Metro General Manager Carmen E. Turner said yesterday that the transit agency is planning to require regular inspections of electrical wiring boxes at Metro stations to protect the public from hazards such as those documented last week by The Washington Post.
"We are inspecting all the facilities to make sure they are safe," Turner told the Metro board during its meeting yesterday.
Metro officials are developing procedures to ensure regular examination of the more than 1,400 electrical junction boxes that enclose wires carrying current from the station to the lights and gates in Metro's 26 outdoor stations, Turner said after the meeting. The procedures probably will include numbering the boxes to keep track of them, she said.
An article in Saturday's Post described four cases of exposed electrical wires in the parking areas of two Metro stations. The exposed wires were verified by an electrical engineer as public dangers more than four weeks after Metro said it had found no electrical problems during a systemwide inspection.
Metro conducted the inspection after the death June 4 of a 12-year-old Northeast girl who fell on an electrified metal plate in the sidewalk of the Addison Road station in Prince George's County.
Before the Addison Road accident, Metro maintenance workers did not check the boxes unless they were looking for the source of a specific problem, such as a faulty parking gate, a spokeswoman said.
In separate actions, the board:Voted to spend $1.2 million to buy six diesel engines to pull snow removal equipment along outdoor tracks during heavy storms. Metro plans to spend about $880,000 for six flat cars, which would be towed by the engines and would carry ice scrapers, snowplows and antifreeze spraying equipment.
Metro has four engines and four flat-cars, but they were unable to keep the rails free of ice during two heavy snowstorms last January. Said it would receive today the staff's recommendation on how the agency should release information about its accident investigations. Metro has no policy on how much detail to make public, and how quickly, said Safety Committee Chairman Carlton Sickles.
The agency, which is not subject to either federal or state freedom of information acts, has delayed releasing some information to protect its legal position in some cases, he said. For example, Metro has not released a report on its investigation into the death Dec. 6 of a 2-year-old Brentwood boy who was run over by a Metrobus as he and his mother left the bus.
"We want to make sure the information is provided to the community through the press as soon as possible and practicable . . . while protecting the taxpayers' money," Sickles said.