Twenty-five of the 27 heavy metal hatches that would provide emergency escape routes from Metro's subway tunnels will be repaired or replaced as the result of inspections prompted by a fire in a subway tunnel two months ago.
Metro General Manager Richard S. Page told Rep. Herbert E. Harris II (D-Va.) yesterday that four of the hatches will be replaced, two require substantial repairs and 19 need minor repairs or adjustments to make them easier to open in the event of an emergency.
The inspection was conducted at the urging of Harris, who called a congressional hearing after a small trash fire on April 16 caused an hour's delay in rapid rail service between downtown and Rossyln.
It was not necessary to use a hatch for evacuation during the fire. But a subsequent inspection of hatches by a Metro official, in the company of a Harris aide, found one hatch near the Capitol South station that did not open easily.
A Metro spokesman said the hatches would be used only as a secondary escape route.They are located at underground stations that have only one exit or in sections of tunnel that are more than 2,500 feet from a station.
Page said repair or replacement of the hatches will be completed in six months, at a cost of not more than $225,000, and that part of the cost will be borne by contractors whose hatch installations did not meet specifications.