WMATA tries again to conduct Metro vibration study with local volunteers

WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld sent a response to Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd's June 30th letter asking WMATA for an update on the noise and shaking allegedly caused by Metro trains running underground on the Green line in Petworth, saying a new study was being set up.

In Todd's June 30th letter, the Councilmember asked Wiedefeld about resident concerns and lack of communication about WMATA's first round of vibration studies involving consulting firm Wilson Ihrig. Since then, only a few residents claimed to have received waivers for the study, and according to WMATA, only four homes ended up participating.

"Residents have described significant delays and insufficient communication regarding those tests," Todd writes, "As well as concerns about the legal language of the waiver requiring signature prior to testing."

Todd also requested more information on the broken rail ties as reported by the FTA after a safety inspection. "I am specifically interested in the actions that WMATA has taken with regard to a March, 2017 report by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This report clearly cites broken rail fasteners near the Petworth station as a cause of the increased vibrations. Has WMATA been able to confirm the FTA analysis that broken rail fasteners are the cause of the vibrations that residents have been experiencing for approximately a year? If so, what actions has WMATA taken, and what actions will be taken, to rectify this urgent issue?"

After people living near the Green and Yellow Line tracks near the Georgia Avenue Metro station complained that Metro trains might be shaking their homes, the newly released reports from the FTA show federal inspectors went out in December 2016 to look for a source of the problem. Over a stretch about 1,300 feet, the inspector found “numerous” clips, which were supposed to hold the rails in place, broken off of the fastener bases. When working correctly, the fasteners that had these clips reduce the vibrations going into the tunnel and the neighborhood above.
(Photo courtesy Federal Transit Agency & WTOP)

Wiedefeld responded on July 17th that WMATA sent approximately 30 additional letters to local households at the end of June, asking for responses by mid-July. He said they “Hope to receive responses from additional home owners to volunteer for testing. Once this additional testing is completed, the contractor will put together an evaluation for our review.”

Wiedefeld also confirmed that the broken rail fasteners near the Georgia Ave-Petworth station cited by the Federal Transit Administration have been replaced. 

Read the response from Paul Wiedefeld to CM Brandon Todd.

Todd's office said on Tuesday that they will check back with WMATA on how many responses were received to this latest round of requests, and if WMATA can provide an anticipated schedule for the completion of testing and an evaluation delivered.

This issue has been important to many residents, so hopefully more to come on the shaking houses in Petworth. 

(Ed Note: It isn't clear to Petworth News just how Wiedefeld and WMATA hope to get additional resident responses, as this is the first Petworth News has heard of the new study and no general information went out on area listservs for either study. They are targeting addresses, but seemingly are not doing public outreach and communications.)

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