Airports Authority Announces Delay in Silver Line Completion

Delay due to safety testing concerns, is expected to take several weeks.

MWAA has announced a delay in the Silver Line, due to the need for additional testing.
MWAA has announced a delay in the Silver Line, due to the need for additional testing.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced Monday, Dec. 2 that additional tests are needed on Phase One of the Silver Line, focusing on software updates related to the Automatic Train Control System, before the project can be turned over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Recent testing of the Silver Line in preparation for substantial completion has identified needed software modifications to the Automatic Train Control System. 

The contractor is in the process of making the changes to ensure the proper performance of the train control system. Once completed, the contractor will produce a summary of the changes made for review and approval by WMATA and the Airports Authority. 

This will be followed by re-testing to make sure the system is functioning properly and meets performance specifications.

The Airports Authority is awaiting a definitive schedule from the contractor for the additional activity. 

The additional activity is expected to take several weeks to complete. Substantial completion of the project will be determined as results from the testing are obtained.

"This is why we test," said Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project in press release. "Our guiding principle throughout this process has been ‘safety first’ and we remain committed to that principal. We will not do anything that might compromise safety or create unsafe conditions for the traveling public."

At the Nov. 16 meeting of the Airports Authority Board of Directors, Nowakowski reported that final testing was underway on Phase One of the Silver Line. 

Based on information available at that time, the expectation was that the contractor would declare substantial completion before the end of the month. 

But Nowakowski also pointed out that any problems identified during the testing could potentially delay that schedule.

The Silver Line is being built in partnership with Loudoun and Fairfax counties and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and will be transferred to the WMATA for operation upon completion.

Phase One consists of four stations in Tysons Corner, as well as one at Wiehle Avenue and the Dulles Toll Road. 

Phase Two will continue west along the toll road through Dulles Airport before terminating in Ashburn. 


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Chipperson December 03, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Please tell me that no one is surprised that this project is delayed due to the incompetence of WMATA and partially MWAA.
Matt December 03, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Chipperson - could you identify what in the above article indicates that WMATA is incompetent? My understanding is that after the contractor(s) completed work, WMATA/MWAA ran tests and found need for readjustments and re-testing due to safety concerns. Yes, it's a delay and that's not fantastic - but I'm not sure what you think they should have done. It's a large project and they've had a fairly aggressive timeline from what I understand. Please post a link or two to articles correcting me if I'm wrong.
J Anderson December 03, 2013 at 08:38 AM
Given the number of accidents we've seen regarding rail around the world......I'm all for making sure the system is well tested etc. We've waited decades...what are a few more weeks / months.
Pete R December 03, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Great that they are testing for safety, but yes WMATA is still incompetent. They need to hold payment on these contracts until the work is done - right and on time.
LF Morris December 03, 2013 at 08:50 AM
Obviously,safety of the traveling public is paramount. Just curious as to how much these delays have cost. Also, is ther no safety testing done during the construction process? WMATA seems to be trying to catch up instead of being on top of the process. How will they ever convince us that they can handle the proposed final phase to Dulles/Loudoun County?
J Anderson December 03, 2013 at 08:52 AM
I have no data points but how many massive projects ever come in under or at budget and on time. My father use to say.....if you think it will take X time to complete....double it. 8^)
roobert dowles December 03, 2013 at 09:01 AM
Better than telling us to get aboard like Obama website and then tell us we must get off as it does not work.Progress in Government.
Lilguy December 03, 2013 at 09:30 AM
Software upgrades needed. That sure sounds familiar.
Patrick J December 03, 2013 at 07:51 PM
I'm happy with delays for a few weeks for safety. Just hope it's not CGI (Obamacare contractor) writing the code for the upgrades.
john December 03, 2013 at 09:25 PM
It's incompetence. Seriously, wasn't testing in the plan/budget? They wander along spending our money and when it's time to go live they discover it needs to be tested? Of course it needs to be tested and safe but the manager whose just now figuring that out needs to be fired...publicly...
Drew Chapman December 04, 2013 at 01:57 PM
john -- Did you even read the article? Yes, testing was in the plan. The article doesn't say testing wasn't planned or that the manager just figured this out... it's referring to things found *during* the final testing phase. Seriously, you must need reading lessons. Sad thing is, news articles are written to be understood by 5th graders.
john December 05, 2013 at 08:11 PM
They were not expecting to find anything in the testing? It's bureaucratic doublespeak. Deadlines were missed and no one gets fired. It's no one's fault. Is the contractor fixing the software for free? It's "safety first" of course. The next delay (there will be one) will be "for the children".


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