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U Street Metro’s 13th Street Entrance Closing for 6 Months on April 3rd for new Escalators

by Prince Of Petworth March 8, 2017 at 2:35 pm 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns


“With escalator performance at a six-year high, Metro today announced that customers who use U Street Metrorail Station will be the next to benefit from the installation of new escalators, as the transit authority continues to advance a $151 million project to replace more than 130 escalators by the end of the decade.

In order to expedite the project and reduce impact to customers, neighbors and businesses, Metro will temporarily close the 13th Street entrance for the duration of the project. This will allow Metro’s contractor, KONE, to replace the two adjacent escalators at the same time, reducing the project duration by about half.

The project is expected to begin on or about April 3 and continue for approximately six months.

With 618 escalators across 91 stations, Metro owns, operates and maintains the largest fleet of escalators in North America, including the longest in the Western Hemisphere. The transit system has seen escalator performance improve five years in a row as a result of major capital investments in maintenance and equipment.

“In 2010, Metro’s escalators were a symbol of infrastructure neglect and decay,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We have made significant progress. Today, escalator availability is the highest in years thanks to all the new escalators going in, and the many more that have been rebuilt.”

Since 2011, Metro has installed 65 new escalators, and another 23 units are expected to be installed this year. By 2020, more than 130 of Metro’s escalators will have been replaced by new units. In addition, 153 escalators have been rebuilt to “like new” condition in smaller projects that replace all of the escalators’ steps, handrails, motors, controllers, drive chains, and other critical parts.”

  • BN

    Ugh, I saw this yesterday. Does it really take 6 months to replace escalators?

    • The King Ad-Hoc

      Metro’s lone escalator repair & replace technician can only do so much by himself.

      Of course, the USA raised and refitted battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941 in less time. But that was war.

    • Michael Pierce

      6 months? Ha! If past experience with Metro elevator/escalator replacement projects holds true, we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t take months longer than that, and we’ll be lucky if they don’t start breaking down within a month or two of being replaced.

      • jonah

        GA Ave / Petworth on New Hampshire finished slightly faster than anticipated IIRC.

        • textdoc

          I think they gave an extra-long estimate (49 weeks) so that they could pat themselves on the back when it finished early.

    • bv1837

      Apparently escalator repair/replacement is actually a pretty specialized skill (like elevator repair), and there aren’t a lot of people who can do it. It also requires dangerous chemicals that people can only be underground (or mostly underground) with for a certain amount of time.

      • ustreeter

        really — dangerous chemicals?

    • D Nuffin

      They’ve been “replacing” the escalators at the Shaw station ( near the library) since at least May of last year. Pathetic.

  • Dan

    Does this mean elevator access will also be closed for 6 months?

    • Anon

      I believe I saw a sign to that affect yesterday.

  • condoer

    Is there a good reason it takes so long to replace two escalators when you have unlimited access to it? You can (almost) build an entire house in 6 months!

    • Tsar of Truxton

      I have seen giant condo buildings go up in that much time. It makes no sense at all.

  • SWChick

    Aww man. :-/ At least there will be warmer weather so we don’t have to walk to/from the other entrance/exit in the cold. I foresee tons of ppl missing the “last train of the night” this summer because they didn’t give themselves enough time to walk to the train.

  • M.

    Considering that the escalators at the 10th St. entrance are broken more often than not, I predict a fustercluck.

    • JS

      This was my thinking as well. The increased food traffic on those will only make the rather frequent breakdowns worse.

  • trebek

    I’m confused. Didn’t Metro start a plan to fix ALL the escalators a few years ago. And now those new ones are all starting to break down again?

    U Street is clearly a metro stop that has had an signfiicant increase of traffic the last 5-10 years. They should think about adding a third escalator (or better yet – a staircase) to this.

    • FridayGirl

      + a million to the staircase. then they wouldn’t need to close the entire entrance/exit ever again!

    • JohnH

      Just as an FYI – U Street is the ranked 36th in the Metro system in ridership. Has it grown? Sure. But it’s still not that high.

    • Kevin

      They started work 4 years ago. This is a part of that work.

  • Bmouse

    I knew being on the Green/Yellow line with few interruptions is to good to be true.

  • ATrain

    Does anyone know why they didn’t choose to do this with the Shaw metro? They’ve closed one escalator at each entrance, leaving the other escalator to become an incredibly slippery and disgusting staircase full of cigarette butts, trash, etc.

    • T

      Live and learn?

  • Chris

    It’s closing in on 2 years that they’ve been working on the Van Ness escalators. They closed each side at one point to rehab (west side) or replace (east side) the street level escalators. Then they decided to replace the long ones to the station, so they tore out the rehabbed one (that took them 6 months or so to rehab) and closed the west side again.

    Apparently they’re just about finished, though I find the ride on the up escalator rather choppy. Guess they’ll be moving to U Street.

  • Leeran

    Clearly unacceptable, but I guess this isn’t notable when compared to the fact that the system’s actually in the middle of the death spiral…

  • Idontgetit

    Another reason to take the bus!

  • Johnny G

    I was in China a few years ago and the subway station near my hotel posted a notice a day into my stay, notifying riders that an escalator replacement would be taking place and apologizing for the inconvenience. (Mind you, there was a staircase, so it wasn’t a HUGE deal.) I was able to witness the complete removal of the escalator the first day. imagine my surprise when, in day 3…the new escalator was installed and running.

    I’ll admit China’s working conditions and safet standards are a bit different from those in the US…but does that explain a 3aday versus 6 MONTH difference in replacing escalators?!?!

  • Reality

    Woodley Park’s escalators have been under renovation for quite a while too … wondering when that’s supposed to be wrapped up.

  • jsauri

    Jesus christ! So a planned six months in metro time should be about a year and a half. I don’t know if KONE is who’s been maintaining their escalators for the last few years, but if so, they need to be god damned fired. Here’s a hint, if you can hear grinding metal when the escalator is running, it’s not good! Learn how to fix it correctly the first time!!


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