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Testing On Silver Line Completed; Still No Timeline On Open Date

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Trains may run out to Tysons Corner this spring if testing continues without problems on the Silver Line.
WAMU/Jared Angle
Trains may run out to Tysons Corner this spring if testing continues without problems on the Silver Line.

The last scheduled safety tests of the $5.6 billion Silver Line rail extension through Tysons Corner were completed without any obvious problems over the weekend, but the project-leading Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and its contractor Bechtel are not calling the tests successful yet.

"We had 10 different trains running simultaneously along the Silver Line, all 11 miles of it, through all five new stations. We tested everything about the new stations, the systems, and everything in between," said project spokeswoman Marcia McAllister. "We are still sitting here tabulating, evaluating, and analyzing all the information with Dulles Transit Partners [Bechtel] and with Metro."

The successful completion of safety testing, including the demonstration that the automatic train control system is functioning correctly, will trigger the process that will allow MWAA and Bechtel to hand the project over to Metro. The transit authority will then have 90 days to complete its own testing and training of its workforce.

Metro has refused to speculate when the Silver Line will be ready for passenger service. Most outside observers estimate the Silver Line could open this spring.

The Silver Line originally was scheduled to open in January but was delayed several times. One delay was caused by a mistake made by a Bechtel subcontractor during signals testing. Another delay resulted from glitches in the computerized safety system that keeps different trains at safe distances.

McAllister was unable to say when the evaluation of test data would be completed.

"We probably shouldn't be surprised, but we are a little bit surprised by all the data that we have," he said.

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