By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; B04
Rush-hour congestion at the Farragut North Metro station - aggravated by structural repairs and escalator work - will likely continue for much of the year, according to Metro work schedules.
Riders have reported platforms so crowded during peak periods that customers often face delays of five minutes or more in moving through the fare gates.
A large construction project is underway to repair and shore up concrete structures at the station, including building a new support column. The project has required a large area of the platform near the L Street exits to be blocked off for more than a year.
On Monday, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said the work would last into the summer.
"We will go in and jack up the area and support it," said Dave Kubicek, Metro's acting deputy general manager. He said that additional support is needed because a 70- to 80-inch-wide pressurized city water main runs above that area.
A year ago, Metro officials estimated the repairs would take about two weeks.
A Metro maintenance crew found cracks in the station ceiling and moisture seeping through during a routine inspection in November 2009.
"A lot of work is taking place in the enclosed area" when the station is closed at night, Taubenkibel said, so customers do not see it.
"It's completely safe," he added.
Taubenkibel said Metro is managing the crowds. "We have supervisors that do monitor conditions at the Farragut North station and can assist with any issues that arise," he said.
Crews also are replacing ceiling tiles. A District Department of Transportation construction project on Connecticut Avenue above the station accidentally penetrated the roof in November, causing pieces of debris to fall onto the platform near the L Street exits.
Disabled escalators contribute to the station's congestion.
Three escalators were out at the station Monday, according to Metro's escalator advisory page - two between the mezzanine and platform, and one between the mezzanine and street.
One of the escalators is undergoing an overhaul as part of a modernization program started in December at the Farragut North, Dupont Circle and Metro Center stations. That escalator is scheduled to be up and running by March 31.
The escalator work is part of a major upgrade of the Red Line. The $117 million program is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2013, according to Metro.
A second escalator is out of service so that riders can go either up and down it while the first escalator is modernized. The third escalator, leading to the street, is down for repairs and is expected to be operating again by Thursday, the report shows.
More escalator work at the station is planned for the rest of the year, with all seven mezzanine-to-platform escalators being overhauled, Taubenkibel said.