The replacement of one of the two smaller escalators in the Bethesda Metro station will likely start in November, followed by the much more substantial replacement of the large escalators still slated to begin in April or May of 2014.
Charlie Scott, government relations officer at WMATA, told the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce’s Metro Station Improvement Task Force on Friday that work on one of the two platform-to-gate level escalators should begin in November.
Metro rehabilitated the same escalator a few years ago. In its place will go a new, stainless steel escalator that is supposed to match up with Metro’s “Station of the Future” pilot design.
Scott said designs for the pilot will go before the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in November. In May, just weeks after Metro announced Bethesda would get the pilot project, the Washington Post reported WMATA architect Ivo Karadimov was already pulling back on some aspects of the design because of complaints from historic preservationists.
To compensate for the out-of-service platform escalator, Metro will reopen the platform stairs that have been under repair. The remaining short escalator will bring passengers up to the gate level.
The most disruptive project remains the replacement of the three large escalators that bring passengers from the bus bay level to the gate level. The escalators are 212 feet long and the second longest in the Western Hemisphere, behind the escalators at the Wheaton Metro station.
Metro officials say the replacement, which will be done one escalator at a time, will no doubt be a challenging process. There is little clearance above the escalators because of the bus bay ceiling and buildings above, which means Metro is limited in the type of construction equipment it can use.
Metro Transit Police Capt. Brian Heanue told the group, made up of a number of Bethesda business leaders and county officials, emergency management staff will be on location during the replacements and the department has experience with similar replacement projects at Dupont Circle and the Pentagon.
The Dupont Circle replacement took about eight months.