Metro completes escalator replacement project at Dupont Circle south entrance
Entrance now open for customer use with three new "transit grade" escalators
Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles joined local officials today to cut the ribbon on three new "transit-grade" escalators at Dupont Circle's south entrance, marking the completion of an 8 ½-month project to improve reliability and safety for customers using the station.
Completed on time and on budget, the replacement project was necessary because the three escalators formerly serving the south entrance were among the least reliable in the Metrorail system. The original manufacturer had gone out of business and the units were "non-standard," thereby making it nearly impossible to find replacement parts to keep them in service.
"This project is just one visible example of how we?re working to improve safety and reliability throughout the entire Metro system," said Sarles. "Thanks to projects like this, along with improved maintenance across the system, we are seeing results. Escalator availability today is above 90 percent, an increase of 8 percent over last year."
Along with the three escalators that were replaced last year at Foggy Bottom, the new escalators at Dupont Circle's south entrance are just the beginning of Metro?s multi-year plan to improve escalator and elevator reliability across the system. Under the plan, 94 escalators are scheduled for full replacement over the next seven years.
"Too often, customers who use this station were faced with the unpleasant choice of climbing 85 feet and more than 100 steps to the surface, or turning back and using the north entrance instead," said District of Columbia Councilmember and Metro Board Member Muriel Bowser. "This is an example of the hard work and investment that we are making, together with our regional and federal partners, to improve safety and reliability. We also thank our customers and the station?s neighbors for their patience and understanding during the construction of this important improvement."
In what is considered one of Metro's largest and most complex escalator projects in its history, the agency?s planning and construction forces faced significant engineering challenges. Working in a narrow space with the proportions of a drinking straw, the old escalators, each weighing nearly 55 tons, had to be cut into 24 separate sections and individually moved out of the entrance on three separate cranes. Then each section of the new escalators had to be installed ? 24 sections in all, each traveling on 3 cranes. In total, there were nearly 150 crane ?picks? during the project, many happening late at night with 19th Street closed to vehicular traffic.
At today's event, Sarles thanked Metro customers for their patience. "I realize the closure of this entrance has been inconvenient for our customers and the local businesses in the area, and I thank them for their patience and understanding," he said. "I especially want to acknowledge the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District for partnering with us to minimize customer inconvenience."
News release issued at 12:08 pm, October 21, 2012.