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The Latest, Subway Shutdown: Official Asks for Steady Funds

Washington (AP) -- The Latest on a daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system (all times local):

6:15 p.m.

The chairman of the Washington area's Metro subway system says this week's system-wide shutdown demonstrates the need to re-invest in the system and find a steady source of support for it.

At an evening news conference, Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans said it shows the need to invest in the system's capital plan. But he said no progress has been made on the issue of a dedicated funding source for Metro.

He added that, "I realize that the worst time to ask for more funding is when you're doing poorly," but said the region must do its part to support Metro.

The nation's second-busiest transit system subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires. Officials said it will reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday.

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6 p.m.

A top official with the Washington area's Metro subway system says Wednesday's shutdown of the system was "necessary," and that safety problems were discovered.

At a Wednesday evening news conference, General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said that as of 5 p.m., inspectors had found 26 defects requiring replacement or repair.

He described three of them as "showstoppers" at the McPherson Square, Farragut North, and Potomac Avenue stations. He called them areas "where we would not be running trains in these conditions."

However, he also said the system would reopen at 5 a.m., as expected.

The nation's second-busiest transit system subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires.

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4:30 p.m.

As evening rush hour begins amid a subway shutdown in the nation's capital, Maryland highway and police official have adjusted traffic rules to try to reduce congestion.

The Maryland Department of Transportation's State Highway Administration and Maryland State Police have lifted the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane restrictions along eastbound US 50 between I-95 and US 301 in Bowie, and northbound I-270 between I-495 and MD 121. Normal HOV restrictions will resume at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Officials said drivers should plan ahead for longer trips.

The nation's second-busiest transit system subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires.

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4:15 p.m.

Amid a subway shutdown in the nation's capital, police plan to adjust traffic enforcement in an effort to keep commuters moving during the evening rush hour.

The Metropolitan Police Department said in a news release that officers will direct traffic at intersections, and red-light photo enforcement will be suspended at those intersections.

Nevertheless, they said drivers traveling to and from the city should expect major delays and should consider alternative routes, if possible.

Police also said motorists involved in minor accidents with no injuries should move their vehicles to a safe location and exchange insurance, license, and contact information.

The nation's second-busiest transit system subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires.

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4:05 p.m.

As subway service in the nation's capital is shut down for a safety inspection, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has told lawmakers he wants the Washington area's unspent transit grant funds to be redirected to improve safety.

Foxx told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that he has ordered the Federal Transit Administration to determine what federal grants to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority have unspent money and to put the money into safety improvements.

Besides WMATA's current effort to check the safety electric cables, Foxx said he is also concerned about three other safety issues — red-light running, use of emergency brakes and track integrity.

He called for a change in the agency's safety "culture."

Maryland Sen. Barabara Mikulski, the committee's chairman, vented her frustration with the shutdown.

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12:50 p.m.

Transportation officials say the morning rush hour in the nation's capital was longer and more congested than usual and commuters should remember to be patient during the evening rush.

District Department of Transportation spokesman Terry Owens said by phone that Wednesday's heavy morning rush lasted longer than usual, but there were no major incidents. He said a few disabled cars were cleared quickly.

Owens says more than 500 people signed up for a free 24-hour membership to Capital Bikeshare. About 82 people signed up during the same period last week. He says DC Streetcar ridership was up 13 percent over the same period last week.

The nation's second-busiest transit system subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires.

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12:45 p.m.

Officials say inspection teams have completed half of their work on the subway system in the nation's capital amid an unprecedented shutdown.

Metro tweeted around noon Wednesday that 22 inspection teams, including engineers, contractors and staff are out in the system. Metro says inspectors are walking 100 miles of underground track, checking power cables for potential issues. Officials expect to provide updates later in the day.

The nation's second-busiest transit system's subway was shut down for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires. Officials plan to reopen the subway at 5 a.m. Thursday unless inspectors find an immediate threat to passenger safety.

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11:30 a.m.

