Opinion: Commentary: Alternatives During Station Closures

Opinion: Commentary: Alternatives During Station Closures

In case you’ve been too wrapped up in the final Game of Thrones season or wondering when the rain will finally go away for more than just a couple of days, you might be unaware of the impending Metro station closures and the significant impact this will have on the commutes of residents in the 44th district whom I represent. Well, here’s an important reminder. In just two weeks, from May 25, the Saturday before Memorial Day, through Sept. 8, six Blue and Yellow Line Metro stations south of the Ronald Reagan National Airport will be closed in order to complete Phase 1 of what Metro is calling the “Platform Improvement Project.” This includes Huntington Station which many of us use on a daily basis to commute to work, go to events and sightsee in DC, generally avoid traffic, and do our part for the environment by lessening the number of cars on the road.

Much of this work is desperately needed due to poor construction and maintenance from as far back as 35 years ago as is the case of Braddock Station. Complete closure of these stations, as opposed to limited service such as single-tracking, will expedite the project, save money, and reduce expected completion time by up to 94 percent. In trying to make lemonade from these lemons, the good news is that, though we will be without service for 107 days, Metro is working very hard to give travelers alternatives which I want to share with you.

Also, they are doing their best to keep you informed, including personal outreach at Huntington Station six times between now and when the shutdown starts, along with station specific brochures that are being handed out to customers. In addition, the WMATA communications teams will be present at all of the affected stations during the first two weeks of the shutdown period to answer any questions and provide direction to commuters. WMATA bus staff will also be available throughout the entire shutdown period to assist commuters.

First, it is important to note that regular service will continue throughout the rest of the system from National Airport north with near-normal service during this summer. Parking at the Huntington, Franconia, and Van Dorn stations will be free all summer, and there will be a number of free shuttles providing travel alternatives. The best bet for commuters will be to jump on the free non-stop shuttle from Huntington Station to the Pentagon Station, about a 30-to 35 minute ride. For those going to a Nationals or DC United game, it may be best to drive across the Woodrow Wilson bridge and hop on the Green Line at Branch Avenue, only six stops from the stadium. And, for local traffic, you are encouraged to take the free local shuttles stopping at each closed metro station, acting almost as a surrogate train for local use. And, the popular 11Y bus service will be expanded during construction to include midday service plus more of the regular peak period service. If more buses are needed, WMATA will be monitoring the service and making adjustments. Here is a link to the bus timetables for the enhanced Metrobus service: https://www.wmata.com/schedules/timetables/upcoming-changes/index.cfm?state=VA.

Free shuttle buses will replace Metro service throughout the shutdown. The Blue Line Shuttle will operate between the Franconia-Springfield, Van Dorn St, King St-Old Town, and National Airport stations. This Blue Line Shuttle will not stop at the Braddock Road station. The Yellow Line Shuttle will operate between the Huntington, Eisenhower Ave, King St-Old Town, Braddock Road, and Crystal City stations. The Yellow Line Shuttle will not stop at National Airport. Free express shuttle buses will also be available that run directly from the Franconia-Springfield Station to the Pentagon Station, and from the Huntington Station to the Pentagon Station. Additionally, an express shuttle will run from the Landmark Mall to the Pentagon Station. These shuttle buses will run every five minutes during rush hours and every 10 minutes midday and evenings, except the Blue Line Shuttle (every 12 minutes during midday) and Landmark-Pentagon Express (weekdays only). The shuttles will operate during all hours the rail system is open, seven days a week, except the Landmark-Pentagon Express, which will only operate on weekdays. All shuttle buses will meet the first and last trains at their respective terminal stations.

For more resources and ways to stay informed on Fairfax County travel alternatives, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/transportation/travel-alerts/metro-platforms. For information on the WMATA Platform Improvement Project, visit www.wmata.com/platforms.