Metro spokesperson Morgan Dye said the project is now set to begin in mid-August as part of Metro’s plan to modernize 128 of its escalators by 2020. Dye didn’t respond to follow-up questions asking for more detail about the project.
The replacement has been on the mind of county officials and Bethesda Metro station users since it was announced. The three bus bay-to-mezzanine escalators are each 212 feet long, the second longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere, behind the escalators at the Wheaton Metro station.
The replacement will be done one escalator at a time. 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, according to Metro officials.
In June 2012, Montgomery County officials asked Metro to move up the replacement because of breakdowns and problems with the existing escalators.
In October 2013, Metro installed brighter lights in the station and opened a staircase to take the place of a shorter platform-to-mezzanine escalator that was being replaced.
In January, Metro said a private property owner above the Bethesda station was responsible for a leaky roof that had water falling on its escalators. The property owner quickly set up scaffolding to fix the problem after leaking water caused large icicles that led to the closure of one of the escalators.