders, but said the planned single tracking and outages are necessary to cut three years worth of work on the Metro down to one.

“There is no way around it,” Evans said.

Riders may not see the results after the year, but that if all goes well, the Metro will be “safer and more reliable,” Evans said.

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