Metro on Wednesday revealed new lighting and a new staircase the transit agency says is the first part of its renovation plans for the Bethesda Station.
In April, Metro announced it had chosen Bethesda for a pilot redesign that would bring high-output light fixtures, a stainless steel and light gray interior to replace “Metro brown” tiles, a thinner kiosk with digital panels for service information and new fare gates with next-generation technology for faster entry and exit.
For now, riders at the underground station will have brighter light strips over the mezzanine. The older “can” lights are out, similar to fixes made at Gallery Place and Judiciary Square.
The stairs from the mezzanine to the platform level opened on Wednesday. Combined, the improvements cost $700,000, which Metro said was under budget.
The stairs were an important fix at the station. Next month, work will begin on the replacement of one of the two mezzanine-to-platform escalators, the same one that was rehabilitated a few years ago.
The replacement escalator will be stainless steel, to match up with Metro’s “Station of the Future” pilot design. Last month, WMATA government relations officer Charlie 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.
The Bethesda Station provides an opportunity for a new design because of the much more substantial work planned for next year. Metro will begin full replacement of the 20-year-old entrance escalators that run from the bus bay to the mezzanine. At 106 feet, the escalators are the second longest on the Metrorail system and among the longest in the Western Hemisphere.
Metro officials have warned that because of the escalator length and without much room to operate, the replacement process will be complicated.