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With Silver Line Soon To Start Service, Officials Show Off New McLean Station

The McLean Silver Line station will serve Tysons Corner.
WAMU/Martin Di Caro
The McLean Silver Line station will serve Tysons Corner.

In Tysons Corner, the reinforced concrete pillars rising high above and alongside traffic-clogged highways—linking four passenger rail stations that will have no permanent parking lots—represent five years of construction work that is nearly complete.

The aerial tracks will soon begin carrying Metro riders into the Virginia suburbs as soon as the Silver Line—one of the largest public works contracts in the U.S.—is completed early next year. On Thursday, the agency building the Silver Line Metrorail project gave a small group of reporters a tour of one of the unfinished stops, the newly named McLean Station.

Only once inside the station can one appreciate its size. Escalators at the entrances on either side of Rt. 123 will carry commuters up the mezzanine level; an elevated pedestrian walkway at this level crosses over the highway. The mezzanine is 650 feet long. Another escalator (or elevator) bay will bring passengers to the top level—the platform—that provides vistas of the new Tysons Corner rising up around the rail line. For now, safety barriers at the platform’s edges protect visitors from an electrified third rail that powers only test trains.

“We are on schedule to complete construction in November then we will be turning it over and continuing to work with WMATA to test and make sure that everything is perfectly safe,” said Marcia McAllister, a project spokeswoman, who said the engineers and construction workers have a lot to be proud considering the difficulties of building a heavy rail life in a dense corridor.

“It was a challenge to build it here in Tysons Corner. Tysons has 125,000 people working here and they are all driving in every day,” she said.

The heavy construction work on the stations and tracks is completed. The remaining tasks involve putting on the finishing touches (painting walls, posting signage, testing escalators) and testing the trains to comply with all safety regulations as well as syncing the Silver Line with the Orange Line tracks.

“There are so many little things, so many details. And you have to make sure everything works right,” McAllister said. “The goal is safety and making sure we turn over to WMATA and to the people who are funding this project, a viable safe project.”

Stephen Barna, an engineer and senior project manager for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said his team worked around a lot of obstacles to complete a complicated project.

“This is a major civil works project. We have basically everything in this system, roadways, railroads, the stations, large buildings. We have everything except a water treatment plant and sewage treatment plant,” he said. The project was so massive it required removing more than one million cubic yards of earth, Barna said.

Phase I of the Silver Line will have five station stops and is expected to cost close to $3 billion. MWAA will eventually hand over the project to Metro for the completion of testing and the training of the workforce with the goal of opening the Silver Line to revenue service early next year.

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