The habitually delayed Silver Line lurched closer to reality Monday with the announcement from Metro that it will, at long last, take control the new train route by May 27 to begin its final testing phase before it can begin passenger service, possibly as soon as late July.
Richard Sarles, the transit agency’s general manager, told reporters during a conference call that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of 11.7-mile extension, is ready to hand the project over to Metro. Metro had hoped to make this announcement earlier this year, but the handoff was pushed back after the public-address systems and track signals did not function properly.
The lead contractor on the Silver Line, Bechtel, won’t be done with the repairs by next week, but Sarles said crews have made enough progress where Metro can take over and start testing the Silver Line.
Although Metro assuming the Silver Line’s operations is a significant milepost for the project, Sarles could not give a specific date for when service will actually begin. Metro needs to run up to 90 days of tests and have the route certified by the Federal Transit Administration and an oversight board made up of officials from DC, Virginia, and Maryland.
The five-station Silver Line runs through Tysons Corner and Reston before connecting with the Orange Line at the East Falls Church station. The first phase has cost about $2.9 billion to construct, and was originally scheduled to start running last December. A second phase, scheduled to be completed in 2018, will extend the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.