The announced 29 hour shut down of the entire Metrorail system beginning tonight at midnight means traffic will be snarled throughout the Washington DC region, and for Germantown it means that there could be a run on parking spaces at MARC train stations.
Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, with support from the Authority's Board of Directors, announced the full closure of the Metrorail system on Wednesday, March 16, for emergency inspections of the system's third-rail power cables following an early morning tunnel fire on Monday.
The inspections of approximately 600 "jumper cables" will occur along all tunnel segments on the Metrorail system. At the conclusion of the inspection process, there may be a need for additional rail service outages, said a WMATA press release. Any further service impacts will be announced to the public as soon as they are known.
"While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately," Wiedefeld said. "When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause."
The Metrorail system will close at its normal time midnight on Tuesday and remain closed until 5:00 am Thursday. All six Metrorail lines and all 91 stations will be closed on Wednesday.
The unprecedented action follows an early morning electrical fire involving a cable in the tunnel outside McPherson Square Station yesterday. There were no injuries; however, service was disrupted along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.
Shortly after the announcement, the Maryland Transportation Administration said, “Logistics of how the WMATA shutdown will affect MARC services are being working on now. The MTA stands ready to assist passengers affected by the proposed shutdown of WMATA Metrorail.”
Captain David Gillespie, commander of the Montgomery County Police 5th District in Germantown said that parking at the Germantown and Boyds MARC train stations could be difficult on Wednesday morning. “One of the biggest issues is going to be parking, and my hope is that people will use the Metropolitan Grove station,” He said that the MCPD will have traffic units monitoring the MARC stations in Germantown and Boyds on Wednesday morning.
Montgomery County’s Ride-On Bus system announced via Twitter that it will be running on a regular weekday service tomorrow, March 16. The Tweet said Ride On “will provide additional buses where possible.”
After the announcement, Congressman John K. Delaney of Maryland’s 6th District, which includes Germantown said in a statement, “For a long time Marylanders have been denied the safe, reliable and efficient Metro system that they deserve. It is deeply disturbing that the system is in such a precarious state that it must be entirely and abruptly shut down during the middle of a workweek. This is a stark demonstration of a total agency failure; now is the time for every stakeholder in WMATA to demand better performance and improved safety.”
Photos by Germantown Pulse