New escalator at Huntington Metro sits idle due to failed inspection

Escalator

The newly renovated escalator at the North Kings Highway entrance at the Huntington Metro Station.

Work on a key escalator at the Huntington Metro station is done after a long overhaul, but it isn’t operational yet because Fairfax County says it isn’t up to Virginia code standards. 

The escalator, located outside the station entrance on the North Kings Highway side of the station, needs a canopy built over it before it can pass inspection, according to a Fairfax County spokesman.

“Fairfax County has been working closely with Metro on the escalator in question,” Tony Castrilli, Fairfax County’s Director of Public Affairs, said. “It has not passed inspection because the state building code requires that a canopy be placed over escalators that are outside. This is for the safety of riders and the community. The state code requires a canopy to protect the escalator from rain, ice and snow, so that people don’t slip and fall while riding it. We share Metro’s goal to get the escalator in service as soon as possible.”

A WMATA spokesman says canopy construction won’t begin until sometime in 2017. In the meantime, Metro is working with the county to try and get the escalator into operation before that. 

“[E]ven without the protection of a canopy, the new escalator at Huntington is designed to operate while exposed to abrasive weather conditions such as rain, snow, and ice,” Metro spokesman Richard Jordan said. “It is also resistant to salt, de-icing chemicals, and other corrosive elements. We are working with Fairfax County to resolve any concerns and to open the escalator to our customers as soon as possible.”

Work on the escalator began on June 16, according to Jordan, although it was out of service prior to that, according to riders who use the station. The escalator project’s estimated completion date has changed multiple times on the WMATA website. Dates previously posted on the site include June 14, June 30, Sept. 16, Nov. 4, Nov. 11, Dec. 16, and Dec. 23.

The escalator is the only one at the street level on the North Kings Highway side, which is a drop-off point for transit buses and shuttles from local residential complexes. Anyone wishing to access or exit the station on that side needs to either take the steps, use the elevator, or enter through the parking garage.

The escalator restoration cost $963,736, according to Jordan. 

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  1. Stephen