The leader of a federal employee union is slamming the government's decision to make workers use personal leave time if they can't get to work while the Washington area's Metro subway system is shut down.

American Federation of Government Employees president J. David Cox Sr. said Wednesday that many government workers don't have the option of working from home -- especially the lower-paid ones.

He said the Office of Personnel Management policy forced them into a "no-win decision" -- lose a day of paid leave or rely on expensive cabs or parking.

He urged officials to reverse the decision.

The nation's second-busiest transit system was shut down at midnight Tuesday for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables after a series of electrical fires. It's not expected to reopen until Thursday morning.

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10:35 a.m.

At the Pentagon, the morning rush typically starts and ends early. That was not the case Wednesday, with an unprecedented daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system for a safety inspection.

Instead, lots of workers were still making their way in at 9:30 a.m., parking at the nearby Pentagon City mall. Several commuters said that they doubled their normal commute times; it usually takes them one hour on Metro.

At a bus stop, tourists Al and Judy Herweyer of Chattanooga, Tennessee, tried to make sense of the jumble of bus routes to get to the National Mall. The first bus dropped them off in the wrong spot.

In town for only two days, they had picked a place to stay based on its convenience to Metro. But, Al Herweyer remarked as he waited, "at least the weather is nice."

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10:30 a.m.

It's quite a scene at the busy DC hub of Union Station, thanks to the daylong shutdown of the Metro subway system for a safety inspection.

Escalators down to the Metro stop are running Wednesday, but a metal grate prevents entrance. Police officers are stationed outside. Streets around the station are choked with traffic. Taxis crawl forward to pick up dozens of passengers waiting in line.

Kathy Walters of Ellicott City, Maryland, says her commute is long no matter what and she doesn't mind taking a cab.

She says: "We can all suffer a little bit today. ... If they can fix it and make it better, it's all good to me."

Keisha Keith took the city-run Circulator bus, which was free Wednesday. That replaced her usual bus-and-Metro trip. She says the bus was standing-room-only.

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10:30 a.m.

With an unprecedented daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system, traffic is even more gridlocked than usual.

Highways into Washington from northern Virginia were more choked with traffic than a normal weekday, with bumper-to-bumper traffic on interstates 95, 295 and 395.

Drivers with navigation apps avoided some of the highways and snaked slowly through the narrow streets of Old Town Alexandria and the Crystal City commercial district.

Even while avoiding the worst traffic, the 18-mile drive from Springfield, Virginia, to Washington's Union Station took about 90 minutes, and some downtown parking garages were full.

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10:30 a.m.

With an unprecedented daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system, some would-be riders said they were frustrated that they would have to pay more to take alternate transportation.

Fifty-five-year-old Sheila Tyson; her daughter, 26-year-old Portia Tyson; and Portia's friend, 26-year-old Amber Le Cotton arrived in Washington on Wednesday morning from Birmingham, Alabama, for a conference.

Sheila Tyson said she had been warned in an email from the airline that they would not be able to take Metro.

She said that means spending more money and having fewer souvenirs to take home and maybe even one fewer dinner out.

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9:15 a.m.

Commuters aren't the only ones affected by the shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system — airport travelers are, too.

When 71-year-old Lester Broughton and 68-year-old Glorious Broughton heard the news Tuesday, they knew they needed another plan to get to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for their Wednesday flight to Florida.

Glorious Broughton says the couple always takes Metro; it's a short ride from their home near Washington's Chinatown. They considered Uber, a taxi or SuperShuttle but thought that might be too expensive and crowded. So they decided to go to the airport Tuesday and wait overnight for their 11 a.m. flight.

Glorious Broughton says she would have preferred her own bed, but she believes in the Serenity Prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change."

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9 a.m.

Transportation officials are seeing more people on Washington-area roads as the region faces a commute without Metro's subway service.

DC Department of Transportation Deputy Director Greer Gillis said Wednesday that she's seeing heavier-than-normal rush-hour volume on the roads, particularly coming from Maryland. She expects more traffic and a longer-than-usual rush-hour, but traffic is still flowing early in the morning.

