Brace yourselves: The longest shutdown in Metro history is right around the corner.
From May 25 to Sept. 8, six Metro stations within Alexandria and parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties will be closed in order to fully reconstruct decaying platforms, all a part of what Metro is calling the Summer Platform Improvement Project.
The summer shutdown is part of a three-year capital project that addresses structural deficiencies at outdoor platforms of 20 Metrorail stations, which are a result of decades of exposure and structure erosion.
In order for the platforms to be fully restored, tracks have to be taken out of service, existing structures will be destroyed and new concrete has to be cemented. Funding for the project comes from capital funding recently approved by Virginia, Maryland and DC legislators, and is estimated to cost between $300 to $400 million in total.
According to a press release from WMATA, shutting down the six platforms—Braddock Road (Blue and Yellow lines), King Street-Old Town (Blue and Yellow lines), Eisenhower Avenue (Yellow Line), Huntington (Yellow Line), Van Dorn Street (Blue Line) and Franconia-Springfield (Blue Line)—during the summer months will allow contractors 24-hour access to the sites and minimize impact everywhere else on the rail system.
While the eventual safety benefits are clear, the temporary shutdown will force thousands of Northern Virginia residents to add at least 30 minutes (both ways) to their commutes this summer.
Back in March, state officials agreed to pay an estimated $3.6 million to aid various areas of Virginia in managing the shutdown. Around 170,000 people enter the closed stations in a typical morning rush hour and as a result of the project, several traffic changes have been made.
Changes that people can expect include expanded water taxi service, easier access for bus travel on part of the Capital Beltway, discounted Amtrak trips for Virginia Railway Express riders and altered HOV requirements.
In addition, Metro officials have worked with the impacted counties to schedule free shuttle and express bus service, and will also implement free parking at Huntington, Franconia-Springfield, and Van Dorn Street stations for the entirety of the summer.
In an effort to mitigate the madness for busy riders, Metro created a trip planner that will help travelers navigate the shutdown throughout the summer.
When the WMATA initially announced the summer plan, its deadline was scheduled for Sept. 2, but on April 18, construction was extended until Sept. 9. Since last month, officials have given no warning of having to extend the deadline any further.
This piece serves as a general summary of the Summer Platform Improvement Project. We will continue to update and inform the community about the project throughout the summer. See more coverage here.