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Posted at 10:10 AM ET, 01/19/2011

New escalators for Foggy Bottom

By Robert Thomson

The transit authority is about to begin a year-long project that should ease the notorious bottleneck for Metrorail riders trying to get in and out of the Foggy Bottom Station.

Next Monday, workers will start replacing the three old, often-out-of-service escalators with three new ones. Also, they will add a staircase adjacent to that bank of escalators between 23rd Street NW and the station mezzanine. Above it all will be a canopy to better protect the works from the weather.

There was some escalator work involved in the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend project that shut Foggy Bottom for three days, but that was routine maintenance on the station's other escalators. Metro has had the more elaborate escalator replacement in its plans for a long time. It was an add-on to the $213 million Red Line rehabilitation program. The Foggy Bottom part will cost $6 million.

Foggy Bottom's escalators have long been cursed by riders, because they must all funnel through one station exit. Frequently, they would find two of the aging escalators out of service for repairs. That would require Metro to turn off the remaining escalator so riders could use it as a staircase. That created long lines on the mezzanine and street as people made their way slowly up and down.

David Lacosse, director of Metro's escalator and elevator office for about seven years, told me recently that there's enough room in that bank of three escalators to squeeze in a real staircase during the reconstruction. That addition will be a big improvement. It's too bad planners back in the 1970s couldn't have worked in more staircases, especially at stations like Foggy Bottom, where the walk up and down is relatively short.

The only other escalator replacement on tap in the near future will be at the south entrance to Dupont Circle. While it would be great to replace most of them, Lacosse noted, it would also be way more expensive than the Metro capital budget would allow. Escalators have a schedule similar to rail cars. Planners establish a life expectancy for them, Then they schedule a mid-life overhaul before they ultimately are replaced.

During the escalator replacement at Foggy Bottom, workers will take one escalator out of service at a time. Another one of the three will go up, and the other one down.

From the Post's archives:

Metro to speed escalator overhaul

The ups and downs of Metro

Metro brings in escalator consultant

Down on Metro's escalator problems

The climb to fix Metro's escalators

Metro riders fume over escalator problems

Escalators used by Metro have history of trouble

By Robert Thomson  | January 19, 2011; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Blue Line, Metro, Orange Line  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail  
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1) Are there any graphic renderings so we can get an idea of what this will look like?
2) Do we have an estimated time of completion for all of this?

Posted by: sigmagrrl | January 19, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: No graphics. It's a year-long project.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 19, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I've seen the renderings for this project. Imagine a staircase on the side closest to the hospital and then three escalators squished side by side next to the staircase. Currently there is a decent amount of space in between the escalators. This will be shrunk dramatically in order to fit in a staircase. The canopy will be almost identical to those found at other stations.

Posted by: Razor04 | January 19, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I just hope the project WORKS.

When I first moved to Arlington, WMATA had just begun what turned out to be a 12-18 month full rehab project on the Clarendon escalators. They spent April 2008 - fall 2009 working extensively on every single one in turn.

So when they started being out of service again in summer and fall 2010, it was not exactly heartening.

Posted by: EtoilePB | January 19, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

David Lacosse, director of Metro's escalator and elevator office for about seven years, told me recently that there's enough room in that bank of three escalators to squeeze in a real staircase during the reconstruction.

Why is "add a stairwell' not SOP for ALL elevator rebuildings/additions?? To not do so is shortsighted at best. [Al-la "Never more than two tracks" but I digress.]

Will Rosslyn get stairs as part of its work? It's far easier to walk down stairs than a stalled escalator.

Silver Spring never got stairs, and badly needs such.

Hmmm, maybe adding stairs should get funding from the anti-obesity campaigns.

Posted by: j_oper | January 19, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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