WASHINGTON - Metro's general manager Paul Wiedefeld recommended shutting down the troubled transit system at midnight, seven days a week, while a massive undertaking to improve the safety of the railway is put into place.
The maintenance overhaul will also include replacing tens-of-thousands of wooden ties, fasteners, and cleaning over 80,000 feet of drains. Wiedefeld acknowledge that his plans will inconvenience riders by creating closures and delays.
The first part of the maintenance surge program will take place along the Blue Line and will last from June 4 to June 19. This will involve continuous single tracking between the Franconia-Springfield and Van Dorn Street stations.
Wiedefeld spoke to the media on Friday, a day after an arcing insulator forced the shutdown of the Federal Center SW station for repairs.
The general manager closed the system for an entire last month day for emergency inspections and repairs of third-rail power cables.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Metro's poorly-maintenance system was the cause for a fire in January 2015 that killed a passenger and sickened dozens more.
Wiedefeld has said partial closures of the system will be necessary to return it to a state of good repair.
Just hours before Wiedefeld's scheduled Friday announcement, a power outage caused delays for commuters along the Red Line. Trains temporarily bypassed the Van Ness-UDC station for several hours while shuttle service was put into place.
Metro also experienced delays Friday on the Silver, Blue and Yellow lines after signal problems and train malfunctions were reported.