Metro Red Line work to affect service into Maryland

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority needs extensive capital investment. (Susann Shin/The Current/April 2017)

Metrorail Red Line service from Friendship Heights north to the Grosvenor station will be suspended on four weekends in July and August to test a technique that might address persistent issues of water leaks on Metro tracks.

On July 10, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will launch a pilot program to test a technique called “curtain grouting” that adds a polymer-based membrane to the tunnel walls.

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The tests will take place in a 2,000-foot section of inbound track between Medical Center and Bethesda and in the Medical Center interlocking area. As a result, Maryland Red Line service will be suspended entirely between Grosvenor and Friendship Heights on weekends from Saturday, July 15, to Sunday, Aug. 6. Trains will single-track between Friendship Heights and Medical Center weeknights at 9 p.m. from Monday, July 10, to Friday, Aug. 11.

“Since this tunnel segment was constructed, Metro has fought a battle against Mother Nature, and Mother Nature has always had the upper hand,” Metro general manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a release. “Just as we have addressed the root causes of track infrastructure problems and railcar reliability issues, I want to address the water infiltration problem head on and find a sustainable solution. Our Red Line riders deserve nothing less.”

By early 2018, Metro will have evaluated the pilot and determined whether curtain grouting should be applied more broadly. A full-scale installation process would require “time and a significant amount of capital funding,” according to the release.

“This kind of capital project perfectly illustrates why we need a dedicated funding source for our Metro system,” Metro board chair Jack Evans said in the release. “Fixing this problem will not be cheap or easy, but it is absolutely necessary and the right thing to do.”