Crews Pick Up Pace to Renovate Metro Station

By Daniel LeDuc
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 8, 2008

Hundreds of construction workers are scrambling to get the new Nationals ballpark ready for opening day. A block away, a smaller but no less determined workforce is laboring on a project seen as critical to the stadium's success: renovations to Metro's Navy Yard Station.

While most of the public's attention has focused on the big new ballpark, getting there could be a major problem. Parking will be at a premium near Nationals Park, now going up along South Capitol Street in Southeast Washington, and traffic delays are likely.

To ease the crunch, traffic planners anticipate -- and Nationals executives fervently hope -- that at least half of the fans will take Metro.

That has meant a tripling of capacity at the Navy Yard Station, on Metro's Green Line, to 15,000 passengers an hour from 5,000. Even that will not be sufficient. A sellout game would mean about 41,000 fans, and if half of them were to ride Metro, it would take more than a hour to move everyone through the expanded station.

Metro plans 14 extra trains on game days.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the baseball team are launching an aggressive public-education campaign this month about traveling to the new stadium. From the station, it is a one-block walk to the ballpark. "You go there once, you get the hang of it," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said. "You go there twice, you're a veteran."

The station renovation is a $20 million project, paid for with federal funds, with an excavation of 65 feet and installation of elevators, ticket kiosks and eight more turnstiles, bringing the total to 13.

Metro is also considering flat-panel TVs at the station entrance, which would post train information and perhaps carry video telecasts of the games.

The Navy Yard stop has remained open throughout construction, using an entrance two blocks away on M Street at New Jersey Avenue, which added two turnstiles. "It's an active station," project manager Brett Ikeda said. "It's always been operational."

Lately, crews have been working seven days a week, and construction project managers promise to have the renovated station open by March 29, when the Nationals play in exhibition against the Baltimore Orioles in the ballpark's inaugural game.

If this was a horse race, it would be a photo finish.

The station looks like a construction site, with workers carrying steel beams four stories up and down the stilled escalators. Come March 29, it still will. The station sits beneath an office building under development by Monument Realty at M and Half streets NE. Construction of the building is to be completed in summer 2009.

Work on the station started 13 months ago and initially moved slowly. City construction permits were delayed, and in August the project was two months behind schedule, said Mamoud Hosseini, president of Clark Civil, a division of Clark Construction. Clark Civil is renovating the station while another division works on the building overhead and another builds the ballpark.

Now, Hosseini said, the station renovation is back on schedule, with all of the inside work to be finished by the end of this month. Work is also proceeding at street level, where the kiosk, ticket machines and turnstiles are to be installed.

Fans will come up three escalators or one of the new elevators into the office building's lobby. One wall will be open, fenced with chain link, as construction continues.

Metro is planning two special commemorative SmarTrip cards. One will be red with the "W" Nationals logo, and the other will be a color rendering of the ballpark's interior. The agency also has created a Web site,, with maps and directions.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company