Honestly, is anyone surprised?
The stations have literally been complete for almost 3 years now, and IIRC, I read somewhere that there are components on Phase II that are actually about to be out of warranty and MWAA/WMATA is essentially going to have to fork over money to the contractor if they want to have the warranties removed. I am honestly so flabbergasted as I thought the reasoning for shutting down the entire Silver Line last summer as it would speed along the project, and Wiedefeld literally just said either in January or February that the extension was on track for a Fall 2021 opening.
I wanted to come back to this and note some of the things that have changed:
1. It's not a good look for MWAA, given all the problems that Phase 2 has had. I'm not sure what happened, but they've been systemic.
The initial delays were due to a systemic design change related to new stormwater regulations. OK, fine. Then they fell behind on construction (it happens), and then the shoddy workmanship came to light. I don't know if it's because the MWAA project management is different, or because the political interests in Virginia demanded they not use a Project Labor Agreement, or just because the contractors are different or what... but it's a mess.
MWAA can obviously deliver other large capital projects just fine. I'm not sure if the issues here are just a matter of sunlight, and we're only privy to them because of the handoff between MWAA and WMATA, or what.
2. WMATA is feeling their oats and scrutinizing every last detail. Given the feedback loop with the increased scrutiny as well as an agency-wide focus on repair (remember that when Phase 1 opened, that was before SafeTrack and before Metro's dedicated capital funding).
They've also had a list of issues now that they've owned and operated Phase 1 for six years, giving them a lot of clues about what to look for.
3. The Pandemic: normally, there would be immense pressure (public and financial) to get the thing open as fast as possible. But with the pandemic, WMATA has the opposite pressure. They want to delay the start-up operating costs as long as they can and have support in that from their funders (e.g. local jurisdictions). The public pressure from riders is greatly diminished. MWAA wants to be done, but they have very little leverage to speed things up.
Honestly at this point I don't see the extension opening before November 2022. I guarantee you WMATA is going to find something they aren't happy with on the extension upon accepting it and starting testing, and will drag their feet with MWAA and the contractors in rectifying the issue.
What a joke
Metro is saying February 2022: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tr ... story.html
And given that they're the ones in control of that timeline and not MWAA, there's no reason to doubt that date. It's also an announcement that's clearly linked to the passage of the new Rescue bill in congress, which removes a ton of uncertainty from WMATA's budget projections.
As a practical matter, I'm sure they'd like to open the new line with the virus under control and have a chance to make a great first impression with ridership, too.