The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will shut down several tracks this summer to renovate its rail system during a lull in ridership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stations on the Yellow, Green and Red lines will pause service during six different operation periods during the summer starting last Monday and lasting until Aug. 1, as WMATA workers repair tracks and complete “reliability projects” throughout the D.C. area’s transportation network, according to a DCist report. WMATA officials also announced plans to extend the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport and add outdoor platforms and “new and updated customer amenities” to the Orange Line.
WMATA officials said the decision to close stations throughout the summer, during which ridership has remained stagnant under a widespread fear of infection, will “offset potential delays to the project schedule as a result of COVID-19 safety protocols, supply chain delays and workforce availability challenges.”
“We’re taking advantage of these conditions to schedule around-the-clock track work,” the agency said in a tweet.
Yellow Line renovations between L’Enfant Plaza and the Pentagon are the first phase of the summer-long project, but those stations will remain open during track repairs, according to DCist. Most stations along train lines undergoing maintenance will shut down for some time, starting June 14, as the Waterfront and Navy Yard-Ballpark stops will be the first to shut down for a week, DCist reported.
The report states free shuttle buses will provide additional transportation options during the renovations for affected commuters dealing with station closures or train delays.
Most station closures will occur at Mt. Vernon Square, Gallery Place, Columbia Heights, Georgia Avenue, Union Station, NoMa-Gallaudet U and Takoma, according to DCist. Most operation periods will last a week, but a few phases like the Green and Yellow lines’ renovations between U Street and Ft. Totten could last up to three weeks, DCist reported.
The report states multiple Orange Line stations will also shut down the summer as WMATA workers begin to install outdoor platforms at 20 locations as part of the Platform Improvement Program, slated to wrap up by 2022. The project will be halfway completed by the end of the year, and WMATA officials said they have already renovated platforms at six stations on the Yellow and Blue lines and four stations on the west side of the Orange Line – serving as Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the four-phase plan, according to DCist.
Phase 3 and Phase 4 will install more platforms along the Blue, Green and Orange lines, according to WMATA’s program update.
WMATA officials also plan to extend the Silver Line with six new stops that connect to the Wiehle-Reston East Station in Virginia, with a few new stations expected to be completed by Labor Day include Dulles International Airport, Reston Town Center and Ashburn.