Riders beware – major works begins Monday at the Van Ness Metro stop on its escalators. And the work is part of a major escalator rehabilitation work there that will last three years (yes, you read correctly — three years.)
On Monday, the work starts as Metro is closing the west entrance of the Van Ness stop. It is part of a plan to begin to install four new escalators at the entrance of that side of the stop.
The current escalators at the Van Ness stop, which straddles Connecticut Avenue NW, are almost 35 years old, transit officials said. They’ve exceeded their useful life in Metro speak. The Van Ness Metro stop opened in 1981 and nearly 6,400 passengers on an average weekday use the stop.
Transit officials said they expect the new escalators will be “more durable and reliable.”One of the new escalators is into the station’s west entrance; the other three new ones are longer units that will go into the station on its west side.
The east entrance of the station on Connecticut Avenue NW will not be impacted.
Metro hired KONE as the contractor for the $6.5 million Van Ness project. The contractor is also working to replace more than 120 escalators throughout the Metro system.
Good news — new escalators are coming. The bad news — they’ll put in the new escalators one at a time. The work will begin first on the escalators at the Van Ness stop going from landing to the mezzanine and then they’ll work on the shorter entrance to the landing escalator.
There will still be some escalators inside the station that are available. And the east side escalators to enter the station will remain open.
How long will riders have to put up with the escalator work headaches?
In a question-and-answer on its web site, Metro said it will take about 40 weeks for each escalator. That includes doing the preparation of the site, demolition, construction, installation and testing, Metro said.
Why so long?
Metro says that because the escalators are long — 270 feet — their “replacement is more complicated than an average escalator replacement.” It has a detailed explanation that cranes are needed to move parts of the escalator to get them in and out.
To keep the station open, Metro said, the escalators will be replaced “one at a time rather than all at once.”
Metro went on, “And for safety reasons, the work can only be conducted when the station is closed to customers and the adjacent escalators are not in service. Taken together, these factors extend the project timeline to about three years.”
Metro also gives tips on how this will affect riders using the station. It warns it will have escalator technicians on standby to respond “immediately to any outage affecting the two available escalators.” But it warns, things could change and there could be a need to temporarily close the station to “prevent safety hazards related to overcrowding.”
Bottom line commuters — pack some patience.