First phase of Silver Line not quite complete

(WJLA) - The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority isn’t quite ready to uncover the first phase of the Silver Line.

WMATA Deputy General Manager Rob Troup told reporters on a conference call Monday morning that the agency has a punch list with 13 items and 33 “subsets” that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractor must first complete.

“We are still tracking to be able to provide service sometime in summer,” Troup said, “A lot of it depends on the progress MWAA and their contractor make in resolving some of these issues.”

Those issues include improving the reliability trains automatic control system, obtaining permanent certificates of occupancy for facilities along the first phase, and replacing speakers at every Silver Line Station.

Troup told ABC7 that MWAA was “well beyond the halfway point” on the repairs, adding the contractor is “making some very good progress on some of those items.”

But that progress comes after months of delays to the project that is millions of dollars over budget. The first phase of the Silver Line running from East Falls Church to Tyson’s Corner and Reston was supposed to open months ago.

“These are not necessarily things that are unexpected in a project this size,” Troup said during the half hour conference call, “My mindset is to work through each issue to make sure we have a safe, reliable system.”

Over the weekend, a new issue developed at the junction where the silver line breaks off from the Orange Line when a block capacitor failed creating what Troup called a ‘bobbing track circuit.’

“This is a concern for us,” Troup said, “A bobbing track circuit is not a safety issue, a bobbing track circuit is a reliability issue.”

Basically, as a train approaches the Orange Line from the Silver Line, the track circuit at the junction will go to “false occupancy” that causes a signal to drop and the train to enter braking mode.

On Monday, a contractor is working to determine what caused the blocking capacitor component to fail. WMATA believes it is a component failure, but still needs to rule out a larger systemic problem. The issue should not impact traffic on the Orange Line.

“It’s important for us to resolve these issues and resolve them very quickly,” said Troup.