New escalators for Foggy Bottom
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:
| January 19, 2011; 10:10 AM ET
Categories: Blue Line, Metro, Orange Line | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrorail
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