There was a time when “shovel-ready jobs” were going to put millions of people to work to fix the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure.” Remember?

Upgrading mass transit? Washington, D.C., has managed for years to ignore a very dangerous situation right beneath its feet, and the Federal Transit Administration has finally demanded that the Metro make fixes that have been neglected for years.

D.C.’s commuter rail system is so bad that fires have become a running joke and even spawned the mostly automated Twitter feed, @IsMetroOnFire.

Unfortunately, things turned deadly in January when a woman died and more than 80 others were taken to the hospital after a train was stuck in a dark, smoke-filled tunnel for an estimated 40 minutes before passengers were evacuated. An investigation found that another train blocking the escape route had been abandoned, exhaust fans were not immediately operational, and antennas meant to allow firefighters to communicate via two-way radio with the surface had been out for several days.

In April, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on safety failures on the Metro, one day before 154 passengers found themselves stuck in a tunnel, possibly under the Potomac River.

On Thursday, officials announced that the Metro would close sections of track for 16 days to make repairs demanded by the FTA.

Note that these “immediate” fixes come a month after testimony that the Metro had fallen years behind its routine maintenance schedule and needed $25 billion over 10 years to catch up.

It didn’t. The Republicans did. Just ask President Obama.

“The problem we have is that the Republican Congress has been resistant to really taking on this problem in a serious way,” the president told reporters last Friday when asked about the Metro’s safety problems. “And the reason is because of an ideology that says, government spending is necessarily bad.”