College Park Metro station to be closed for University of Maryland graduation

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Local,Maryland,Liz Essley,Metro,University of Maryland,Metro and Traffic

The University of Maryland will hold its commencement ceremony on Sunday, but those attending won't be able to take Metrorail there.

The College Park-University of Maryland station will be closed for the weekend, with two other Green Line stations, as Metro crews update tracks and help build a new test track. Meanwhile, the university that lent its name to the station expects 8,000 to students to graduate Sunday, with their families filling the school's Comcast Center, which holds 17,000.

Maryland's Action Committee for Transit issued a press release blaming Metro and the University of Maryland for not coordinating better. One of the organization's board members, Ted Van Houten, is graduating Sunday with a master's degree in urban planning.

"Eleven family members are visiting this weekend and staying in a hotel in College Park, and I don't own a car. How are we supposed to get around?" said Van Houten.

Metro will offer free shuttle bus service between the closed stations, and the University of Maryland offers a shuttle between campus and the station. But Metro warned customers to add an extra 35 minutes to their trips if they plan to take the agency's shuttles.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the agency won't consider rescheduling the track work.

"This work has been on the calendar since January," said Stessel, adding that the agency announced the schedule at the beginning of the year as well. "The work that's happening on weekends is not routine maintenance. It is critical rebuilding work, and weekends are when it happens. There is no good time to do this any other time." University of Maryland spokeswoman Beth Cavanaugh said school officials found out about the track work Monday.

"We are in communication with the authority," she said.

Stessel said few riders used the College Park station for last year's University of Maryland graduation ceremonies, with 262 in one hour the most concentrated dose of riders for the station that day.

Metro has been criticized before for scheduling track work during big events or federal holidays when many private employees still have to commute to work.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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