Friendship Heights Escalator Replacement

On March 27, 2017, Metro began the replacement of the three long entrance escalators at Friendship Heights Station.

The current escalators, which are almost 35 years old and have exceeded their useful life, will be replaced with brand new escalators that are safer, more durable and reliable. The project also includes the replacement of three shorter escalators between the landing and bus bay or street, two of which have already been completed.  Metro's contractor, KONE, will replace the remaining four escalators beginning with the removal of the second small escalator between the bus bay and landing then removing and replacing the three longer escalators one at a time.

During construction, customers using the Western Avenue entrance will be able to access the station via the elevator and two escalators. The stairs and one escalator will remain open for access to the bus bay.

At 130 feet long, the Friendship Heights entrance escalators transport riders a vertical distance of 65 feet (approximately six stories) from the station mezzanine to the entrance landing. They will be replaced with more reliable units as part of Metro's contract with KONE to replace more than 130 escalators across the Metrorail system.

As a result of Metro's major capital investment, Metro's escalator availability score (a measure of how many escalators are running at any given time) has increased to nearly 94 percent, the highest level in six years. Metro owns, operates and maintains the largest fleet of escalators in the United States, including some of the longest in the world.

How long will the project take?

Each escalator will require approximately 38 weeks for site preparation, demolition, construction, installation, and testing. As a result, replacing all four escalators in succession will take approximately 2 ½ years. Metro engineers will work closely with the project contractor, KONE, to ensure the work is done as safely and efficiently as possible.

Why will it take so long?

The Friendship Heights escalators are 130 feet long and transport riders a vertical distance of 65 feet from the station mezzanine to the entrance landing. Replacing escalators this large in a space this tight -- all while keeping the station open -- presents unique challenges that simply don't compare to shopping malls or airports. The project will require an elaborate system of cranes, trusses and pulleys to safely move multi-ton escalator components in and out of the worksite. 

To keep the station open, the escalators will be replaced one at a time rather than all at once. For safety reasons, the work can only be conducted when the station is closed to customers and the adjacent escalators are not in service. Taken together, these factors extend the project timeline to about 34 months. However, portions of the new escalators are manufactured in advance and are in storage so the project can move forward efficiently.

How will this work affect my trip?

Customers can continue to use the Western Avenue entrance. Instead of having three escalators available from the landing to the mezzanine, only two will be available during the project: one going up, and one going down. The elevator at this entrance will remain in service during construction. Metro will have escalator technicians on standby at Friendship Heights to respond immediately to any outage affecting the two available escalators. Customers may also consider using the Jennifer Street entrance, which is unaffected by this project.

Riders should be aware that, in the event of a service disruption, the station may need to be temporarily closed if overcrowding presents a safety concern.

When will Friendship Heights Station need to be closed?

Metro may need to temporarily close the station to prevent overcrowding during service disruptions or other events – such as a disabled train, medical emergency, infrastructure problem or power failure. This may happen with little notice. When the station is temporarily closed, Red Line trains will bypass the station in both directions and passengers on the platform must exit the station.  

How will I know if the station is closed?

Sign up for MetroAlerts to receive emails or text messages alerting you whenever there is a disruption on the Red Line or closure of the Friendship Heights. MetroAlerts will send another notification when the station has reopened. You can sign up at

What is Metro doing to ensure safe operations?

For the duration of the project, Metro Transit Police, emergency management, rail supervision and escalator technicians will be on hand at Friendship Heights station during hours the Metrorail system is open. The personnel at the station will continually monitor operations and take appropriate steps to ensure that the station is not overcrowded and that escalators and elevators remain available for entry and exit. While we know that a temporarily closure of Friendship Heights is inconvenient, please understand that your safety is our absolute highest priority.

Friendship Heights Station Quick Facts

  • Friendship Heights Station opened August 25, 1984
  • Friendship Heights Station serves nearly 8,100 passengers on an average weekday
  • Friendship Heights's longer entrance escalators are 130 feet long and rise 65 feet  
  • Stay informed by visiting this page or call Customer Service at (202) 637-7000