Metro, MWAA announce major Silver Line milestone, new deal

(WJLA) - Thursday was a day full of major announcements regarding the much-anticipated opening of Metro's Silver Line. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees construction, agreed that the builder has reached substantial completion.

"Virtually everything is built and in place and the systems are all there," assured Patrick Nowakowski, Executive Director of the Metrorail Project.

Now, Metro will take over the line and begin three months of tests and training prior to opening it up to passengers.

"I'm excited -- that is great!" said passenger Tiarra Dana

The Silver Line is months late and about $150 million over budget. But Metro will take over now to save some time, even though the contractor still has a number of smaller jobs to finish.

"They'll be able to continue working while we will continue our testing and training, and we will both be able to move this line closer to an opening date," said Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel.

Just two months ago, the Airports Authority determined that a lot of work still needed to be done, causing frustration and confusion over the long-anticipated extension of the transit system.

"The Airports Authority is still required to address all priority items - those that affect reliability or require significant track access - prior to handing the project off to Metro," explained Richard Sarles, Metro GM and CEO.

"We expect that the Airports Authority will complete the remaining items in a timely fashion, thereby allowing us to open the line this summer," Sarles said in a statement Thursday.

Examples of remaining items include:

• Providing to Metro safety certification documentation demonstrating that all open items have been closed.

• Resolving traction power reliability issues.

• Executing a contract for the replacement of track circuit modules.

• Resolving leaks and drainage issues.

• Grounding of tunnel handrails and replacement of coaxial cable in the tunnel.

• Replacing public address speakers to meet Virginia Department of General Services requirements.

• Elevator shaft and piston replacement at Tysons Corner station.

• All work required to obtain permanent certificates of occupancy.

Silver Line's opening date will be set by the Metro Board of Directors after the project is in Metro's control, Sarles added.