The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project teams recently announced that they have completed the train control system connections of Phase 2 of the Silver Line to the rest of the region’s transit system.

Project officials say this is major step toward completion of the rail line extension from the Wiehle-Reston East Station through Dulles Airport to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County.

Recently, Metro reopened six Fairfax County stations and restored its Silver Line service a few weeks earlier than expected amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The slow travel and commute period helped construction crews rebuild the deteriorating station platforms and complete work that necessitated the temporary suspension of rail service to allow for the second phase of the extension to be connected to the existing Metrorail system.

“This is great,” Charles Stark, MWAA senior vice president and head of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, in a prepared statement. “It’s a major milestone.”

Stark said finishing the tie-in means that the 13 previously planned WMATA shutdowns that had been planned in the coming months will not be needed. Crews were also able to do more work than they had anticipated, according to MWAA officials.

However, Loudoun County Supervisor Mike Turner (D-Ashburn), chair of the Board of Supervisors' transportation committee, called the announcement misleading. Turner said he reached out to WMATA and learned all the physical and software signal tie-ins to the existing train control system are not completed.

The effort is intended to connect the rail line extension from the Wiehle-Reston East Station through Dulles Airport to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County.

"While I was very pleased to learn about the progress being made on the Silver Line extension and its tie-in to the existing Metro system, I was disappointed over the weekend to learn the MWAA statement to the press was significantly misleading," Turner said.

He added, "While I applaud the progress, WMATA must still validate and test the work just completed. WMATA has asked MWAA to clarify their statement. I continue to be hopeful for a Q1, [fiscal year] '21 operational date for the completion of the Silver Line extension."

Sherry Ly, media relations manager for Metro, said the actual "tie-in" can only happen after the signals at Wiehle-Reston are reconfigured in accordance with the work done over the summer.

The work, followed by validation and testing, will occur closer to substantial completion of the project which is still months away, she said. This will require buses to replace trains at Wiehle-Reston over three weekends to allow the tie-in to occur.

Project officials said there will be three additional one-day shutdowns in November and December for additional systems testing as well as dynamic testing. Once construction and testing are complete, the authority will turn ownership over to WMATA. WMATA will then conduct additional testing before setting the date to begin passenger service.

No timetable is set for an opening date. Most estimates for the Silver Line’s opening in Loudoun County are for the first half of 2021.

As part of the multibillion-dollar Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project’s Phase 2, 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.

Capital Rail Constructors has been constructing the Silver Line and its stations, while Hensel Phelps is constructing the rail yard and maintenance facility.

(26) comments

WisdomGuidedByExperience

Two trends will slow ridership, even once COVID-19 is over: First, the realization that a lot of work can be done remotely, so there is no need to commute (car/bus/train/metro) long distances to places like DC and second, actually building on the first, is people deserting crowded cities and high-rise buildings for more physical separation out in the suburbs. The result will be upward pressure to increase taxes and fees on the people, mostly of lower economic means, who can least afford it.

Loudoun4Trump

This was supposed to open in 2018....another union/government run boondoggle leeching off taxpayers...

Flabio

[thumbup] Great point, as this has been managed poorly, missing deadline after deadline after deadline. We can't pretend that they've respected tax-payer dollars here.

Skyprince

When Metro announced that LoCo had taken the bait and got suckered to join the end of the Silver Line, I though, "who in the world would get on the Silver Line in LoCo and ride for an hour into DC?" That was when the ride was just long and boring, but now with CV19, you could not get me on a Metro train for that long twice a day!! Dancing girls, free champagne, no sir, good luck! You have to have rocks in your head to sit on Metro now!! It was doomed to fail from the start and now it is cemented. The moron BOS who approved this mess should be hung out to dry. It was all about playing games for the developers who wanted to put up their cheap looking junk near Metro stations. Well they can do that, but don't think anyone is going to be flocking to the Silver Line!

Hodor

I don't disagree with your sentiment, but plenty of people used to take the commuter buses into DC for 1 hour+ rides, myself included. I've also taken metro connectors to the Reston station. I'd imagine the park/metro commute would take me 90 minutes vs the 60 the other options take me. People forget that the longer the metro extends, the more times it stops and wastes time.

amerigirl

each additional station adds about 40-60 seconds of travel time, it's really not that much. It would also cut down on all those distracted drivers that try to shave, put on makeup, read the paper, and talk or text while driving. Quick question since I never had to use metro to commute to work, don't people get some of their work done while they are riding? I know my nephew works on his briefs to get a head start on the day, but i don't know if this is a common thing.

