Tysons Corner, VA

The short Metro tunnel in Tysons is now the only one in Virginia without cell coverage, but Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said that should be remedied by next summer.

Calls inside the tunnel connecting the Tysons Corner and Greensboro Metro stations on the Silver Line are dropped regardless of cellular provider — interrupting 25 minutes of otherwise continuous cell coverage from the Wiehle-Reston to Ballston Metro stations.

The lack of cell service is more than a convenience issue. Experts have called it a glaring safety problem for the system — particularly in the wake of a death in a smoke-clogged tunnel in 2015.

On and off for 10 years, WMATA has been working with cell carriers to wire tunnels to provide continuous service, though the plan has hit several stumbling blocks along the way. The press release said the plan is to have all of the tunnels completed by June 2020:

The $120 million capital project to install dual radio and cellular cables within Metro’s tunnels began in February 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by June 2020. The labor-intensive process involves installing special trays on the tunnel walls to support the heavy cables and requires the track be taken out of service for the work to be done.

WMATA said 67 miles of the 100 total miles of track are now cell-accessible, including all of the Orange and Blue lines.

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