Since Saturday, May 25, all Metrorail stations south of Reagan National Airport in Virginia — six in total — have been closed for reconstruction and will remain out of order until Sunday, Sept. 8. Specifically affected are the Braddock Road and King Street – Old Town stations in Alexandria on the Blue and Yellow lines; the Van Dorn Street and Franconia – Springfield stations on the Blue line; and the Eisenhower Avenue and Huntington stations on the Yellow line.
According to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: “The summer 2019 station closures are part of Metro’s three-year Platform Improvement Project that will completely reconstruct the outdoor platforms at 20 Metrorail stations, making platforms safer and more accessible for customers with disabilities, while also addressing safety concerns and longstanding structural issues.”
As a large population of Virginia and Maryland residents make up the District workforce, the daily commutes of hundreds of professionals have been, quite literally, derailed. In addition, the May closure put added pressure on working parents, since the rerouting has complicated their getting children to school on time.
Beyond local residents, the closings have also inconvenienced summer tourists, who in many cases plan their stays around proximity to Metro stations and access to the city’s attractions.
To alleviate these inconveniences, Metro is offering shuttle buses on a variety of routes to transfer passengers for free during the reconstruction period. Three stations can be reached directly from the National Airport via shuttle. However, according to the Washington Post: “If their destination is Braddock Road or one of the two Yellow Line-only stations, they will need to take two buses to replace one train.”
In other words, the shuttles are a cheaper but far less efficient alternative to the Metro lines. And while Metro has worked with and promoted other public transportation services as alternatives, many commuters’ travel times have doubled; some have even reported roundtrip times of up to five hours.
According to Jennifer Mitchell, director of the Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation, “this critical rehabilitation project will require patience and planning for commuters and visitors through the summer, but will move Metro and the region forward.”