Metro and DDOT sent representatives to last night’s ANC 3F meeting to talk about the now-delayed Van Ness escalator replacement project. Some notes:
No new date has been set for the work. “We’re ready to start right now,” said Cedric Watson, WMATA’s project manager for elevator and escalator capital projects. But Metro’s waiting for the green light from DDOT so it can use the street and sidewalk by the Van Ness station for staging. Matthew Marcou, DDOT’s public space manager, said his office is still talking to WMATA about the project’s requirements and accommodations for pedestrians on the surface. He expects a public space permit will be granted “in short order,” but no work will begin before the ANC and the community are informed of the new date (more below).
It’s possible the west stair/escalator entrance won’t close for the entire length of the three-year project. However, it all depends on the structural integrity of the stairs.
“That is the critical piece of maintaining that entrance open while we work to replace the escalators,” said Watson. If the engineers say the stairs are sound, the west entrance will open intermittently, and advance notice will be provided ahead of time via the project’s website (wmata.com/vanness), social media and email advisories.
The east entrance escalators and west elevator will remain open throughout the project.
WMATA, with input from the community, will explore closing the station on weekends to expedite the work. The reason Metro expects the project to take three years is that the work, as planned now, will take place only when the station is closed to riders. That includes set up after the station closes at midnight, and cleanup before the station reopens shortly after 5 a.m. each morning. That leaves only 3.5 to 4 hours to get the work done.
Metro will work harder to keep the community informed, going forward. Ann Chisholm, WMATA’s government relations officer, said the agency has learned its lesson after the community outcry over the timing of the project and the short notice provided prior to the planned May 4th closure.
The increased outreach will include a pre-closure site visit for the ANC, businesses, residences, universities and customers. Metro is also planning information kiosks at the UDC farmers market and Giant, and notices on Metrobuses serving Connecticut. Once the work begins, Metro plans quarterly ANC briefings and promises to keep the community up to speed by attending meetings at UDC, the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council and the Van Ness Vision Committee, and sending periodic updates and photos of the work to Forest Hills Connection.
DDOT is still studying giving pedestrians more time to cross Connecticut at Veazey Terrace and Windom Place.
For more details on the technical and equipment requirements of the project, here’s the WMATA presentation and Q&A with ANC commissioners and audience members.
Or watch at Livestream.com.
ANC 3F is holding another meeting next Tuesday, May 26th, to consider weekend closures of the Van Ness station and any other developments between now and then.