Downtown closure over Metro vent shaft concerns will last 4 months

It will take about four months to fix a major artery in downtown D.C. that engineers said may not support the weight of vehicles and cause them to fall straight into a Metro vent shaft.

Metro awarded a contract last week to replace the steel supports and grates that carry the middle lanes of 17th Street NW, between Connecticut Avenue-K Street NW and I Street NW on the west side of Farragut Square.

Making those supports and grates is expected to take some time, then the pieces must be installed.

“The steel cross beams that support the weight of vehicle traffic on the grates are critical to the structure and must be custom-built to specification. Also, during the project, all grating embedded in the travel lanes will be replaced,” Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta said in an email.

Concrete lining of the vent shaft will also be repaired, Jannetta said.

Metro expects work on the deteriorated vent shaft to take “approximately four months.”

For the entire period, one lane in each direction on 17th Street NW will remain closed, and there will be no parking on that block.

Metro and the District Department of Transportation first closed the lanes on Dec. 20, after an inspection found the Red Line vent shaft unfit to support tons of traffic regularly traveling over it.

Rush-hour traffic issues caused by the closure are expected to become more significant next week, as more people return from the holidays.

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