Metro has taken control of the $2.9 billion Silver Line rail project, the transit authority announced Tuesday morning.
After months of delays caused by numerous construction and technical mistakes and following long negotiations with the Silver Line project manager, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractor, Bechtel, Metro is accepting ownership of the 11-mile rail line from D.C. to Tysons Corner and Reston, Virginia.
Barring any further setbacks and pending the certification of safety testing, Metro expects to open the Silver Line to passenger service this summer, possibly by the start of August. Metro has up to 90 days to complete the testing under the oversight of the Tri-State Oversight Committee and the Federal Transit Administration.
“As of this date Metro is in control of all the Silver Line stations, the right of way and the facilities,” said Metro's Rob Troup in a conference call with reporters.
The transit authority will begin a big marketing campaign to familiarize commuters with the new line while its police force prepares emergency-response drills. While Metro officials publicly have refused to estimate a date for the start of passenger service, Troup said simulated service will run for a full week prior to real service on the Silver Line.
“We will actually adjust all the schedules on the other lines accordingly for the Silver Line… so we can understand any items that are out there,” Troup said. “That gives our operators enough time to understand the operations, our station managers enough time to be able to go through the stations and familiarize themselves with all the procedures.”
“Silver Line service will run from Wiehle-Reston East station to Largo Town Center, with trains every six minutes during rush hour and every 12 to 20 minutes at other times. Five new stations will be added to the Metrorail system: McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East,” Metro said in a statement.
The Silver Line was supposed to open in January but the contractor team led by Bechtel and subcontractor Alstom Signaling encountered several major problems, from failing signaling computers installed along the tracks to fire alarm speakers installed in the rail stations that did not meet current building codes.