Hi Ho Silver Line

Large-scale, highly visible projects come along every so often for contractors. Though each contract and project is unique and important in its own right, certain ones rise to the top of a portfolio. In one such instance, Truland Walker Seal Transportation (TWST) tapped into its reputation as a trusted contractor to work on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is all located in the state of Virginia.

According to Senior Project Manager Bruce Harry, “This project is Phase 1 of a major extension of the existing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [WMATA] 106-mile Metrorail system. When the entire project is completed, Washington Dulles International Airport will be accessible via Metrorail. Phase 1 is 11.6-miles, from the current [Metro] Orange Line, approximately 2,000 feet east of West Falls Church, to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, Va. Wiehle Avenue is the westernmost of five stations included in Phase 1 of the extension, with the others being in the heavily developed Tysons Corner area.
“The entire extension will be 23 miles, with the second 11.5-mile phase encompassing six stations in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties,” Harry said.

The regional transit system extension project has been in the discussion and planning stages since 1990 and has been the source of much debate. As the route and station plans were publicized, controversy arose over the question of whether to put the Tysons Corner portion above or below ground. The above-ground option won in the end. In addition to extending Metro service to Dulles Airport, the expansion provides service to some of the most congested and rapidly developing areas within the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

The rail extension is owned and managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). When construction is completed, the extension will be turned over to WMATA.

Contractor credentials
TWST is one of the nation’s largest electrical contracting firms exclusively dedicated to transportation infrastructure. TWST was formed in June 2010, when Truland Systems Corp., Reston, Va. acquired long-time joint-venture partner, Walker Seal Electric Co. Inc., Fairfax, Va. Together, these firms’ corporate resume extends back to 1913 and includes work performed for such rail systems as Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration, Virginia Railway Express, Hampton Roads Transit, and, of course, WMATA. Truland and Walker Seal Electric have provided construction and maintenance services for Metro since the system opened in 1976 and have participated in the majority of the Metro expansion and upgrade projects since that time.

From 2002 until the acquisition, Walker Seal Electric had been Truland’s joint-venture partner on significant Metro projects, including the expansion of the Navy Yard Station to serve Nationals Park baseball stadium in Washington, D.C., the Blue Line extension to Largo, Md., and the Shady Grove Rail Yard expansion, also in Maryland. Through the joint venture, the companies provided the customer with a single entity responsible for the complete electrical scope, including rail-specific high- and medium-voltage systems as well as communications, security and special systems.

Upon acquiring Walker Seal Electric, Truland opted to establish a separate business unit to focus on the surface transportation and aviation markets exclusively. This decision was due, in part, to the fact that many systems and construction methods are unique to transportation and require specialized training and experience. Therefore, the two firms employed engineers, management/supervisory and craft labor personnel with decades of experience in rail, airport and other transit infrastructure construction. Forming a separate business unit enables the entity to concentrate and further develop this expertise. The proficiency, in combination with a substantial transit resume and more than $75 million in transit work under contract, made the formation of TWST the optimal vehicle for pursuing opportunities in the growing transportation market.

Project parameters
TWST is responsible for a vast amount of systems to be designed, furnished, installed, tested and documented.

In the transit arena, constant and reliable communications systems are essential for the safety and security of all workers, passengers and general visitors. The telephone system is one of TWST’s responsibilities. The voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system is designed to support all telephones installed in new facilities for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The design also includes analog emergency trip station (ETS) telephones in ETS cabinets along the rail right-of-way and at passenger stations, which are connected to station located equipment that supports the telephone system. Furthermore, the project includes the design of an integrated intercommunications system (IIS) to provide clear emergency voice communications between passengers and the station managers and kiosk attendants. TWST designed the system to account for the telephone system’s future expansion as needs change.

TWST also is installing the passenger information display system (PIDS). The PIDS equipment includes variable message sign displays located throughout the station platforms and entrance areas. It is a requirement of the PIDS design that all software and hardware operate seamlessly with -WMATA’s existing PIDS.

An intelligent fire and intrusion alarm system covering the right-of-way, passenger stations and ancillary buildings will enhance the overall safety and security of the site and facility. Additionally, a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system will be installed to provide kiosk attendants with the ability to view the passenger station platforms, escalators, automatic fare collection vending machines, all elevators, mezzanine areas, passageways and areas of rescue assistance within the passenger station limits.

This system will then be tied in to network video recorders in the primary communications room for security monitoring and recording purposes. Used in conjunction with the more traditional forms of safety and security are more advanced systems, including kiosk systems to monitor and control FIA, CCTV, IP public address, elevators, escalators, ISS and an automated energy management system.

TWST also is responsible for the provision of a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system, which will provide remote indication and control of traction power substations, tie breaker stations, AC switchboard rooms, and ventilation and other systems. An independent IP public address system also will be installed in each passenger station for general purpose and emergency evacuation announcements.
A local area network/wide area network (LAN/WAN) will be installed throughout the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. A fully redundant fiber optic backbone installed by TWST along the entire Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Phase 1 right-of-way will serve as the transport medium for all LAN/WAN, train control and other optical-based traffic.

Smooth ride
The project, thus far, has flowed smoothly.

According to Harry, “One significant challenge facing Truland Walker Seal Transportation was the fact that this project had multiple contracting entities and stakeholders. The project owner is the MWAA, the occupant/operator is WMATA, and the contractor (our direct customer) is Dulles Transit Partners LLC. Each of these entities has input on the project, which has the potential to affect the schedule, budget and/or quality. We used our prior experience with MWAA and WMATA on similar projects to schedule coordination meetings with all of the stakeholders and ensure that each entity was represented by an individual able to actively participate in the coordination process. In a similar manner, we used our experience on rail system extension projects, such as the Largo Blue Line extension, to guide the engagement of other trades. Specifically, we knew at what point in the iterative design process we needed to get input and feedback from the civil design/builder, the mechanical design/builder, and so on. Involving them too early would mean that there was nothing substantive for them to give feedback on and involving them too late would mean that rework would be required to incorporate their input, both of which could increase cost and jeopardize the timely achievement of schedule milestones.”

Phase 1 is expected to begin operating in 2013.

STONG, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at jennifer.stong@comcast.net.

About the Author

Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas

Freelance Writer
Jennifer Leah Stong-Michas is a freelance writer who lives in central Pennsylvania.

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