Rhode Island Ave. Metro Station to Close for 45 Days After Crews Failed to Inspect Hard-to-Reach Parts of Metro Station: Report

Crews' failure to inspect parts of Metro's Rhode Island Avenue station and the apparent copying and pasting of language from old inspection reports led to a steel beam and pieces of concrete to fall from the ceiling in 2016, according to a Metro inspector general report.

Metro announced in February the station will be shut down for 45 days of repairs this summer as a result.

The Metro Board accepted the new inspector general report that says over a period of three years crews skipped inspections of hard-to-reach areas. In some cases, they apparently used inspection results for prior years at the Rhode Island Avenue station.

“I think it's terrible,” rider Latrell McNeil said. “It's a big letdown, and I think that they need to do better.”

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans said that was the lax attitude that existed before he and General Manager Paul Wiedefeld took over.

“It was a culture of, I guess, people just thought they could get away with it and not do what they were supposed to do,” he said. “And there was nobody looking over their work.”

The falling debris caused the closure of the station for temporary repairs in 2016. The 45-day closure of the Rhode Island Avenue station will allow crews to complete structural repairs.

A year ago, Metro fired a third of its track inspectors for falsifying safety records. The agency has developed new procedures and a structural inspection manual.

“As you know, when I got here we started a program where we actually created a whole department for quality assurance,” Wiedefeld said. “We know we've had issues there and we're moving to correct them.”

The Rhode Island Avenue station will close July 21, after the city hosts Major League Baseball All-Star Week, and will remain closed through Labor Day.

Metro riders said the closure will cause major inconveniences.

“I don't have a car,” Mia Thomas said. “So that can be you have to spend more now. You have to take other forms of transportation, whether that be Lyft or Uber.”

“I take this train every day to work,” Tracy Ulmer said. “For them to be shutting it down for so long when we know we have people who are supposed to be working on these things and for them to be working on it for so long ... it's stressful.”

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