Paul Wiedefeld, general manager and chief executive officer for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), reiterated to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Tuesday the Silver Line is projected to begin operating early next year.
Wiedefeld said there still remains some outstanding issues before Metro begins its testing, which may take up to two months. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is projecting substantial completion in the third quarter or by Labor Day before turning over the Phase 2 project to Metro.
“We’re hoping that as we get those things knocked down that’ll be as short as we can with the intention of opening early in 2022,” Wiedefeld said.
On Tuesday, the Metro CEO provided an update at the board’s transit summit that included transit updates from county advisory groups, unmet transit needs of seniors and disabled residents, strategies for the best use of park and ride lots.
Wiedefeld also answered questions about the future of Metro and Phase 2 of the multi-billion dollar Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
He said before Metro can take over the rail project, the Airports Authority has a number of unresolved issues and maintenance issues.
Cracked third rail insulators, cover brackets, impedance bonds are among some of the unresolved issues.
“It is in our interest to get this Phase 2 open as quickly as we can because it is the future of, obviously the region in so many ways and for the current agency, but there are key issues that need to be solved,” Wiedefeld said.
With as evidence showing ridership levels changing during the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged the board to consider the transit system for more than work trips. 80% of the trips in the region are have been non-work related, he said, adding that outside of the U.S. transit is used for a number of purposes.
Wiedefeld said the public is going to ask for that because “even though they may not be teleworking in, they may be doing lots of things during the day because they don’t necessarily sit at their computer all day straight.”
As part of Metrorail expansion, Loudoun County will have three of the six new stations connected to the Silver Line, including Ashburn, Loudoun Gateway and Dulles International stations. The upcoming stations in Fairfax will include Innovation Center, Herndon and Reston Town Center.
Metro’s arrival at the Dulles Airport and into Loudoun is already three years behind schedule.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), who serves as one of Virginia’s two principal directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), said “Hopefully we’re going to have a big party sometime in first quarter of 2022 when that Silver Line comes out to Loudoun.”