Virginia (DC News Now) — Since mid-September, six stations on Metro’s blue and yellow lines have been closed to passengers as the transit agency works to connect tracks to the future Potomac Yard Station. Those station closures were originally set to end on October 23. But after an unexpected announcement on Friday, they won’t end until at least November 5.
On top of that, the opening of the Potomac Yard Station — which will sit between the Reagan National Airport and Braddock Rd stations — has also been pushed back until 2023.
It’s unwelcome news for the City of Alexandria, which is writing the check for the tax revenue-funded project. “The numerous delays to the Potomac Yard construction project are unacceptable. This critically important project requires more intentional oversight by WMATA,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.
The issue that derailed Metro’s scheduled Fall 2022 opening of the Potomac Yard Station
The roots of the problem, Metro says, are “unexpected site conditions” and “remediation efforts”. Three weeks ago, crews started the work to tie-in new tracks for the Potomac Yard Station, connecting them with the existing blue and yellow line tracks. But as work got underway, an issue was discovered that affected the “structural stability” of the ground beneath the tracks.
“Construction was stopped and a remediation plan was developed and implemented,” Metro officials said in a statement. “Reinforcing the ground below the tracks required removing any work already completed, excavating additional soil beneath 1400 feet of track, and installing new subgrade materials to provide the required stability.”
Metro says that the work of connecting tracks to the new station has resumed, but because of the delays caused by the remediation efforts, all stations south of Reagan National Airport — Braddock Rd, King St-Old Town, Eisenhower Ave, Huntington, Van Dorn St, Franconia-Springfield — will remain closed for an additional two weeks.
The transit agency did not provide a new expected opening date for the Potomac Yard Station.
How the extended closures will affect your commute
For three weeks, thousands of Metrorail riders have faced an agonizing reality: their daily commute to work would require an extra step — or two.
There are several free shuttle buses that transport riders between the six closed stations. You can check out the shuttle map below:
Let’s take Huntington station, for example. If a rider’s normal commute started at the Huntington Metrorail station, that rider will now take a bus — instead of a train — to Pentagon Station and then continue their journey from there. Remember, there is zero yellow line service until next year, as Metro works on another major construction and rehabilitation project. So, say that rider ends their commute at L’Enfant Plaza. Instead of taking the yellow line straight to L’Enfant, they need to stay on the blue line for several extra stations.
Commuters also have another option: the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is offering free rides between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City, L’Enfant, and Union Station.
Since Metro riders will deal with the added commute hassle until at least the first week of November, DC News Now tested the free shuttles to see how well they work. Check out the video above for the full report.
For a full list of commute options during the extended Metro closures, click here.