Metro, Fairfax County reach agreement to allow Huntington escalator to operate

Huntington escalator

The outdoor escalator at the Huntington Metro station carries people on Monday evening.

A newly renovated escalator at the Huntington Metro station is finally in operation after a dispute with Fairfax County about whether the escalator was up to code.

Representatives from the county and Metro said the two agencies came to an agreement last week that allowed the escalator to be turned on, and it’s been running since Jan. 19.

The nearly $1 million restoration of theoutdoor escalator, which leads from the North Kings Highway street-level entrance to the station, had been complete since early December. However, the county said that it did notmeetstate code, which requires that the escalator be covered by a canopy.

The new agreement gives Metro a year to build the canopy, and stipulates that the agency follow requirements about its usage in certain weather conditions.

“The escalator was inspected and has been cleared for operation with the provision that this escalator will not operate during snow and ice events to ensure safety of the users,” said Tony Castrilli, Fairfax County’s Director of Public Affairs. “Also, the canopy for the escalator, as required in the original design, will be installed within next 12months.”

WMATA spokesman Richard Jordan said today that construction on the new canopy will begin this spring. The canopy will cost $2.5 million.

The escalator had long been an inconvenience for Huntington commuters. It is the only escalatorat the street level on the North Kings Highway side of the station, which is a drop-off point for transit buses and shuttles from local residential complexes. With it out of commission, anyone wishing to access or exit the station on that side needed to either take the steps, use the elevator, or enter through the parking garage.

Work on the escalator began back in June, but it was out of service well before that, according to riders who use the station.

Metrohad previously said that work on the canopy had to wait until the construction of the escalator — which required trusses, cranes and pulleys to move components into place— was complete.

During the construction work, Metro’s estimated completion date 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.

Since mid-December, all construction equipment had been removed and the escalator had been ready to go, according to Metro. But because it couldn’t pass inspection,it stood idle, with gates blocking the top and bottom access points.

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