Metro shuts access to Dupont Circle twice since escalator work start

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

It took just eight days for Metro to need its emergency plans for the Dupont Circle station while it does a massive escalator overhaul.

Problems occurred twice on Wednesday that forced the agency to close all outside access to the busy Red Line station. Both incidents occurred during the daily rush.

The transit agency is relying on just one entrance at the station after closing the south entrance on Feb. 1 to replace all three escalators. The project is slated to last through October. In the meantime, all riders are funneled through the sole remaining exit.

Metro pledged to keep those escalators running at all times and created several layers of emergency plans in case breakdowns occur.

"Everything's going as planned," spokesman Dan Stessel told The Washington Examiner. "The procedures did work as they were intended to ensure a safe environment."

The first incident happened after a train broke down at Dupont Circle at 10:12 a.m., he said. All riders aboard were forced off, so the train could be taken in for repairs.

The station entrance was closed so no one else could enter the station, to limit crowding. A rider reported the platform was packed with people.

The entrance closure lasted eight minutes, opening back up at 10:20 a.m., Stessel said.

Then at 5:55 p.m., all the escalators at the north entrance went down. Stessel said it was likely because of a false fire alarm that automatically shut them off. It wasn't until 6:21 p.m. that all three escalators were running again.

During that time, Metro closed the entrance of the station, cutting off riders from entering. Again, riders could exit the station, walking up the stalled escalators.

The evening closure occurred on a chilly, drippy night when riders wanting to board at Dupont Circle may not have wanted to walk half a mile to Farragut North to catch their train.

The system also had two outbound trains bypass the station, running straight through without stopping, as a precaution to avoid overcrowding.

Stessel said crowding never became a problem.

Following those two incidents, Stessel said the agency has no plans to make changes to its contingency plans.

The agency did not need to use an emergency evacuation train staged nearby in the tunnel or a special spiral staircase installed in a ventilation shaft.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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