“Each escalator will require approximately 40 weeks for site preparation, demolition, construction, installation and testing”

Van Ness- UDC 0421115-3698
Photo via WMATA


“On May 4, Metro will begin a major capital project which will close the west entrance to Van Ness and install four new entrance escalators, one at the west entrance and three longer units into the station.

The project will replace the current escalators, which are almost 35 years old and have exceeded their useful life, with brand new escalators that are more durable and reliable. Metro’s contractor, KONE, will install the new escalators one at a time: completing each of the three longer units from the landing to the mezzanine first then finishing up with replacing the final shorter entrance unit to landing.

Two landing to mezzanine escalators along with the elevator and newly replaced east side entrance escalators will remain available for customer use.

At 270 feet long, the Van Ness escalators transport riders 56 feet from the station mezzanine to the entrance landing. They will be replaced with more reliable units as part of Metro’s contract with KONE to replace 128 escalators across the Metrorail system.

How long will the project take?
Each escalator will require approximately 40 weeks for site preparation, demolition, construction, installation and testing. Replacing all four escalators in succession will take a total of about 3 years. Metro engineers will work closely with the project contractor, KONE, to ensure the work is done as safely and efficiently as possible.

Why will it take so long?

The Van Ness escalators are 270 feet long and transport riders 56 feet from the station mezzanine to the entrance landing so their replacement is more complicated than an average escalator replacement. For example, the mid-level landing requires the smaller street to landing unit at the west entrance to be removed prior to the longer middle units and will require considerably more crane activity to remove the structures and major trusses that hold each of the escalators.

To keep the station open, the escalators will be replaced one at a time rather than all at once. 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 3 years. However, portions of the new escalators are manufactured in advance and are in storage so the project can move forward efficiently.

How will this work affect my trip?
Customers need to enter and exit the station on the east side. Instead of having three escalators available from the landing, only two will be available during the project: one going up, and one going down. Metro will have escalator technicians on standby at Van Ness to respond immediately to any outage affecting the two available escalators. However, riders should be aware there that in the event of a service disruption, the station may need to be temporarily closed to prevent safety hazards related to overcrowding.

When will Van Ness Station need to be closed?
Metro may need to temporarily close the station to prevent overcrowding during service disruptions or other events – such as a disabled train, medical emergency, infrastructure problem or power failure. This may happen with little advance notice. When the station is temporarily closed, Red Line trains will bypass the station in both directions and passengers on the platform will have to exit the station.

How should I prepare?
Review your options now, and create an alternate plan for the possibility that Van Ness Station is not available. The nearest alternate station is Cleveland Park which is 7/10ths of mile to the south (approximately 15 minute walk) on Connecticut Ave. Metrobus is also a good alternative, so you are urged to familiarize yourself now with local bus routes.

How will I know if the station is closed?
Sign up for MetroAlerts to receive emails or text messages alerting you whenever there is a disruption on the Red Line or closure of the Van Ness. MetroAlerts will send another notification when the station has reopened. You can sign up at wmata.com/metroalerts.

Van Ness Station Quick Facts

Van Ness Station opened in December, 1981
Van Ness Station serves nearly 6,400 passengers on an average weekday
Van Ness’s longer entrance escalators are 270 feet long and rise 56 feet – 9 inches
Total cost for replacing the four entrance escalators is approximately $6.5 million

Stay informed by visiting this page at www.wmata.com/vanness or call Customer Service at (202) 637-7000″

27 Comment

  • Wow 40 days seems like a long time to repl– wait WHAT??

  • What the heck, metro. Arrrrgh. 3 years and may close the stop without much notice?! Not that they gave much notice of this happening in the first place. Sigh. I mostly use the buses anyway, but still a pain – especially since it doesn’t come very frequently.

  • They built the entire Empire State Building in less than half that time.

  • “Each escalator will require approximately 40 weeks for site preparation, demolition, construction, installation and testing”

    I am sorry, but 10 months PER escalator, 3 years total? They did say “escalator” right and not the second phase of the silver line or something right?

    The basic infrastructure, structural supports, power supply, control rooms are already there. They are simply taking one out, and putting a new one in its place.

    3 YEARS for a bank of escalators!?. Makes the 32 months it took me to design a new LEED Platnium, 12 story tall office building for downtown, demo the old one and build the new one in its place look positively “german” in its efficiency.

  • its going to take a LOT longer. As someone who has been in Petworth for four years, the repairs to the escaltors on north bound side look well over a year and easily have been shut down for 40% of the time since they were “repaired”–have fun van ness.

