You may or may not know this, but Metro has the most escalators of any transit system in North America.
Metro has been working to protect its outside escalators by putting canopies over them, but News4 has learned that one of the largest escalator canopy projects, at the Dupont Circle station, is being delayed again.
“It doesn’t take much understanding to know that this is obviously failing. Something is wrong here," said Metro rider Christian Hedge.
A massive canopy at the Dupont Circle station's north entrance has now been under construction for more than two years. While the steel structure has been up for a while, there’s no glass to go into it.
The project was originally only expected to take about a year. But News4 has learned it won’t be until the spring that this project is fully finished, three years after construction started — and far later than the fall completion timeline that’s currently posted outside the station.
Hedge, the rider, is familiar with all of this.
"I actually interned here two years ago – I just moved back in August – and it’s the same way it’s been since two years ago," Hedge said. "I don’t know what’s up. It literally looks like it hasn’t changed at all – they still have the stuff on the side – the wood and everything. I don’t know what’s up with that."
Metro tells us the delay is occurring because the original glass manufacturer for the project went out of business. New plans had to be drawn up and approved, and then the 200 individual glass panels that will go in the structure needed to be reordered.
“Our contractor had to find a new glass manufacturer, draw up new plans and get them approved, and, finally, procure materials and produce the 200 unique panels of glass,” Metro spokesperson Ian Jannetta explained. “That process is nearly complete, and we expect to start getting glass delivered late this fall. That being said, installation of the glass requires specific weather conditions, and with winter weather and cold temperatures presenting a challenge, the anticipated project completion is now spring of next year.”
The Dupont Circle station's north entrance has the sixth-longest escalators in the entire system, going up 190 feet. The huge canopy greets riders as they go up, but without glass in the canopy, riders are exposed to the elements when it's raining or snowing.
Rider Annie Dempsey gives Metro a pass due to the pandemic. But said she still wants to see the structure built soon.
"This is something really good – especially after working in this area for so many years and having to put my umbrella up before I got up the escalator," Dempsey said.
Metro says the delay has not affected the project's $5.5 million price tag.
The canopy will protect the escalators from rain and snow, which have affected them since the station opened in 1977, Metro said when the canopy project was announced.
“Escalator canopies were not part of the original design for Metro, but escalator reliability challenges following decades of weather exposure led Metro to begin installing canopies in 2003,” the agency said.