Traffic bottleneck near Farragut Square expected to last for at least several weeks

17th Street Closure
The closure from Metro and the District Department of Transportation blocks the center lane in each direction on 17th Street Northwest, between I and K streets. (WTOP/John Domen)

There’s no timeline yet for how long a newly created flow issue near D.C.’s Farragut Square will last while the center of 17th Street Northwest is blocked to traffic in a spot south of K Street.

The lane closures are to allow repairs to be made to steel grates covering a ventilation shaft for Metro’s Red Line.

“I’m not sure if it will go beyond weeks, but certainly into the new year, and that’s when folks will really start to feel some traffic impacts around this,” Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said.

Traffic on 17th Street Northwest will flow in two lanes in each direction around the closure.

“That is a slight reduction to what you would normally see, however,” Stessel said.

On that block, emergency no parking restrictions are in place to help traffic flow.

The issue of the structural reliability of the steel grates covering the vent shaft in the middle of 17th Street was already on Metro’s radar. Stessel said that there has been work done previously to try to shore up the structural supports for the grates through welding.

But last Friday night, the latest in a series of ongoing inspections revealed that more drastic measures need to be taken. “No, we couldn’t go on like this, that this was a safety concern,” Stessel said.

On Tuesday, Metro expects to receive proposals from contractors that will reveal how much repairs will cost in time and money.

As for the structural integrity for all the other locations Metro has grates covering ventilation shafts? Stessel said Metro “structural department” engineers regularly inspect anything that’s elevated, such as on bridges or over tunnels.

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