Metro cuts ribbon to signal the end of yearlong Foggy Bottom escalator repairs

Metro officials commemorated three new escalators at the Foggy Bottom Metro station Wednesday morning, marking the end of a long-term effort to relieve chronic outages at the stop.

Metro began long-awaited renovations to the station in January as part of a $5 billion overhaul across the 35-year-old transit system.

Mascot George and Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles cut the ribbon to officially open the third escalator.

The agency is evaluating its 153 escalators at 25 stations.

One new escalator went live at the station in July, and the second in September. The $5.9 million upgrade will also give the Foggy Bottom Metro – one of the most heavily trafficked stations with an average of more than 20,000 passengers daily – a canopy and staircase by early 2012.

“As we have been working on these escalators, [riders] have had a lot of patience,” Sarles said.

He joked that the future staircase would be a perk for “students who like to get exercise and want to move right along and don’t want to take the escalator.”

The unveiling of the third escalator signaled the first time in more than a year that the station offered riders three functioning escalators.

Last fall, Metro commissioned an outside agency to review escalators across the rail line, prompting upgrades at stations including Foggy Bottom.

The renovations were originally slated to begin last November, but instead started in late January.

Fewer than one-third of the previous escalator shutdowns at the Foggy Bottom Metro resulted from planned maintenance, according to a report released in February. The average time to repair those systems also saw a one-hour lag from 2008 to 2009.

Some of the escalators across the system were installed as far back as 1974.

Metro officials have said the new technology, with a 20- to 30-year life expectancy, is far more reliable.

Sarles also visited Union Station, the Metro system’s busiest stop, which received a $2.2-million overhaul. Work began there in July 2010 and was completed last week, repairing seven escalators and adding safety features like handrails.

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