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While the opening date for the Silver Line remains an unknown and construction continues to drag on, Metro officials are trying to usher the project through its final stages.

Last week, a committee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority gave Metro General Manager Richard Sarles the authority to determine when to formally accept the Silver Line into the Metrorail system and to subsequently set the start date for rail service on the new line.

Metro took control of the new line May 27 under an agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the Silver Line. This milestone is referred to as the “operational readiness date.”

The transit agency techinically has up to 90 days from that date, or through late August, to complete its final testing and training processes and begin service.

However, Sarles said, because Metro declared operational readiness with a long “to do” list remaining for MWAA and its contractor, Dulles Transit Partners, that date could slip if the work isn’t done.

Assistant General Manager Robert Troup said last week that MWAA is not quite as far along on the 30-plus item list as expected.

“Recently there has been some schedule slip, but we do believe the schedule can be recovered with the proper resources and focus,” Troup said. The agencies review the schedule twice weekly, he said.

There is some additional work that will continue after Metro accepts the new rail line and sets the date for the start of service, Troup added.

This includes software upgrades for the train control system, the installation of art in the stations, and cosmetic improvements to the station entrances.

“We continue to work very, very closely with MWAA to achieve these objectives as quickly as possible but without compromising the overall safety, reliability and also the operational goals of the Silver Line extension,” Troup told the WMATA board last week.

Sarles said the agency won’t accept the new line until it is ready, but he will try to announce the target opening date earlier so that related functions like new bus routes can be activated in time.



kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com