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Metro to reopen at 2 p.m. Tuesday

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Photo - The closed Rockville Metro station. (Liz Farmer/Examiner)
The closed Rockville Metro station. (Liz Farmer/Examiner)
Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro planned to reopen its rail and bus systems at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, ending the longest weather-related rail closure in the system's 37-year history.

(See a photo gallery of storm images and follow the latest updates from the Examiner)

The agency planned to operate with Sunday levels of service, except for bus routes that do not normally run on weekends, which will operate on normal weekday schedules.

MetroAccess will remain closed all Tuesday, though.

However, the agency warns riders on the rail and bus systems to expect delays and possible detours.

(Watch storm videos from the D.C. region and the latest videos from around the country)

"We definitely do not have the damage of New York," Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. "The early signs are that we weathered the storm very well."

Metro expects to be able to run normal service on Wednesday.

Crews had been up since the early morning hours surveying bus routes and the rail tracks to see what type of damage the system sustained -- and when they could reopen the system.

(Need shelter? See a map of locations)

Power was intact throughout the rail system, Stessel said, despite some localized outages amid the storm. And he said the flooding that occurred at areas like Federal Triangle was minimal, similar to the water infiltration that the agency often sees with rain.

The switches and signals on the rail system all appear to be working, as crews tested them every hour throughout the storm. But the question was whether the tracks had any downed trees, debris or washouts on them.

Crews monitored the system overnight. But once daylight broke, the agency's prime mover equipment traveled on each of the five rail lines so crews could inspect tracks with better light, Stessel said.

Meanwhile, bus supervisors had been running bus routes since about 3 a.m. looking for hazards.

Despite what seemed to be just a glancing blow from Sandy locally, Metro stood by its decision to close all day Monday and Tuesday morning. "Given the potential for damage and the possibilities for injuries to customers and employees, we made a prudent decision," Stessel said.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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