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Metro Silver Line Delayed

MWAA announces at least an eight-week delay in passenger service.

The bus transfer facility at Reston Station is on schedule and will soon be transferred to the county.

The bus transfer facility at Reston Station is on schedule and will soon be transferred to the county. Photo Contributed

— The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced an approximately eight-week delay in the completion of Phase One of the Silver Line. Dulles Transit Partners, the design-build contractor, informed MWAA’s board Wednesday, July 17, that additional time would be needed for further testing, testing that must be completed before the track is transferred to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The eight-week estimate could be adjusted, according to the Dulles Transit Partners, who announced that additional tests will be done during July and August, and a more concrete estimate would be available at MWAA’s Sept. 18 board meeting.

“Any project this large and complex is inevitably going to encounter unexpected issues that require additional tests and adjustments,” said Jack Potter, MWAA CEO, in a press release. “With Phase One of the Silver Line nearly complete, there isn’t sufficient time in the schedule to recover from recently identified matters within the original plan.”

THE ORIGINAL PLAN called for “substantial completion” by September, then the project would be transferred to WMATA for 90 days of personnel training, system tests and operations simulation. After the 90 day period, passenger service is expected to be initiated.

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The Reston Station project will not be affected by the announced delay of the Silver Line.

According to the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project contract, “substantial completion” means certification for tests must be provided, all base contract work must be completed, as-built drawings must be provided, vendor-provided training must be completed, operations and maintenance manuals must be presented and safety documents must be certified.

Larry Melton, the project’s executive director for Dulles Transit Partner, estimated that the project was 98 percent complete as of May.

The delay in substantial completion, and subsequent required testing, has moved the opening date of the Silver Line past the expected late December date, and has moved the opening as far back as February.

Meanwhile, several projects that are being constructed to go hand in hand with the Silver Line are proceeding as originally planned. The Reston Station development, a mixed-use complex located at the Wiehle Avenue Station is still on schedule for their original planned opening.

“We’re disappointed in the delay, but we’re also eager and ready to get Reston Station going,” said Maggie Parker of Comstock Partners, the company building Reston Station in conjunction with Fairfax County. “We’re ready to hand over the parking garage to the county next week, and we’re fully prepared to be ready to go by December, and after that, we’ll be anxiously awaiting the arrival of Metro.”

The Fairfax Connector bus service has also planned for widespread changes to coincide with the Silver Line’s opening, mostly to provide transit to the four stops in Tysons Corner and the one in Reston.

THE NEW ROUTES are scheduled to begin at the same time the trains open to passengers, meaning they will be delayed along with completion of the rail line.

“We don’t have a set date for our new/modified service to start. We are still planning to start our new/modified service on day one of Silver Line operations,” said Ellen Kamilakis of the county’s Department of Transportation. “Until WMATA sets the date, we won’t know. Even with the new substantial completion date, we are still planning on having things ready by the end of the year, to stay on our own schedule.”