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Metro’s SafeTrack Project Near Completion

Metro and local government officials and residents anxiously anticipate for the transit agency’s SafeTrack maintenance project to end Sunday, June 25.

The agency will begin what it calls “preventive maintenance” program to test cables to avoid smoke and fire incidents, clean tunnels and tighten fastener and joints along the rail tracks.

Three projects, which will be done when ridership stands at its lowest point during the year, will close the following stations:

• Branch Avenue and Suitland stations on the Green Line in Prince George’s County from Aug. 5-20;

• Takoma station on the Red Line in Northwest from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10; and

• Huntington and Eisenhower Avenue stations on the Yellow Line in Northern Virginia from May 12-27.

“We have corrected the worst parts of Metro,” said D.C. Councilman and Metro board chairman Jack Evans. “We’ve saved the patient from dying, but the patient is still pretty sick. We have a lot more work to do.”

Evans joined other officials and Metro workers Thursday, June 15 to celebrate the near completion of SafeTrack, a project to complete three years of work in one year to repair parts of the Metrorail system.

Standing outside the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld profusely thanked officials, especially workers who replaced 50,000 crossties along the rail system, “enough to build two Washington Monuments.”

Because of the SafeTrack maintenance work that began in June 2016, Wiedefeld said smoke and fire incidents decreased by 16 percent.

“Just a year ago we announced the SafeTrack plan. I can tell you it went well beyond our dreams because of the people behind us,” he said. “Signs of hard work that be seen we accomplished three years of work in one year.”

The 16th and last SafeTrack surge began Saturday, June 17 with rail work on portions of the Red Line in Montgomery County resulting in the closure of Shady Grove and Rockville stations. Riders can take buses between Twinbrook and Shady Grove.

The work is slated to end Sunday, the same day new Metrorail, bus and parking fares go into effect.

Wiedefeld earlier this month presented a resolution that was approved by the Metro board of directors for jurisdictions to provide more money to help the system remain stable, including $500 million needed in new annual funding.

His proposal received a vote of confidence June 14 from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), an organization comprised of officials who represent various jurisdictions throughout the D.C. region.

The COG board approved a “statement of principles” on Metro to create a regional plan by the fall.

The recommendations include local governments contributing annually to Metro by no more than 3 percent, restructuring the Metro Compact agreement used to create the transit system and requesting contributions from the federal government since its workforce utilizes Metrorail.

“From the COG board perspective, reforms are needed but funding is needed,” Chuck Bean, executive director of COG, said at Thursday’s press conference. “The COG board believes Metro is on the path to that reform.”

Meanwhile, the 15th SafeTrack surge, which included work on portions of the Orange Line that closed three stations in Prince George’s County and two in the District, ended Sunday.

Martin Harris, deputy director for Prince George’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, said the complex Metrorail work had to be done.

“Although we had to make a number of sacrifices for our residents, but as far as the actual work being done we’re quite pleased with that and we know that had to happen,” he said. “For the residents who are unsure of the system, I understand. Changes are being made and the system is improving. I would just encourage them to stick with it and as time goes on, keep Metro in mind and give it a chance.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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