It hasn’t even opened yet and already Metro’s new Silver Line is behind schedule. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) says the expected completion date will be about eight weeks later than expected. The additional time is needed for “testing to assure the safety and performance of the systems and equipment before it is transferred to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority,” the airports authority said.
“Our main goal has always been safety and quality – it supersedes all else,” said Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter. “Any project this large and complex is inevitably going to encounter unexpected issues that require additional tests and adjustments. With Phase 1 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 project plan called for substantial completion of Phase 1 in early September, at which time the line would be turned over to WMATA. The initiation of revenue service, when the rail line begins carrying passengers, is set by WMATA and had been anticipated in late December following 90 days of personnel training, system tests and operation simulation. The delay likely pushes the start date to March 2014.
“In the meantime, we are in close coordination with Dulles Transit Partners and WMATA to make the final testing process as fast and efficient as possible – and to help get the Silver Line ready to begin serving passengers,” Potter said. “We will assure that all systems and components are working safely and performing as expected.”
While Phase 1, which connects Metro’s Orange Line in Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, approaches completion, the Airports Authority has begun early work on Phase 2 of the Silver Line, extending from Wiehle Ave. through Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, ultimately extending the Washington region’s Metrorail mass transit system 23 miles into the fast-growing Virginia suburbs.
The Silver Line is expected to spur economic development along its route and will provide new transportation options for commuters, in addition to providing a fast and efficient new option for passengers using Dulles International Airport.
Traffic grows at Reagan
Other items addressed during the Airports Authority’s Board of Directors meeting included reports on increasing numbers of domestic passengers at Reagan National Airport and international passenger growth at Dulles International. Together, the two airports served 3.8 million travelers in May – growing 1.1 percent compared with May 2012.
Dulles International Airport served nearly 2 million passengers in May – the busiest month for the airport so far this year. Growth was primarily driven by new service on United Airlines to Dublin, Ireland; Guatemala City, Guatemala and San Jose, Costa Rica and new daily flights on Emirates and Etihad Airways to the Middle East.
Reagan National set an all-time monthly record in May, serving 1.88 million passengers. Its growth was largely driven by service additions on US Airways, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines and new carriers Southwest Airlines and Virgin America beginning domestic service.