Metro has secured a permit to install a temporary cooling tower outside Farragut North station, resolving a dispute over the placement of the noisy contraption and ensuring that chilled air will flow to two Red Line stations by next week, the agency said Tuesday. Agency officials said they’ve come up with a permanent solution for the problem they’ve been trying to fix for more than three years.
Metro stations are not air-conditioned, but there is a mechanical air-cooling system that has the ability to make the stations about six degrees cooler than the air outside.
Farragut North and Dupont Circle stations have not had a reliable chiller for more than three years, when a set of 500-foot pipes under Connecticut Avenue sprang leaks and prevented water from flowing to a cooling tower 13 stories above. Metro installed a temporary cooling tower on the thoroughfare last year, providing relief to the stations’ estimated 39,000 daily users. But the dumpster-size machine was so disruptive that local businesses petitioned to have it moved, delaying the tower’s installation this year as Metro worked to secure permits from the District Department of Transportation.
Metro says the new location, in the left lane of northbound Connecticut Avenue NW, was selected “in consultation with the community.” The development was first reported by NBC Washington.
The agency has tried multiple fixes for the failed pipes, including patching the holes and using a sealant for the leaks. When none of them worked, Metro concluded it would have to dig up the busy stretch of Connecticut Avenue and replace them.
Now, the agency says, the lane closure will allow it to install the new pipes, which run below the left lane of Connecticut Avenue between L and Desales streets NW, “resolving the long-standing issue with the chiller system,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.
The agency said the repairs are expected to be completed by fall. Further details were not immediately available.
The temporary tower, meanwhile, is expected to be installed near Connecticut and L streets this week and remain in place until October. Starting Wednesday evening after rush hour, DDOT said, one lane of Northbound Connecticut Avenue NW will be closed from L to M streets. Two other lanes are expected to remain open around the clock as the repairs are undertaken.