Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials are slated to discuss an aggressive maintenance schedule at Bethesda Metro stops when they come to a citizens advisory board meeting on Monday.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said WMATA understands the inconvenience of weekend station closings and train delays, but the system must “catch up” on maintenance after years of work that was pushed off.

“This is not the position we want to be in,” Stessel said. “Much of it is safety-related. When that catch-up phase is done, we will back off from doing track work as frequently.”

Metro has made a commitment to replace or rehabilitate many facets of the Red Line – insulator renewal (meaning the third rail), water and tunnel leak repairs, platform reconstruction, electrical upgrades and the replacement of track circuit modules, included.

Stessel characterized that process as more than a year-old and a few years away from completion.

On the weekends of Sept. 21-Sept. 23 and Oct. 19-Oct. 21 the Bethesda and Medical Center Metro stations were closed for work on both tracks. Metro replaced trains with free shuttle buses between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Friendship Heights.

“Weekends are our best opportunity to get the work done. If you think about the work window that’s available to us overnight after the system closes, that’s really only about three hours, maybe three and a half,” Stessel said. “So weekends are when the action happens, the best way to maximize productivity to get as much done as possible.”

Members of the Western Montgomery Citizens Advisory Board are likely to hear the same answers at their November meeting on Monday at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.

For the next two months no major track work that will close stations or single track on the west side of the Red Line is scheduled.

Stessel said Metro expects to have its weekend track work schedule for the first six months of 2013 set up in the next few weeks.

Flickr photo by SubiYurek