  • Mug of Glop

    GGW reported yesterday that the station isn’t closing yet because WMATA failed to inform such authorities as DDOT, ANC3F, and DCOoP about their plans until a couple weeks ago and decided not to talk to them about any possible impacts of the closure. I don’t go out there often, though, so maybe someone from Van Ness can tell us of the actual state of the station?

  • What’s sadly funny is that a couple years ago they spent months “rehabilitating” the street level escalator on that side, which of course broke down more often after the rebuild, and now they’re just ripping all that work out and redoing it. When they close the east side of van ness it was closed much longer than they had announced, if memory serves. Looks like I’ll be driving to work more often from now on.

    • As of this morning, the entrance was open, but Metro had signs all over the station saying it would be closed starting May 4. This is gonna be FUN!

      • This is going to suck. I hope DDOT increases the time for the crosswalk just north (can’t remember the cross street) of the station. It’s already short enough, but there’s going to be increased volume. Not to mention the cars coming out of UDC and Calvert-Woodley “encouraging” you to move faster.

  • Another irritating part about this whole thing is that construction has closed part of the sidewalk on the eastern side, so if you are walking south along Connecticut, on the eastern side of the street, you’ll have to cross Connecticut twice: once to avoid the closed sidewalk, and again to get to the Metro entrance. I’ve already noticed people who walk in the street instead of having to cross Connecticut once. I can only imagine this number will increase with the closure of the station.

  • Good thing we didn’t need escalators to win WW2! (When entire battleships were built in a day!)

    • I don’t think anyone ever built a battleship in a day 🙂 However I do recall reading that they raised and refit a battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor in just six months.

      • We will colonize Mars (albeit with irradiated bodies) before WMATA finishes any of their projects. It’s truly the most ineffective/inefficient agency – like, ever.

      • Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard also completed significant repairs on USS Yorktown in three days (although estimates put repair time at three months) following her involvement in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Yorktown went onto fight in the Battle of Midway.

      • It was a major ship-yard facility in San Francisco, so yes, many stages of construction going on at once, but the average was indeed a ship a day.
        According to http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wwiibayarea/shipbuilding.HTM

  • The buses already drive past me nearly every morning on CT Ave because they’re too full. If they’re expecting Van Ness residents to rely on bus service, I sincerely hope they’ll add a few additional buses in the morning.

  • Comparing Metro’s explanations in Bethesda vs. Van Ness is very interesting.
    About 1 year ago, Metro announced that they will need 2.5 years to replace the 3 escalators in Bethesda, “the second longest in the western world” according to them.
    They blamed the 2.5 year long schedule on the fact that there is only one exit in Bethesda, so the entire exit can not be closed. They then claimed metro workers could not work when customers use the 2 other escalators, thus allowing only 2.5 years of night work only (Indeed we rarely see people working on the escalator).

    So, based on what Metro described of the Bethesda situation, why would it takes as long to change in Van Ness 3 escalators, shorter than in Bethesda, with direct access to them from the street (Bethesda escalators are facing an underground bus terminal), and MORE IMPORTANTLY where they can physically work on them 24/7 (No customers using the closed west exit simultaneously)…

    • Edit: I am not familiar with the Van ness metro station, and just realized that the situation there is pretty similar to the one in bethesda… Sorry for my previous inaccurate post.

  • The reason it takes so long is metro only has two guys that repair escalators and those two guys are still working at Georgia Ave. They really need to hire a couple more guys.

  • “Metro may need to temporarily close the station to prevent overcrowding during service disruptions . . . ”

    So, basically all the time.

  • justinbc

    I kept trying to come up with over the top comparisons, but just gave up. It’s too easy. This is pathetic.

  • on a not-entirely-unrelated note, has anyone had the experience of riding a metro escalator during rush hour and the person/s at the escalator landing are so slow moving that they can’t get out of the way to allow room for the folks behind them to exit the escalator landing so everyone gets crammed up against one another in a ridiculous domino effect as if one was in the front row of a stones concert and not simply taking the track level escalator at metro center…just wondering if this has happened to anyone else…

  • I live in Van Ness and take the metro every day, and I had NO idea this was happening until I saw it yesterday here and on GGW. They put signs up weeks ago saying the west entrance would close for escalator repair, which wasn’t surprising since they did the same with the east side a couple of years ago, but I have not seen any notices about them replacing all three of the big escalators. The escalator repair on the east side (next to the Giant) definitely took longer than estimated/advertised so I’m sure this will be the same. I’m moving in a month and I’ll be glad to be missing most of this…

  • It took a year and a half to build the Empire State Building. It takes Metro three years to replace three escalators.

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