WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Track work and major delays are nothing new on Metro, but an even larger problem could be looming for the Red Line.
Structural damage and maintenance problems at two Red Line stations are forcing Metro officials to consider drastic measures to fix the problems, including possibly closing a major stretch of Metro’s busiest rail line, according to a Channel 4 report.
The Medical Center and Friendship Heights stations have structural problems that let water seep into the tunnels where the trains travel, officials told Channel 4. Once inside, the water deteriorates the tunnel’s condition and creates maintenance issues.
“Water is just coming in from basically the geology that is there. The stations have a lot of fractures,” Metro Deputy General Manager Rob Troup told Channel 4. “In a few weeks, it will be filled up with water and mud.”
Officials say pumps currently are in place inside those two stations and the problems don’t pose a safety risk to riders.
To fix the problem long-term, the tunnels would have to be re-lined and re-sealed. Officials say that process could take several weeks and likely would require a full shutdown of those stations, meaning commuters would have to use buses to navigate around Medical Center and Friendship Heights.
Although the full service shutdown would be a nightmare for commuters, Metro officials told WNEW’s Cameron Thompson that that the full closure, which could last up to six weeks, is only one of several options being considered — single-tracking, partial closures and weekend work are other possible options.
WMATA released an official statement on the report:
Metro faces challenges along a portion of the Red Line near Medical Center Station, where constant water infiltration from outside the tunnel requires ongoing pumping, dredging and cleaning to keep switches in service and to prevent arcing insulators. While this is not a safety issue, Metro engineers are considering comprehensive long-term solutions to improve the reliability of the Red Line for years to come while reducing maintenance requirements. Any decision around the appropriate long-term repairs, including timeline and possible effects on service, will be made only after final engineering designs are submitted in the coming months.
WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel told DCist that nothing has been decided on for repairing those stations and even if they do they are “likely a year or more away.”