On Friday, May 29th, WMATA and DDOT officials met with ANC 3F commissioners, a representative of the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council and myself to provide more information about how the project will proceed.
The WMATA officials addressed a question that came up during the agency’s presentation at ANC 3F’s May 19th meeting: Whether closing the station on weekends would accelerate the work. They said weekend closures would not shorten the project to any significant extent. The time savings would amount to only one to three weeks.
Work was due to begin on May 4th, but has been delayed while DDOT and WMATA work out permitting for the construction. Now, officials say, the project will begin two weeks after WMATA gets the “imminent” go ahead from DDOT. This two-week period will allow for notifying the public of the closure and of transportation alternatives.
When work begins, the west entrance will be closed for five months while WMATA’s contractor sets up the cranes and hoisting mechanisms, removes the short escalator leading to the street level, removes of one of the 270-foot-long escalators to the mezzanine, and brings in the new escalator parts.
Then, if the stairway at the entrance is deemed structurally sound, the west entrance could reopen during the next five or so months while the contractor installs the new escalator. This pattern would repeat two more times, with the west entrance closing for five months while each remaining 270-foot escalator is dismantled and removed, and opening while a new escalator is installed.
The stairway is a big “if,” however. There is evidence the ground has shifted, but no one will know for sure until the escalator next to the stairway is removed and it can be inspected more closely. If the stairway is not structurally sound, it is not clear when it will be reconstructed and how long it will take.
The WMATA officials promised to provide the ANC and the Forest Hills Connection with a written timeline for the project. They also cautioned that in any construction process there are surprises that can lengthen the time. These were their best estimates.