Water leak problems on the Red Line's western
branch are not a safety issue, Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles
wrote in a letter to Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner.
Rather, it's a "long-term reliability concern," Sarles wrote.
The letter comes days after Councilman Berliner, chairman of the council’s transportation committee, said Montgomery County officials should have gotten a head’s up that Metro was considering the closures.
Earlier this week, Patch reported that WMATA was considering shutting down three stations for repair due to water leaks. A Metro spokesman told Greater Greater Washington that it was unclear how long the closures would last—or if they were even necessary.
Berliner told The Washington Post that he was “disappointed” he had to learn about the possibility in the news.
In his letter to Berliner, Sarles said:
“Once the best repair method has been determined and well before any work begins, Metro will meet and consult with jurisdictional partners, business leaders, our Congressional delegation, communities, and, most importantly, our passengers and ask for comment and adjust as appropriate. Please note that minimizing inconvenience to customers will be a critical factor as we evaluate potential solutions."
According to Sarles, the leaks in the Dupont-Grosvenor tunnel had been a problem for many years because the tunnel was built prior to the development of more advanced tunneling techniques.
Sarles said the tunnel did not have a water protective lining.
"More recently," Sarles said, “We have seen an increase in wayside incidents (arcing insulators, corrosion) leading Metro engineers to consider long-term solutions to improve reliability and position the infrastructure to handle future ridership growth.”
Ken Hartman, director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, said in a statement that Metro has pervasive water infiltration problems in some stations.
“It is our hope that the problems can be addressed with minimal impacts to weekday service," Hartman said.
Patch Editor Tiffany Arnold contributed to this report.