Metro GM says relief on the way for 2 hot stations

WASHINGTON — Cooler air at the Dupont Circle and Farragut North Metro stations will return by the end of the month, now that Metro has obtained permits and signed an agreement to rent a temporary portable cooling tower.

The 41-year-old pipes connecting the existing cooling tower, on top of a building along Connecticut Avenue Northwest, to the chillers below the road have been leaking for years, which has meant the stations are steamy during summer months.

Now, work is starting Thursday to put the temporary cooling tower in place on Connecticut Avenue in a pull-off area near Desales Street that is typically used as a loading zone.

“Metro’s contractor is working to complete the work as soon as possible, and expects to be able to restore chiller service by the end of this month,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said.

Metro will dig trenches across southbound Connecticut Avenue to the median for pipes to connect that 750-ton cooling system to the existing chiller plant that serves the two stations.

The work, allowed under six city permits, is not scheduled to affect rush hour traffic, and the trenches will be relatively direct connections straight across the southbound side of the road, since the tower will be placed close to the chiller plant.

The temporary fix will remain in place into September; after that, the temporary tower is scheduled to be removed.

Metro is working on a longer-term fix that could be rolled out next summer, but Wiedefeld said the work is still in a design phase, so he could not give any type of timeline. “I want to get through the design first before we commit to any schedule on that,” Wiedefeld said.

Air fresheners

Metro has pulled air fresheners off its cars, after the pilot program was panned by a number of riders.

Wiedefeld said he is looking at the program, which was meant to improve customers’ experiences on the rail system. A vocal group of riders who learned of the program expressed concerns about priorities and their potential reaction to the scent.

“We have a lot of people coming on with all kinds of perfumes and everything else that get on the trains every day, so I think maybe there’s a balance there somewhere,” Wiedefeld said.

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