No, no, this isn’t about the current administration.
We’re talking WMATA and their plan to rehabilitate the Red Line during a four-year stretch. Meaning that aside from rush hour, the most-used line in the system will see off-peak and weekend delays for an entire presidential term.
And if approved, it’ll come right at the time when daily ridership records are falling left and right like so many dominoes.
What’s surprising about the proposal is two-fold, from where I sit. First off, it’s a major policy shift by WMATA. Currently, weekday track work is limited to when the system is closed – meaning scant hours during the weekdays and a few more on the weekends. We’re all familiar with constant updates and alerts about certain sections being single-tracked during weekend runs, sure. This new shift, however, focuses more on completing all required maintenance along an entire stretch of rail, rather than several scattered projects.
WMATA officials bill it as an increase of productivity for their contractors. Which, considering on average those same contractors currently have three hours or less to set up, work, and take down between closing and opening hours, seems like a no-brainer. So bonus to Metro for eyeing up increased productivity.
Secondly, the fact is that finally Metro seems to be acknowledging that the entire rail system needs an overhaul. We’re all familiar with various stations and their states of disrepair – including sweltering underground stations with no ventilation in the dog-days of summer. Not that they’ve ignored it before, mind you. It’s just that with the slap-dash repairs-of-the-moment they’ve done over the last few years, it’s actually refreshing that Catoe & Co. are looking ahead for once.
The plan, if approved, will begin next April. The rail section between DuPont and Silver Spring would be the first priority. If the money is available – we’re looking at YOU, Virginia Assembly! – the Orange line is slated to undergo the hammer and tongs for six years starting in 2010, followed by the Green line in 2011. The Blue and Yellow lines would ideally follow. So by the time this resident is retiring, the entire Metro system will be overhauled…and ready to do it all over again.
Voting by Metro’s Board of Directors is tomorrow.