Metro Celebrates the Impending End of SafeTrack

Martin Harris (at podium), deputy director of Prince George's County's Department of Public Works and Transportation, speaks during a June 15 press conference at the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Martin Harris (at podium), deputy director of Prince George's County's Department of Public Works and Transportation, speaks during a June 15 press conference at the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, Maryland. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Metro, Maryland and D.C. officials celebrated Thursday the upcoming completion of a three-year maintenance project that will take one year to finish once it officially ends next week.

Standing outside the Twinbrook Metro station in Rockville, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld profusely thanked officials, especially Metro workers who replaced 50,000 crossties along the rail system, “enough to build two Washington Monuments.”

Because of the SafeTrack maintenance work that began in June 2016, smoke and fire incidents decreased by 16 percent, Wiedefeld said.

“Just a year ago we announced the SafeTrack plan,” he said. “I can tell you it went well beyond our dreams because of the people behind us. Signs of hard work that be seen we accomplished three years of work in one year.”

The 16th and last SafeTrack surge begins Saturday to begin rail work on portions of the Red Line in Montgomery County resulting in the closure of Shady Grove and Rockville stations. Commuters can take buses between Twinbrook and Shady Grove.

The work slated to end June 25 will also be the same day new Metrorail, bus and parking fares go into effect.

Wiedefeld announced a proposal last week for jurisdictions to provide more money to help the system remain stable that includes $500 million needed in new, annual funding.

His proposal that he first presented in April received a vote of confidence Wednesday from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), an organization composed of officials who represent various jurisdictions through D.C. region.

The COG board approved a “statement of principles on Metro” to create a regional plan by the fall.

Some of the recommendations include local governments contributing annually to Metro by no more than 3 percent; restructure the Metro Compact agreement used to create the transit system; and request the federal government to contribute since its workforce utilizes Metrorail.

“From the COG board perspective, reforms are needed but funding is needed,” Chuck Bean, executive director of COG, said at Thursday’s press conference. “The COG board believes Metro is on the path to that reform.”

Meanwhile, the Metro’s 15th surge will end Thursday that included work on portions of the Orange Line that closed three stations in Prince George’s County and two in the District.

Martin Harris, deputy director for Prince George’s Department of Public Works and Transportation, said the complex Metrorail work had to be done.

“Although we had to make a number of sacrifices for our residents, but as far as the actual work being done we’re quite pleased with that and we know that had to happen,” he said. “For the residents who are unsure of the system, I understand. Changes are being made and the system is improving. I would just encourage them to stick with it and as time goes on, keep Metro in mind and give it a chance.”

About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 252 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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