The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will be closed on Wednesday for “emergency inspections” of the system’s third-rail power cables.
The move follows an early Monday morning fire in a tunnel outside McPherson Square Station. During the closure, crews will inspect roughly 600 “jumper cables” in all WMATA tunnels.
“While the risk to the public is very low, I cannot rule out a potential life safety issue here, and that is why we must take this action immediately,” Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a news release. “When I say safety is our highest priority, I mean it. That sometimes means making tough, unpopular decisions, and this is one of those times. I fully recognize the hardship this will cause.”
The system will close at midnight tonight and will reopen at 5 a.m. on Thursday. Additional closures may be necessary following tomorrow’s inspections, officials said.
“This afternoon, we learned of WMATA’s decision to close Metrorail for emergency inspections, and are gathering additional information,” U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said in a statement. “We support any necessary actions to ensure the safety of Metro riders. These safety issues have been a long-standing concern. Last year the Transportation Committee passed and the President signed the FAST Act, which included provisions to strengthen transit safety mechanisms and enforcement.”