The system is shut down Wednesday for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables, prompted by a series of electrical fires.

Gillis says department personnel, including traffic control officers, will be ready to respond to problems. She says crossing guards will be available all day to help with pedestrians.

Gillis says construction activity is suspended during the morning and evening rush hours. She says DC Circulator will offer additional service on three routes and buses are free to reduce boarding delays.

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8:10 a.m.

With the unprecedented daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system, normally busy stations are eerily quiet and nearly empty.

The Springfield Metro station is one of the busiest in northern Virginia. But on Wednesday, the massive parking garage was mostly empty, even though parking was free. At 7:45 a.m., a handful of people waited for buses.

Fifty-two-year-old Leander Talley says his commute is normally easy — a bus ride, then a Metro rail ride. But it wasn't easy Wednesday. He says he set his alarm for 4 a.m. instead of the usual 5:30.

He says he'll catch five buses in a commute that will total

3.5 hours. He calls that crazy. He also says that with all of Metro's problems, he thought a shutdown might happen, but not with such short notice.

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7:40 a.m.

The closure of the Metro subway system in DC will mean a long walk home for 26-year-old Bob Jones of Arlington, Virginia.

Jones was waiting for his normal bus Wednesday morning, but he says he usually takes a train home. He says the walk from Metro Center to Roslyn will take him more than an hour.

Jones is a security analyst and contractor for the federal government, and he says half of his office was planning to working from home Wednesday.

Jones had no love for the Metro. He says it's always slow and crowded. But he wasn't too upset with the decision to close. He says that's better than "a fiery inferno."

The system shut down at midnight for an inspection of its third-rail power cables, prompted by a series of electrical fires.

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7:30 a.m.

Many Washington-area commuters are switching to plan B as they try to get to work without the Metro subway system, which is shut down for safety inspections.

Spokeswoman Morgan Dye said Wednesday that Metro isn't hearing reports of overcrowding on buses, but the rush hour is still young.

Fifty-one-year-old Michaun Jordan says she got up an hour early to commute from Baltimore to Virginia. She's a federal government finance officer and says she wanted to be on time. Normally she takes a commuter train to Union Station in Washington, then rail lines and a bus. But on Wednesday she took a $15 taxi from Union Station to Metro's Rosslyn station, where she'd catch a bus.

She says: "At first I was a bit disappointed. Then I thought about it, it's best to be safe," she said.

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7:20 a.m.

Not all commuters got the message that the Washington area's Metro subway system would be in an unprecedented daylong shutdown.

On Wednesday morning at Metro's Rosslyn station in Virginia, just over the Potomac River from Washington, the escalators were running but metal gates with bars closed the entrance. A sign says: "Urgent Message: The entire Metrorail system will be closed all day on Wednesday, March 16 to allow for emergency inspections of power cables. Your safety is our highest priority."

But 27-year-old Derya Demirci arrived hoping to take her normal train to her childcare job in Falls Church, Virginia. She looked disbelievingly at the sign and said: "I don't know what to do."

She settled taking a picture of the sign and asking her husband to drive her to work.

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This item has been corrected to show that the Rosslyn Metro station is just over the Potomac River from Washington, not from Arlington, Virginia.

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4:25 a.m.

An unprecedented daylong shutdown of the Washington area's Metro subway system will force commuters to spend a day without their most reliable form of transportation — and the source of their constant complaints.

Ridership on Metro has dipped as the system's reliability has deteriorated, and gripes on social media occur daily.

Still, more than 700,000 people hop on the trains every day because it's still the best way to get downtown from Maryland, Virginia and the city's outer neighborhoods. On Wednesday, they won't have that option.

The nation's second-busiest transit system was shut down at midnight Tuesday for a system-wide safety inspection of its third-rail power cables, prompted by a series of electrical fires. It will reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday unless inspectors find an immediate threat to passenger safety.

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Associated Press reporter Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.

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