The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is opting not to project a new completion date for the first phase of the Silver Line.
There are too many variables to be able to accurately project completion, Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Executive Director Pat Nowakowski told the authority’s Board of Directors on Wednesday.
“I am reluctant, at this point in time, to put a date on it,” Nowakowski said. “We are working aggressively and as quickly as possible.”
The Silver Line was originally slated to open by the end of this year but, earlier this year, the date of “substantial completion” was pushed back by about two months, pushing the start of service to early 2014. Substantial completion marks the point at which the airports authority accepts the project from its contractor and can transfer the system to Metro.
A second delay occurred during the testing phase. As recounted by MWAA board member Frank “Rusty” Conner, the contractor responsible for the automated train control system, Allcom, discovered a problem during testing and needed more time to address the issue.
Based on the timeline Nowakowski presented on Wednesday, it will be at least another three weeks before the project is ready to hand over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Nowakowski said the next step is for Allcom’s engineers to present their proposed solution to MWAA’s engineering team, which was slated to happen on Wednesday. If all the engineers are in agreement on the solution, the software fix can be installed fairly quickly and retested, he said.
Once that is complete, the project still has to pass one big test — running simulated train service. Nowakowski said that, because of conflicts with the Orange Line, Metro can only accommodate this testing overnight between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Therefore, every missed opportunity to conduct that test causes a one-week delay.
After the simulated train service test is complete, contractor Dulles Transit Partners has to finish compiling the reports and other documentation required to demonstrate that the project has reached substantial completion. Nowakowski said he believes this will take two to three days after the simulated service testing.
MWAA has 15 days to review the documentation and either agree or disagree that the project is at substantial completion. Once the agency accepts the work of its contractor, it can turn the system over to WMATA.
Metro then has 90 days to make its final preparations to begin service on the Silver Line.
“They have indicated to us that they’re going to try and beat that, but that is something that is totally within their control,” Nowakowski said.