The long summer shutdown which will close Yellow and Blue Line stations south of National Airport and affect about 17,000 riders just got six days longer. WMATA announced Thursday, April 18 that the shutdown will now run from May 25 through Sunday, September 8 instead of reopening on September 3 as previously expected.
In order to address crumbling concrete and deteriorating platforms, last year WMATA announced it planned to close 20 stations over three years to let crews perform much-needed rehab work. The first stations to close are the six Yellow and Blue Line stops south of National Airport: Braddock Road, King Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, Van Dorn, and Franconia-Springfield. Braddock Road, King Street, and Eisenhower Avenue will be replaced during the shutdown, and work on the other three will continue after the shutdown ends.
Braddock Road needs requires some complicated fixes
WMATA is extending the shutdown so that its contractor, Kiewit, can “address a longstanding design issue at Braddock Road Station,” according to a press release. After WMATA announced the closure, it conducted some engineering surveys at Braddock Road and decided it needed more time to get all the work done.
The release notes, “The platform at the south end of Braddock Road Station is approximately two to four inches higher than the level of the train floor,” which makes it harder to get on and off trains, particularly for people using mobility devices. It's also a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that the system be accessible.
The platform height issue at Braddock Road has been a known problem for the past several years. In 2016, GGWash reported on the yellow warning decals telling passengers to “Watch your step” as they get on and off trains at the Braddock stop.
Fixing the platform height is a complicated process. It involves temporarily putting the platform onto what amounts to a set of stilts to lift it up a little so crews can remove sections of the existing station to lower the platform down to where it should be in order to line up with train doors. Once that’s complete, the platform itself can begin to be replaced.
How to deal with the closures
Even after the shutdown ends, riders can expect fewer trains at some stations. Although specifics are not yet available, earlier Metro documents say that continuous single-tracking will occur at Van Dorn, Franconia, and Huntington after September 8. All the stations will be open, but riders at some of those stations will likely see fewer trains than normal.
Metro and local jurisdictions are running five shuttle bus routes during the shutdown to help riders get where they need to be, in addition to adding more service to existing bus routes. The shuttle routes are a mixture of local and express services that move riders between the closed stations and up to Pentagon or National Airport and onto the rest of the open rail system.
If you're wondering how to adjust your commute during the shutdown, the agency created a trip planning tool so you can see what options you have.
Metro Reasons is a regular breaking news, investigative reporting, and analysis column by Stephen Repetski about everything Metro. Please send tips to Metro Reasons.