The escalator at the western entrance of the Van Ness Metro station needs serious work. Three years’ worth, to be exact.
When WMATA closed Van Ness’ eastern entrance for five months in 2013, it seemed like an eternity. But that’s nothing compared to the three years the agency is estimating this project is going to take.
Like with the eastern entrance, I’m concerned about safety for people on foot, as more of them will have to cross Connecticut Avenue to enter the Metro on the east side.
The closure is scheduled to start on May 4th. But why’s it set to last so long? Because WMATA isn’t just replacing the one escalator at the western entrance; it’s also replacing the three long escalators that descend into the station to the mezzanine.
Workers will tackle each escalator replacement one at a time, and the work will be done only when the station is closed. That will stretch the work to 40 weeks per escalator, or approximately three years. It’s not clear why WMATA needs to keep the west side closed while working on the internal escalators.
To the north of the station, the sidewalk on the east side of Connecticut is closed for Park Van Ness construction and will remain so until at least the end of the year. That means Metro-bound pedestrians crossing Connecticut at Albemarle to avoid the work zone will have to cross the avenue again at Windom Place, which only has a crosswalk on the north side.
Every weekday, Metrobus carries scores of commuters to the Van Ness Metro stop. They, too, will be crossing busy Connecticut Avenue, this time at Veazey Street.
The Van Ness Metro station, with Windom Place to the north and Veazey Terrace to the south. Base image from Google Maps.
It is frustrating to receive notice of this project less than two weeks before it is to begin, especially since the planning process likely took months. WMATA should have used the time to reach out to DDOT and prepare a pedestrian safety plan, but nothing of the sort is mentioned in Metro’s news release.
In October 2013, shortly after Metro announced the five-month closure of the eastern entrance, I spoke to Ann Chisholm in the Office of Government Relations at WMATA. She mentioned the possibility of lengthening the crossing time on Connecticut at Veazey. However, she was concerned about DDOT wanting a traffic study, which would hold up the project.
WMATA dropped the ball in 2013. I intend to learn more about how it’s going to avoid doing the same next week.
This post originally appeared on Forest Hills Connection.