Metro GM welcomes Federal Transit Administration's 'safety blitz'

Federal inspectors announced Wednesday they have launched what they are calling a "safety blitz" of Metro's troubled tracks. They have identified specific points of concern and those span all six lines of the transit system.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld weighed in on this and more while attending a Riders' Advisory Council meeting at Metro headquarters Wednesday night.

The Federal Transit Administration said it will inspect numerous locations of the Metrorail system, which will include walking inspections of ten specific track segments of special concern.

The agency said it identified these trouble spots based on their difficulty of access, history of defects and incidents and inspector recommendations.

They include stretches such as Medical Center to Friendship Heights, Rosslyn to Clarendon, McPherson Square to Foggy Bottom and Waterfront to Navy Yard.

The FTA said it will also inspect all 27 locations that needed emergency repairs during the system-wide shutdown on March 16.

Wiedefeld told reporters after the Riders' Advisory Council meeting that he welcomes the FTA safety blitz and thinks the more eyes and more people looking in at all of this, the better.

As for the plan he is working on to overhaul the troubled system, he reiterated it would be ready in four to six weeks.

While he did not admit that he is dialing back on the option floated last week of shutting down entire lines for as long as six months, Wiedefeld did say he doesn't see that as a necessary option.

"I haven't seen anything that leads me to that length of a shutdown," he said. "We are going to do this systematically, we are going to do it holistically, so we are going to come out with a plan that reflects that."

The FTA assumed the safety oversight role of Metro last year. Its comprehensive safety blitz will continue for several weeks and the agency said it will have final reports of its findings by early summer.