WASHINGTON - Metro said the emergency inspection process that caused the rail system to shut down for an entire day on Wednesday was necessary and over two dozen areas were found where repairs of the system's underground cables were needed.
All 91 Metro stations were closed Wednesday by the transit agency for the inspection of 600 underground jumper cables. The emergency safety check was sparked by a cable fire in a tunnel near the McPherson Square station early Monday morning, causing service disruptions on the Blue, Orange and Silver Lines.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said on Tuesday that this fire shared commonalities to the deadly smoke incident near the L’Enfant Plaza station in January 2015 that caused a woman to die and sickened at least 80 people.
Metro said as of 10 p.m. Wednesday, inspections of all 600 jumper cables have been completed. Inspectors found 26 areas where these third-rail power cables and connector boots were damaged.
Crews have completed repairs at 22 of the 26 locations as of 9 p.m. Wednesday and repairs are underway for the remaining four locations.
"Metro deployed 22 teams to inspect the third rail power system,” the transit agency said in a news release. “Walking through miles of tunnel using 14 prime movers to move supplies and materials, the teams are inspecting 22 underground zones. The teams -- consisting of Metro employees, contractors, and outside electrical engineering experts -- are inspecting jumper cables, cable connecting boots, and the environment around the cables. The teams are looking for damaged cables, damaged boots, and debris near cables that could pose a fire hazard. Behind the inspection teams are 3 cable construction crews who are replacing and repairing any locations that are identified for immediate action."
Wiedefeld said there were three "showstoppers" areas at McPherson Square, Foggy Bottom and Potomac Avenue where it would have been deemed unsafe for trains to run through.
After showing video of one of frayed cables located at the Foggy Bottom station, Wiedefeld said, “As bad as that looks, these do not indicate the cable would catch fire, but they were imminent for fire. But clearly this is the hazardous condition that we cannot except.”
All Metrorail service will resume starting at 5 a.m. Thursday. Trains on the Red, Yellow and Green lines will operate normally.
If repairs are not finished at Foggy Bottom by opening Thursday morning, Metro said trains will single track between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom and will run Orange Line trains between Vienna and New Carrollton and Silver Line trains between Wiehle-Reston and Largo. The Blue line would be rerouted over the Yellow Line bridge.