A brighter mezzanine features new light strips that are similar to fixtures at Gallery Place and Judiciary Square stations. (Courtesy of WMATA)

Five months after Metro announced that it would make the Bethesda station a test case for future design changes, officials said Wednesday that a big round of improvements is complete.

The updates include a new stairway to help improve rush-hour congestion and a brighter mezzanine area that features similar lighting fixtures to those installed at the Gallery Place and Judiciary Square stations.

The Bethesda station was chosen as a pilot, in part, because the station’s escalators are due to be replaced next year. The proposals include lighter interior colors to replace “Metro brown” and a new “information wall” around the fare machines.

A new stairway was added to ease congestion during rush hour. (Courtesy of WMATA) A new stairway was added to ease congestion during rush hour. (Courtesy of WMATA)

But in addition to a rash of complaints from riders who said that the funds would be better spent on maintenance, the initial plans drew scrutiny from some historic preservationists. Robert Bruegmann, who wrote a book on Metro’s principal architect, Harry Weese, told The Washington Post that the design was like “taking a Victorian storefront and slapping aluminum siding on it.”

Ivo Karadimov, the manager of architecture for Metro, pulled back on some of the original designs, including plans to replace bronze railings with stainless steel and concrete parapets with glass.

But other elements of the design are moving forward, including improvements to the fare machine array, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. He declined to give a specific timetable for individual changes, but said “riders will see movement on a number of fronts, concurrently, over the next 18 months.”

After completing the Bethesda prototype, the transit agency will then decide if it will roll out the effort to all or much of the 86-station system.