Hodor

It's not practical in most cases. You don't really have enough room during rush hour to use a laptop and no privacy.

amerigirl

Sky, we won’t be in a pandemic forever. The money for phase 2 was awarded in or about 2013. You just can’t stop projects because of things like this, temporarily maybe. There are plenty of people that work out of the area that are waiting for it to open because it would cut their drive to work, some even from W.VA

BladerFool

Wow, I agree with the trolls. Billions spent on nineteenth century technology. Compared to my Kia, commuting via the Silver line takes longer, is more expensive, and less convenient. And no coffee, who commutes without coffee?

ABee

The Silver Line assures that Loudoun County will be forever paved over.

amerigirl

Isn't that a contradiction? How does providing public transportation that won't be using the roads mean there will always be roads?

Big Daddy 348759

I think the smart ones in all this are those that move out of Loudoun County in the next 6-10 years before the tax "hens come home to roost." I'm still waiting for someone to say this metro extension past the airport was a good idea.

mopar19

I drive the entire length of the silver line heading to work. If you look at it you can see weeds that have grown coming out of the concrete barriers that have turned into trees. There is also a tree growing in between the tracks before a overpass on the toll road. Look for it. You don’t have to be surprised because of the delays and poor construction.

RHill1

The money spent on this should have been used to buy back the toll road and make it free.

David Dickinson

I am sorry to inform you that the toll road was scheduled to be free about 12 years ago. It would be free today except then-Governor (now Senator) Tim Kaine actually unilaterally gave it to MWAA so they could raise additional revenue because their finances are so bad. The toll road, when originally financed, was promised to the public to be free once the bonds were paid off. They were paid off years ago. If you hate paying those tolls, then hate Tim Kaine. He is solely responsible for inflicting millions of dollars of tolls on Northern Virginia.

amerigirl

No, it was 14 years ago, and you clearly haven’t gotten over it. The process was started during the McDonnell (R) era and it was a bipartisan effort due of lack of revenue during the McDonnell era. Kaine had just been elected 3 months earlier and the negotiations had been ongoing before he took office, the agreement was worked out March 27, 2006. In the agreement MWAA agreed to assume all outstanding debt on the Toll Road, take responsibility for the Commonwealth’s remaining share of financing for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail project; Finance and construct needed improvements to the Toll Road and Dulles Corridor. They also agreed to Expedite completion of the Dulles Metrorail project in the Corridor to Dulles Airport and beyond to Route 772 in Loudoun County. So if you hate paying those bills you really need to blame Bob McDonnell for getting VA in such financial trouble that they had to sell the toll road. Still it was a bipartisan effort to get the money needed for the toll road completion.

David Dickinson

Tim Kaine was the governor BEFORE McDonnell, not after. The governor that you are referring to that preceded Tim Kaine was MARK WARNER. Those two DEMOCRATS worked together to stab NOVA in the back. Democrats = Tolls.

More Cowbell

More lies. There was no outstanding debt since the toll road was paid for over 20 years ago. And Kaine signed it over to poorly run MWAA which doesn't have Loudoun or Northern VA best interest.

More Cowbell

I've lived in Loudoun 30 years, the initial toll road was suppose to go away once it was paid for. That was over 20 years ago. And yes, Kaine signed over toll road to a poorly run MWAA, which doesn't have the best interest of Loudoun or northern va.

Well Water Person

And so what else is new with METRO?

btm11

I'm embarrassed to see that in my comment I used the word "runs" when it should have beeb "ones."

btm11

I've found Metro's management of maintenance projects to be disappointing, with them having to go back and redo tasks that were not done properly the first time or even the second time. The Silver Line extension into Loudoun is being managed by the Airport Authority instead. I think the latter are the runs who imposed higher tolls on the Dulles toll road to pay for the cost of the extension. Their record on this project has been problematic, what with their having to redo construction work done with faulty concrete. Now we get misleading announcements from them. The whole Metrorail system seems to have been born under a dark cloud, starting with the decision to build the system with only 2 rails, instead of following the practice of the New York City subways that have extra rails to allow it to have "express trains" that skip many stations in addition to "local trains" that stop at every station and allow people to transfer to the faster express when they reach an express station. I wonder if its history of bad luck has to do with lack of public transit competition?

David Dickinson

Loudoun's timing for joining Metro could not have been worse.

ace10

boondoggle

noun

boon·​dog·​gle | \ ˈbün-ˌdä-gəl

a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft

More Cowbell

This line is somewhat new yet they had to fix the deteriorated structure. How is that progress? Look for govt/states(higher tolls/gas taxes) to bail out metro again.

jbsets

kind of reminds me of the big dig in Boston

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