D.C. resident Ronald Johnson was happy with the reopening of the Rhode Island Avenue Metrorail station on Sept. 4 following its closure on Sept. 1 for safety concerns. However, he and many of the riders using the station remain reluctant about the overall safety of the system.
“It is important to ensure the safety of the riders, but also to address general maintenance before things literally begin to fall apart,” Johnson told the AFRO. “Concrete and metal rods falling from the system, coupled with the massive construction projects surrounding station, made me feel like the entire structure could potentially collapse.
Free shuttle services operated between Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations throughout the time the station was closed, when transit authority engineers concluded that the ceiling contained several “areas of loose concrete” that probably deteriorated from exposure to the environment. The report concluded, however, that the falling debris did not reveal any “structural concerns” that could endanger riders.
The report also documented the metal bracket and concrete that fell had previously filled an approximate 6-inch gap between the beam that supports the platform and the escalator. “Subsequently, station personnel on Thursday (Sept. 1) evening reported small pieces of concrete falling from the station ceiling about 40 feet away from the location of the Wednesday (Aug. 31) repairs. After the second incident, a third-party expert was engaged to conduct a more robust inspection to ensure that the structure is sound and does not present a hazard to the riding public.”
As a precaution, inspectors installed debris-catching netting across the entire length of the station and scheduled a large-scale inspection of the station in coming weeks, according to the report. “I don’t trust the system right now, especially since the reports are that the area is safe, but there are nets and other safety measures all over the station,” rider Victoria French told the AFRO. “Fortunately there is a bike rental station here that will allow me to still get around.”
French said between the general overcrowding and the extended SafeTrack repair schedule, the system’s failures made it too unreliable for regular use. The Rhode Island Metrorail station was among the original four Red Line stops that opened in 1976.