DC Metro repair effort to cost $60M

DC Metro repair effort to cost $60M
© Greg Nash

A yearlong repair effort on Washington’s Metrorail system beginning this weekend will cost about $60 million, according to Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The price tag is based on estimated capital costs combined with the loss in subway fare revenue that is expected from repair-related shutdowns, delays and reduced late-night service on weekends.

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Officials said last month that a portion of the project’s cost will come from money that was set aside for future use.

Metro typically gets $150 million a year from Congress for capital improvements while local governments in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia provide most of the agency's $1.8 billion operating budget.

Officials have said they will not lower peak fares during the disruptive repair effort because the transit agency is still providing a base service and will be offering shuttle service when segments of the rail line are shut down.

Metro’s massive rehabilitation plan, known as SafeTrack, crams three years’ worth of track work and maintenance into one year.  The beleaguered agency has been battling a host of safety issues, which prompted an unprecedented shutdown of the entire system for over 24 hours in March.

The planned work includes major repairs to the subway's electric rails, replacing 12,000 insulators and clearing 87,000 feet of drains.

The first of 15 distinct projects begins Saturday, with 13 continuous days of single-tracking along the Orange and Silver lines between Ballston and East Falls Church in Northern Virginia.

But Metro is expecting “crush loads” of passengers if riders do not seek alternative routes, according to local radio station WAMU.

“We’re all going to learn some lessons from the first one,” Wiedefeld said during a Friday press conference.