WASHINGTON -- Metro is warning riders that a major rail work that started Monday will mean 14 days of slowdowns and crowding.

The transit agency is rebuilding its bridge over the Potomac River between Virginia and The District, slowing Blue Line trains and effectively stopping Yellow Line service system-wide.

"Customers may experience crowding" during the 14-day shutdown, said Metro.

Work started Monday and runs through Sunday, December 9.

Easily seen from I-395, the half-mile rail bridge connects Pentagon Metro and L'Enfant Plaza. Metro said Virginia riders trying to get downtown should take the Blue Line instead, but cautions its tunnel near Rosslyn can only handle so many trains.

Blue Line trains, which typically arrive every 8 minutes, will be slowed to every 16 minutes. After 8 p.m., Blue Line trains will come every 20 minutes.

The slowdowns could be especially maddening for those planning to take Metro after arriving at Reagan National Airport.

Airport officials have encouraged passengers to take Metro while a $1 billion airport improvement project is causing some traffic delays.

Metro announced the project in February, calling it a "rebuild" of rail infrastructure, steel, and concrete across the bridge span.

"Due to the limited clearance, heavy equipment needed, and location over the river, the only safe way to go about doing this work is to close the bridge," said Metro Spokesman Dan Stessel.

Metro has special shuttle buses to get riders from Virginia downtown more swiftly:

  • Between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon, connecting to L'Enfant Plaza from opening until 8:00 p.m.
  • Nonstop between Franconia-Springfield and L'Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.
  • Between Crystal City and L'Enfant Plaza, rush hour only.

Metro says some customers traveling between Virginia and downtown might consider VRE train service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street to L'Enfant Plaza or Union Station.