2001: The Completion of the Washington Metro System in its Original Form

January 13, 2001

The last remaining section of the Washington Metro rapid transit system as originally planned was opened to passengers. This 6.5-mile (10.5-kilometer) segment consisted of the final five Green Line stations — Congress Heights, Southern Avenue, Naylor Road, Suitland, and Branch Avenue. (Congress Heights is in Washington, D.C., while the other stations are situated in Prince George’s County, Maryland.)

The official completion of the Green Line took place nearly a quarter-century after the first part of the Metro system had opened. That inaugural stretch was the 4.6-mile (7.4-kilometer) segment between Rhode Island Avenue and Farragut North on the Red Line.

The Saturday morning debut of the last portion of the Green Line was celebrated with great fanfare at one of those newly inaugurated stations, specifically the Branch Avenue station at the end of the line in the community of Suitland. The next day’s edition of the Washington Post highlighted the variety of people at that island-platformed station for the grand opening.

“They were all there yesterday: rail fans, residents, politicians, those who work for Metro now and those long retired,” reported the newspaper. “There were proclamations and plaques and green carnations.” As the Washington Post also confirmed, a recording of the theme music from 2001: A Space Odyssey was blared from speakers that had been mounted on the Branch Avenue station platform.

The public officials on hand for festivities at the station included Parris N. Glendening, the governor of Maryland. He proclaimed that the completion of the original 103-mile (166-kilometer) Metro system was “not just an end, but a beginning.” Decatur Trotter, a Maryland state senator who represented Prince George’s County on Metro’s board of directors, sounded a similar theme in his own remarks. Trotter said, “This may be the end of the Green Line, but it’s certainly not the end of the line for Metro.”

Subsequent additions to the Metro system verify that the opening of the Congress Heights- Branch Avenue of the Green Line did not mean the actual end of construction on that rapid transit network. Less than four years after the completion of the Green Line, for example a 3.2-mile (5.5-kilometer) extension of the Blue Line to a new station in the community of Lake Arbor in Prince George’s County was opened.

The Washington Metro now covers 129 miles (208 kilometers) altogether. This system includes a total of six lines (Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Green, Silver) and 97 stations. The Green Line itself encompasses 21 stations and 23 miles (37.1 kilometers). The Branch Avenue station remains the Green Line’s southeastern terminus; the northeastern endpoint for this line is the station in the Prince George’s County city of Greenbelt.

(The above photo was taken at the Branch Avenue station in 2006.)

Photo Credit: Ben Schumin (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

Additional information on the completion of the Washington Metro in its original form is available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/2001/01/14/all-metro-doors-now-open/785880cb-3d6c-423a-923e-acd8f7b5817d/

For more information on the history of the Washington Metro, please check out https://chnm.gmu.edu/metro/index.html and https://www.urbanrail.net/am/wash/washington.htm

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